We all have the same 24 hours in a day to get things done. So how is it that some people seem to be so productive and get so much done, while other people are hitting brick walls all day long? I believe that having a super successful and accomplished day is all in our attitude and proper planning.
Time management relates to scheduling your time effectively, in a way that will allow you to accomplish everything that you want for that day. It extends into short-term and long-term goals and can create positive results that will continue throughout your life.
This post covers everything related to time management and how you can plan your time effectively to get the most done.
What is time management?
Before digging into time management strategies and tips, let’s first talk about what time management is.
Time management may sound like something that just happens as you are going through your day. Or maybe figuring out how to cut corners in order to make everything fit into your day, week, month or even year. That would be wrong!
Time management is actually determining what your end goal is, what tasks must be completed leading up to that end goal and how much time you need to complete each of these tasks. Once you know what is required and how much time each task will take, you can come up with a plan to successfully accomplish those goals within that time.
Scheduling Long–Term Goals
This could be a long-term goal, such as planning a wedding. Think about the end goal, which is the day of the wedding, then work backward.
If you know your wedding will take place in 1 year, you would then need to figure out all of the steps required prior to the date, such as picking out where the ceremony will be held, where your cake will come from, what dress you are going to purchase, etc….
From there, you need to determine when each of these steps need to be completed by.
One example is purchasing your wedding dress. It will need to be purchased at least 6 months prior to the wedding, in order to allow for time for the dress designer to make your specific dress and then for a seamstress to make any alterations.
Knowing this, you would want to start searching for your dress at least 7 months before the wedding, to make sure you find your perfect dress in time.
Scheduling Short-Term Goals
For smaller tasks, such as completing a school assignment on time. Again, start with the end goal in mind. If your assignment is due in a week, you will then need to figure out how much time each day you will need to work on that assignment to complete it to the best of your ability by the day it is due.
First look at what the assignment is worth. For every 5% that an assignment, exam, etc… is worth, you should generally be spending 2 hours working on it. So if your assignment is worth 10%, you will need to schedule 4 hours to work on the assignment that week.
This is a guideline, so obviously if you feel you need more than 4 hours to work on the assignment, then you should plan for this. Figure out where you can fit these 4 hours into the week, write that time into your planner (calendar) and then spend that time only on that one assignment.
Read here to learn how to track your monthly goals in a planner.
Scheduling Daily Tasks
You can even determine a schedule for cleaning your house for a party that you are holding. The end goal is your clean house. Now figure out how much time you have to spend on cleaning your house.
You should have a rough idea how long it takes to clean your home, so determine how much time you have that week to clean and schedule the important tasks first, so that those will definitely be completed.
Everything else can be scheduled into the remaining time. The tasks that you would like to get to, but aren’t as important should be scheduled last. This way, if you don’t get to them, it isn’t a big deal.
It should be clear from these examples that time management is necessary in order to have everything complete or ready to go by the end date (or end goal). It helps keep you on track so that you aren’t stressing at the last minute and you know exactly when each step needs to be completed by to accomplish your goal.
Read here for more tips on saving time at home.
7 Tips for How to Start Implementing Time Management Strategies
Tip 1: When Do You Have the Most Time?
Determine how much time you have to work on tasks outside of your work schedule (and taking care of your kids, if you have kids).
If you sit down and really think about that extra time, maybe you have an extra hour in the morning that you usually spend scrolling through Facebook, that you could replace with more important tasks. Or possibly you have a couple hours after the kids go to bed, that you usually spend watching TV.
Consider Facebook and TV your rewards for accomplishing everything that you wanted to get done that day.
Tip 2: When are you most effective?
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
If you really struggle to get motivated early in the morning, then you won’t be very successful trying to force yourself to work on your list early in the morning. Same goes for the people who prefer to go to bed early at night.
Figure out when you work most effectively and schedule everything in that time. Otherwise, you are more likely to procrastinate and say “you’ll just do it later”, which will lead to more unnecessary stress.
If you can think more clearly at night, then schedule the more brain consuming tasks at night and everything else throughout the day.
Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like you have to follow what everybody else does. While working out in the morning may have some benefits, it won’t benefit YOU very much if you aren’t motivated to actually put in the work.
Tip 3: Use Paper Calendars, Planners & To Do Lists
Physical calendars, paper planners, daily/weekly planning sheets, and to-do lists are essential. It’s easy to just push things off when you don’t have a plan or anything written down.
If you take some time every Sunday to write down everything that you want to accomplish in the coming week. You are more likely to actually stick to the plan and get everything done.
You could use your cell phone calendar to plan your week, but writing with a pen on paper makes it more likely that you will take action and get everything on your list done. On your phone, it tends to just get lost in the shuffle and doesn’t have the same staying power in your mind.
Your to-do list could include cleaning tasks, workout schedules, planning a vacation, and much much more.
Just being able to check something off of the list can be really motivating. This means you are more likely to move onto the next task!
Tip 4: Set Up Your Schedule
While it may seem that creating a schedule for yourself every Sunday is really time-consuming, it can end up saving you more time in the long run. Ever heard the phrase, “short term pain, for long-term gain?” That totally applies here!
It may take you an hour to plan your week the first time you do it, but it will get faster over time and will make your life so much easier. You will no longer have to think about what you need to do. Just look at your calendar or to-do list and get to work. The less time it takes planning your week each Sunday, means even more time to do what you want!
Tip 5: How Much Time Do You Need?
As you are completing tasks that you do often, make note of how long it took you to complete that task. You may find that you assumed it took you an hour when really it only took 20 minutes. This means you can schedule something else into the other 40 minutes to get ahead of schedule.
If you are always scheduling yourself an hour for a task that takes 20 minutes, you are more likely to work slowly and use that full hour, when you could have easily scheduled yourself 20 minutes and completed it in 20 minutes.
If you come up with a schedule that works for you and determine how much time each task typically takes you, you will be able to accurately schedule each week going forward.
Tip 6: Is There Anything You Can Remove From Your Schedule?
Consider if there is anything that you could cut out from your schedule that isn’t as important. Or maybe you spend a lot of time driving to many different places that you could be avoiding.
Maybe you like going to the gym for 2 hours every day. But if you cut that down to 1 hour per day or maybe 2 hours a few times per week, that would save a lot of time for other tasks.
Working out is important for health reasons, but 1 hour per day is more than enough. If you still want to work out for 2 hours, consider working out at home once in a while or running around the neighborhood.
This would save you driving time to get to and from the gym. Which could be used to accomplish more important tasks.
Tip 7: Are You Trying to Multitask?
Make sure that you are not having to multitask very often.
It is important to schedule your day in a way that multitasking is not necessary. You should be able to fully commit yourself to each individual task. Which will ensure that you are finishing everything entirely and not leaving room for error or incomplete tasks that will bother you later.
Multitasking is an important skill to learn in life and may need to be done at times to ensure that important tasks do get completed when times are really busy.
This is particularly true if you have children who will be interrupting you at times when you still need to get work done.
However, for most daily tasks, if you schedule yourself enough time, you should not need to multitask.
Why Is Time Management Important?
Time management is important for planning your time in a way that you will actually get everything done in time and not cause extra, unnecessary stress in your life.
If you have twenty large tasks to complete this week (outside of your work schedule) and you don’t sit down and make a plan for how to tackle those 20 tasks. You will likely miss important details or you may not complete the task at all.
I think we all strive to do everything perfectly. Perfection is desired by many, although nothing and nobody is perfect. So while it’s okay to strive for perfection, you should just be as prepared as possible and know that you did everything possible to plan appropriately.
There is nothing worse than working towards a goal and falling short because you didn’t plan your time appropriately.
Time Management Advantages and Disadvantages
- If you have everything planned out prior to starting a task, you are more likely to follow through. This is because it breaks the task down into smaller, more simple steps.
- Writing everything down allows you to release details from your brain and put it onto paper. This clears your mind and allows you to think of even more amazing details. Sometimes writing down your plans, dates, steps, etc…. can even highlight something that you forgot about and can add it into your plan.
- You will complete most, if not all of your tasks ahead of time. Which leaves you time at the end to just relax or add something special that you would not have otherwise.
- It can cut down your stress levels dramatically. Knowing exactly what needs to be done and by when takes the stress out of your mind and onto paper. Then you just have to check your notes often to make sure you are following your plan.
- You won’t get sucked into other activities (such as checking Facebook) that just use up valuable time.
- If you have everything scheduled, it is possible that you forgot to write down a step. This means you may have to backtrack to complete that step. Or worse, you may be too far in the process and not be able to complete that step.
- It doesn’t allow for as much spontaneity. Rigid schedules may not work as well if you enjoy having the freedom to just do whatever feels right in the moment. If you struggle with strict schedules, consider removing some tasks that aren’t quite as important but still focus on creating a schedule for important tasks.
Benefits of Time Management for Students
I already touched on how to determine how long you should be working on assignments as a student. This gives a baseline for how much time you should be dedicating to homework, assignments, studying, etc… You can also read my post about how to set a schedule for online learning. Similar scheduling techniques apply for in-person courses as well.
Since you will often be taking 4-6 courses at any given time, it means that you have to juggle your time between all of these courses.
Take out a calendar at the beginning of the term and write down when you plan to work on each course.
This will help tremendously! There will be weeks where one course will be more time-consuming than the other courses. That week should be scheduled out accordingly, based on what is due and what it is worth.
Otherwise, you could set a schedule that one course will be worked on Mondays, another on Tuesdays, another on Wednesdays, and so on. Then you don’t have to worry about what you are working on. You will know exactly which coursework to focus your time on.
If you don’t have anything to work on in that specific course, you can either take the day off or you can get ahead in another course.
Having a plan and a schedule early in your course term is a huge benefit. It will ensure that you are completing the work early, instead of cramming everything in the last minute.
You are more likely to submit your best work because you had time to sit down and focus on that one assignment or study for that one exam. You will be prepared to do your best!
Submitting your best work will result in amazing grades, which could lead to a better job. This then leads to many other benefits in your life, well beyond school!
Importance of Time Management in the Workplace
The workplace is very demanding on your time and a lot is expected, often in a short amount of time.
It is not uncommon that the majority of the day is filled with meetings. Which can quickly eat away at your time. I have another post on how to have the most effective meetings at work, which includes how to determine which meetings you actually need to attend.
Many meetings are a waste of time and don’t have any positive results for the company. So those can be avoided altogether.
Plan out your workday first thing in the morning (or end of the workday the prior day).
You will then know exactly how many meetings are scheduled and what you HAVE to accomplish that day (eg. you have an investor coming in later that day and still have to finish writing out your presentation).
This type of task requires a scheduled time where you are not to be disturbed. However, if you knew a week ago that the investor was coming, you should have scheduled time to work on it each day leading up to the presentation.
Making sure that you are not leaving anything until the last minute is what time management ultimately solves. On the day that something is due (or being presented in this example), you should only be doing a final review and making very minor changes.
If you have a schedule prepared for each workday, you will be able to say when you have time available for meetings and when you should not be disturbed.
There will always be situations where you have no choice. But if your co-workers and boss are aware of your commitments, they are likely to be understanding when you say that you really have to get your presentation done.
Positive Effects of Time Management
Planning your time appropriately will have a huge effect on your mental health. This includes how you feel about your life, yourself and your accomplishments.
It will reduce stress levels because you won’t be trying to cram everything into a short amount of time. You will be able to look at your schedule for the day, week, month, and maybe even as long as a year, to see exactly where you need to focus your time and what tasks can wait.
Proper time management also allows you to see the whole picture so that you can determine if there is anything that can be taken off of your plate.
In a work situation, there may be somebody else at work that could work on a task. This has the potential to save several hours of your day.
Or if your house is a mess because you have been too busy to take care of it, you can ask your spouse or kids to help out. You could even assign them specific tasks! If you don’t have any help, hire a cleaner for a one-time clean. Just to get everything back on track!
Life honestly doesn’t have to be as stressful as we make it. There are often simple, inexpensive solutions to help manage our time effectively and get everything done. You just have to be open to accepting the help.
In summary, time management strategies are extremely beneficial to implement into your life. There will always be time constraints and stress in your life, there isn’t much that can be done about that. However, learning to properly plan “your 24 hours”, so that you are able to get the most done in a day will significantly lower your stress levels.
This will help you live a happier life overall. It may even open up time to do more things that you enjoy. Such as planning that vacation that you have been dreaming about going on! 🙂
I hope this post has been helpful in learning how to properly plan out your time so that you can accomplish everything in advance and cut down the stress in your life.
Are you looking for your next planner? Erin Condren planners are a great set-up for creating schedules to manage your time better. This post provides reasons why these planners have a higher price tag.