It seems like time management is something just about all of us struggle with. Whether you’re balancing a full-time job, a side hustle, a family, travel, etc., it just seems like there’s never enough time in the day.
I this post, I’m sharing 31 time management tips that will help you be more productive and really take control of your time.
Not all 31 of these tips will work for everyone, but if you can find just a few that really work in your life, I guarantee they can make a huge difference!
Time Management Tips to Help You Get More Done in Less Time
Of all of the time management tips I have tried, I’ve found goal setting to be by far the most effective. This might come as a surprise to you, but I’ll explain why that’s the case.
Setting goals gives me a clear and specific direction for exactly what I should be doing with my time. When I’ve set a goal the right way, it’s so easy to just quickly drop those tasks onto my calendar.
You can check out exactly how I set goals and plan my year to make time management super easy!
Eat the Frog
There’s a Mark Twain quote that says:
Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.
So how does this apply to time management? The premise is that if you get the biggest, most difficult ask out of the way first, then the day is smooth sailing from there
Depending on your schedule and responsibilities, you might not be able to do the biggest task first. But rest assured that getting that task out of the way early will take a lot of weight off your shoulders and make you feel a lot better about what you’ve accomplished that day!
Create a Morning Routine
Mornings have the potential to not only be super productive but to also shape your productivity for the entire day.
And yet, for so many of us, mornings are just chaos.
Creating a morning routine has honestly changed my life.
I’m less stressed. I’m less tired. I’m more prepared to tackle my to-do list for the day.
I have an entire blog post dedicated to helping you create a healthy and effective morning routine, so make sure to check it out!
Use a Planner
I can’t even imagine how chaotic my day would be if I didn’t use a daily planner. It’s basically what holds my life together.
Just having a place to plan your schedule and write down your to-do list will go a long way in helping you to manage time effectively.
If you aren’t sure where to start, check out my blog post where I share the best planners to use for productivity this year.
Time-Block Your Day
Time blocking is a great way to plan your day in a way that really allows you to take control of your time.
Time-blocking at its core is just blocking off certain times on your calendar to accomplish certain tasks. This is a LOT more effective than just writing a to-do list because you’re actually planning when you’re going to get everything done.
Here’s an example of what time-blocking might look like in a typical day for me:
- 6:45-8:15: Morning Routine / Get Ready for Work
- 8:30-5: Full-Time Job
- 5:30-7:00: Working out, taking the dog for a walk, eating dinner, and other miscellaneous tasks to wind down after work.
- 7:00-10:00: Work on Blog
- 10:00-11:00: Shower and Bedtime Routine
Combine like tasks and work on them at the same time.
Jumping from task to task takes time and mental energy, so cutting down on the number of transitions saves a lot of time.
I like to batch as many tasks as I can for my blog and business.
For instance, instead of scheduling social media content every single day, I sit down once per week and schedule everything.
Similarly, I use batching in my Etsy shop. Rather than designing researching a new product, designing it, photographing it, and creating a listing, I’ll batch those tasks.
I’ll research and brainstorm a bunch of product ideas at once.
Then I’ll design all of those products, and photography all of those products, and create all of the listings.
Go through your workflow and figure out where you can be batching tasks to save time.
Set a Timer
For the longest time, I didn’t pay attention to how much time I was spending on certain blogging tasks.
Then I started tracking my time with Toggl, and I was honestly surprised by how long certain tasks were taking me.
And I guarantee that most of the reason for that amount of time was procrastination and getting sucked in my distractions.
Now that I know roughly how much time it should take me to complete certain tasks, I still set timers for myself to make sure I’m making any task take longer than it needs to.
And another reason I love tracking my time in my business is that I see what my hourly income ROI is for certain tasks. This helps me narrow down my to-do list to only focus on those tasks that make me the most money.
Set a Time Limit for Each Task
Once you’ve used a timer to figure out how long certain tasks are taking you, it’s a heck of a lot easier to plan your day. That’s because you can make an educated guess as to how long each task is going to take.
I’ve timed myself writing enough blog posts that I can confidently guess how long it’s going to take me. So when I put it on my calendar, I can schedule it for a certain amount of time.
Use the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule, otherwise known as the Pareto Principle, says that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your actions. And vice versa – 80% of your actions account for just 20% of your results.
It turns out, you can apply it to just about any area of your life.
The benefit of the 80/20 rule is that if you can identify the 20% of your efforts that are giving you 80% of your results, you can do more of those things and maximize those results even more.
Check out this article to learn more about using the 80/20 rule in your life.
Limit Time Spent Checking Email
I probably don’t need to help you that you need to spend less time in your inbox…but I’m going to anyway.
Because even though most of us know we’re spending too much time checking email, we still do it!
For many of us, email could take up our entire day if we let it. So don’t let it. Set aside specific blocks of time on your calendar where you’ll check email – maybe a few times per day.
And then only check email during those times.
For me, just turning off email notifications on my phone made a huge difference in helping me cut down on the amount of time I was spending on email.
Say NO More Often
As a people-pleaser, this one is hard for me. I have a difficult time saying no, and so I’ve spent a lot of time rearranging my schedule to accommodate other people.
But the more time spent focusing on other people’s priorities is less time spent on your own.
Saying no to the things that don’t matter to you will ensure you can say yes to the things that do.
It is not your job to keep other people happy or make sure other people’s priorities are met. It’s okay to put yourself first.
Plan Your Days Ahead of Time
The best way to plan for a productive day is to starting planning before that day. I plan all of my days ahead of time, so I wake up every morning knowing exactly what is on my to-do list.
And I don’t just plan my to-do list. I prepare for the entire day. The night before I get the coffee maker ready, I pack my lunch, and I pick out an outfit.
And as for work, I make sure all loose ends are tied up before I leave in the evening so I know I’m not coming into work in the middle of a task I should have finished the day before.
Use the Pomodoro Technique
There are a lot of time management strategies that float around online, but the Pomodoro Technique is by far one of the most popular.
The premise of this technique is that you alternate between time blocks of very focused work, followed by short breaks.
Here’s how it works:
- Set a timer for 25 minutes.
- During that 25 minutes, your work gets 100% of your focus. Close the rest of your browser windows. Don’t check your phone.
- When the timer goes off, take a five-minute break.
- Repeat this four times, at which point you’ll take a longer break.
And that’s it! You can repeat the Pomodoro Technique as many times as you need throughout the day until all your tasks are done.
This also makes it super easy to track how long each task is taking you, as I talked about further up in this post.
I know it might not seem like there is much of a connection between meditation and time management, but I promise there is!
One thing that meditation helps you to become really good at is focus. You practice focusing on just one thing (usually your breathing) and then letting thoughts come and go without letting them distract you.
One of the biggest struggles I see most people having when it comes to time management is focus. We allow ourselves to be easily distracted, usually by technology.
Meditating regularly can really help you to improve your focus, and therefore get more done every day.
Know the Difference Between Important and Urgent
When you’re juggling a lot of moving parts of your life (job, side hustle, family, friends) everything seems important. And it’s possible that everything on your to-do list is important!
The real trick is figuring out which tasks on your to-do list are important and urgent. Then move those tasks to the top of your to-do list.
There are some tasks that are important, but not urgent. You should make time for those eventually, but they don’t have to be done today.
Then there are tasks that are urgent, but not really important. An example of this would be a phone call. If you’re going to answer the phone, it’s urgent that you do it right away. But since it’s not important, you could always skip it.
If you have tasks on your to-do list that are neither important nor urgent, cross them off!
Give Yourself Deadlines
Regardless of how much I might procrastinate, if I’m given a work deadline, I’m going to meet it.
Similarly, when I was in college, I might have waited until the last minute to write my papers, but I certainly turned them all in on time.
Having a deadline really pushes you to get things done in a timely manner.
Because of this, I find that creating self-imposed deadlines is a great way to help me manage my time and complete the tasks that are important to me, but that there’s no boss requiring me to do.
If you want to put even more pressure on your deadlines, announce them publicly.
When I was writing my first eBook, I sent an email to my subscribers letting them know what date my eBook would be launching.
I hadn’t even started writing it yet.
But you had better believe that once I announced that date to my readers, I made sure to publish the eBook on time!
I’ve learned to automate as many things as I can in my life in the interest of saving time.
One example of this is my social media marketing. I love sharing new content with my social media followers, but it could also take up literally all of my time.
Instead, I’ve found some tools that help me to automate my social media promotion.
Other examples of things you could automate:
- Automatic Bill Pay
- Grocery Pickup
- Unsubscribing from Emails
Schedule Buffer Time
If you schedule tasks or appointments for every moment of your day, you’re just not going to finish it all.
Make sure to schedule in buffer time between every task to make time for transitions, breaks, meals, etc.
Make sure you also schedule in downtime! I’m someone who tends to get a little over-eager when it comes to scheduling out my to-do list, and then I’ll get to the end of the day and realize I had zero time to relax.
Make Your To-Do List SMALLER
I can’t even tell you how many days I’ve had where I’ve got a lot to get done, so I cram as many tasks as possible onto my to-do list.
I can tell you this pretty much never works.
Adding more things to your to-do list won’t help you to get more done, and it will make it harder to prioritize throughout the day.
What you can do instead is cutting down your to-do list, and the prioritizing it.
For example, what is the most important task you need to get done today?
And what are 2-3 other tasks you really want to get done?
After that, you can list a few most tasks that you would really like to get done, but only if you have time.
Create Templates for Everyday Tasks
There are probably things you do daily, weekly, monthly, etc. that you end up starting from scratch every single time, even though you do the same task all the time!
Some examples here might be frequently sending the same type of email, creating the same time of spreadsheet, responding to the same questions, etc.
I use templates for lots of parts of my business. It makes it super easy to just copy and paste rather than starting from scratch every time.
Cut Down on the Number of Decisions You Have to Make
Did you know the average adult makes 35,000 decisions per day?
Am I the only one who thinks that sounds insane?? It’s no wonder we all have decision fatigue and procrastinate on making decisions.
There are definitely days where it feels like my brain can NOT make decisions, so I’ve found a few ways to cut down on the number of decisions I have to make in a day.
Here are a few ways you can cut down on the number of decisions you’re making:
- Simplify your wardrobe. Consider starting a capsule wardrobe or limiting your wardrobe to a certain color scheme to avoid spending so much time putting together outfits.
- Meal plan. By making all of your meal decisions on the weekend, you aren’t spending time every.single.day figuring out what the heck you’re going to make for dinner.
Use the Eisenhower Matrix to Prioritize Your Tasks
I know how hard it can be to figure out which tasks are really worth your time and which aren’t. I know when I first started my blog I spent way too much time on things that aren’t weren’t important at all, and failed to devote time to things that really were important.
That’s why I was so excited when I found what is called the Eisenhower Matrix.
The Eisenhower Matrix has four quadrants that break down your tasks into four categories:
- Important and urgent
- Important, but not urgent
- Urgent, but not important
- Neither important nor urgent
Here’s a look at what the Eisenhower Matrix looks like:
There was a time in my life when I thought I was really good at multitasking. Except it turns out, there’s no such thing as multitasking.
When I thought I was multitasking really well, I was actually just jumping back and forth between a bunch of tasks really fast. Meaning NONE of them were getting my full attention and none of them were done as well as they could have been.
Not to mention all the time I wasted transitioning between those tasks!
There have been SO many studies that have shown that multitasking is just NOT effective.
Get More Sleep
Some people might think getting less sleep will make them more productive because they’ll have more time to work.
This just couldn’t be more wrong!
Sure, you might spend more hours working if you cut the number of hours you’re sleeping. But I can pretty much guarantee that work time is not going to be nearly as productive.
When I’m well-rested, I notice an amazing difference in how much I can get done.
Keep Your Workspace Organized
Sure, clutter is annoying and not exactly pretty to look at. But did you know it’s also probably killing your productivity?
Physical, digital, and mental clutter are all taking a toll on how much you get done every day.
Whether it be the pile of papers sitting on your desk or the hundreds of unorganized photos on your desktop, it’s time to get rid of that clutter.
And by cutting down on clutter, you’ll really be cutting down on the number of distractions in your day.
These days, it seems that everyone has a pretty short attention span. Unfortunately, this means we’re all also conditioned to be easily distracted.
From now on, try setting up your workday to eliminate as many distractions as possible.
I know my phone is a BIG distraction for me. If I get a text or a call, I’m going to check it right away. And once I’ve picked up my phone, it’s pretty easy for me to fall down the rabbit hole of Instagram!
It’s important to know what your big triggers are and find ways to minimize them.
One of the great things about the Pomodoro Technique discussed earlier in this post is that you’ve got five minutes built in for distractions after each 25-minute time block!
Let Go of Perfection
I’m a bit of a perfectionist. And while this might seem like a good thing at times, anyone with their own business can tell you there’s no room for perfectionism.
Yes, it would be great it every piece of content I put out was perfect.
But there’s no such thing as perfect. No matter how many hours I spend on a blog post, it will never be perfect. And eventually, I just have to decide that “good enough” is good enough.
Learn to be okay with B+ work.
Know Your Why
When I’m feeling discouraged or unmotivated about a certain task, I remind myself of my WHY.
At some point, this project made it onto my to-do list for an important reason. And sometimes I just need to remind myself what that reason is.
For example, maybe you’re starting a side hustle so you can quit your full-time job and have more time to spend at home with your family.
There are going to be days where you don’t feel like doing that monotonous task, such as writing your next blog post.
But if you remember WHY it’s important, you’ll be a lot more motivated to get to work!
Measure Productivity Based on Results, Not Time Spent
Your productivity definitely isn’t determined by the amount of time you spend on a project.
There might be a day where you spent the entire day working, with some procrastination mixed in. And at the end of the day, you really haven’t accomplished that much.
Measuring your productivity based on your results, rather than the number of hours you worked, will give you a far better idea of how productive you actually were.
Don’t Wait for Motivation
I know so many people who wait until they feel “motivated” to work on a task. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. I spent a lot of time there, actually.
Unfortunately, you can’t rely on motivated. And if you’re serious about reaching your goals, you have to get to work whether you’re feeling motivated or not.
Here’s a little trick I’ve learned though – if I just get started, even when I’m not feeling like it, motivation usually follows pretty quickly.
And when I say everything, I mean everything!
I refer to my calendar constantly, so if a task is scheduled, I know it’s going to get done. And if it’s not scheduled, there’s a very good chance it’s going to slip my mind.
Looking at my planner right now, I have every task scheduled out for the week. Even the errands I need to run this weekend are scheduled.
Every workout, every meal, and every night out with friends is scheduled ahead of time. And throughout the day as I’m working, I never have to stop and think about what I should or could work on next. I just quickly move onto the next task and save myself a ton of time.
Okay, so 31 time management tips is a LOT to digest at once.
You don’t have to implement them all at once. In fact, I would really recommend you not implement them all at once. You don’t even need to use all of them to notice a huge difference in your productivity!
By just implementing a few of these tips you’ll honestly be able to make some huge steps in better managing your own time and not getting caught in the common productivity traps.
If you have a favorite time management tip, I would love for you to share it in the comments!