time management tips

21 Time Management Tricks for Your Life

We all have that one friend who is inexplicably fantastic at managing their time. In my opinion, knowing how to manage your time well and without stress should be counted as a superpower.

Fortunately, most of us have to work a little harder at it than these naturally talented friends.

If you struggle to keep up with the clock, check out these twenty-one time management tricks that might work for you.

1.  Start every week with a plan

Good time management starts with knowing what you have to do… and how much time you have to do it. While it’s tough to anticipate everything a week will throw at you, planning is a big help.

Start your weeks with a blueprint for your expected tasks, ensuring you build in time for any additional workload you might not see coming.

2. Keep a running tally

It can be easy for work to pile up when we’re not looking, and then we’re racing the clock to get a ton of tasks done. That’s why keeping track of which jobs are on your plate is so important.

Use a notebook, a digital platform, or even Post-It notes to keep all your tasks in a visible place. That way, you can ensure they don’t sneak up on you.

3. Make time for distractions

We’re humans. So, we’re going to get distracted! That’s just part of the deal. Rather than hoping you won’t lose focus now and then, it’s better to plan for the inevitability.

Mix small breaks into your day to indulge your brain’s need to be distracted. Schedule scrolling time, a walk outside, or ten minutes for a quick daydream.

4. Use the Eisenhower Principle

The Eisenhower Principle separates tasks into four quadrants based on their urgency and importance. The best place to be is to address important but not urgent tasks.

However, if you constantly address urgent, unimportant tasks, you can use this tool to adjust how you prioritize your work.

5. Do the worst task first

This is a technique also known as ‘eating that frog.’ Rather than dreading that one difficult task all day – and performing worse on everything else – it’s best to get through it first.

With the dreaded job off your plate, your mind is free to focus on the rest of your day guilt-free.

Do the worst task first

6. Maximize brain power

When is your mental capacity at its best? Where do you work best? When does focusing come easy to you?

Do an audit of your work day, highlighting the points where you drop into a flow state. These points indicate that your brain is working at its best! Try to center your workday around these times.

7. Write everything down in a central place

It can be easy to lose track of tasks, details, or events in the rush of a busy week. We’re only human, and keeping all that information confined to our grey matter guarantees a slip-up.

That’s why a diary or app to track everything you need to do is so great. Avoid constantly worrying about forgetting something and simply leaving it on the page.

8. Avoid multitasking

This seems a little counterintuitive, right? If we’re multitasking, surely we’re getting more done in a shorter time?

The truth is multitasking draws your focus in two different directions. This can increase the time a task takes and reduce the quality of your output. Take it one task at a time for the best results.

9. Use time buffers

Unfortunately, not everything goes to plan! Life happens, unexpected tasks crop up, and technology sometimes doesn’t play along. That’s why time buffers are essential.

Try overestimating the amount of time a given task will take you. These small buffers add up, giving you some breathing room in case something needs your attention.

10. Create a routine schedule

Establishing a routine can help you anticipate when to get to work. You can maximize productivity by building this routine around your best work periods!

It also minimizes guilt since relaxation time is only for relaxation (instead of time you might be avoiding a task).

11. Be realistic with your time estimates

It can be very tempting to estimate shorter times for a task as a way to drive faster work. However, watching deadlines fly past even as you work your hardest is very discouraging.

Instead, ensure you’re realistic with your timelines to avoid needing to stuff too much into your week.

woman typing on a laptop

12. Be kind to your future self

I am a big fan of the phrase ‘sounds like a problem for Future Me.’ Unfortunately, ‘Future Me’ is still me.

Leaving tasks for the next day is incredibly tempting because it releases immediate pressure on you. But it transfers that pressure to tomorrow’s you, making their work even harder.

Within reason, do what you can every day to make sure tomorrow’s you is grateful.

13. Know how to say ‘no.’

The dreaded ‘no’ is one of the toughest words in the working world. There’s an unfortunate conception that is saying ‘no’ makes you unhelpful or selfish.

Saying ‘no’ to tasks you don’t have the realistic time to complete is better for all involved.

The person giving you the task can be sure they’ll receive their work on time and in its best form, while you can be sure you can dedicate your attention to making your existing work top-notch.

14. Audit your time

It’s hard to manage your time when you don’t know where it goes! A time audit is a powerful productivity tool that helps you understand what you spend the most and least time on.

With this data, you can adjust your workload, working hours, or tasks you take on board as needed.

15. Manage your energy

Mental energy comes from resting, hydrating, eating well, and exercising.

It’s tempting to view these self-care tasks as optional time-wasters, but they contribute to you working faster (and better). Carve time into your routine for these every day to increase energy.

16. Cut out ‘half-work.’

‘Half-work’ is when we start on one task but immediately become distracted by another, thus dropping the first in favor of the second.

Working like this breaks up our focus and diminishes our prioritization. If everything feels urgent and important, it isn’t! Delineate which tasks need to get done first, and work until they’re finished.

17. Use a priority system

Plenty of priority systems are designed to help you understand which tasks should come first and which you can leave until the end of your day.

Whichever system you choose, it’s helpful to check in on your priorities at the start of each work day.

18. Allow for ‘ramping up.’

While I wish we could kick into working, cold-starting your brain is like a lawnmower: it simply doesn’t work.

Give your mind time to warm up to the task at hand. Better yet, factor that ‘ramp up’ time into your time estimates. Assume each new task will require a little bit of ramp-up time. It’s a lifesaver!

19. Batch similar tasks

By batching similar tasks together, you can minimize how much time it takes for your brain to ramp up to each one. For example, you might like to do all your administrative tasks in the afternoon.

20. Release ‘perfect.’

Chasing perfection takes forever because ‘perfect’ doesn’t exist. This is a tough ask for many of us – myself included – but choosing ‘good enough’ rather than ‘perfect’ is a massive time saver.

21. Work smarter, not harder

Finally, use all the data at your fingertips to find ways to work smarter! If you spend a lot of time in your day recreating the same type of document, create a template.

If you’re attending unnecessary meetings, start declining them to use the time more productively. Seek out these efficiencies in your workday, and they’ll start to build up into hours more free time.

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