Ahhhh time management.
It can be so mysterious and seemingly impossible.
Whether it’s a spouse and three kids, a full time job and a side hustle, or fifteen events on your calendar you’re trying to make time for this week – you probably have a full plate.
In Design Your Dream Life Academy, I have an entire module on time management because most people struggle with it.
In this post, I want to go over 47 time management tips that you can actually implement in your daily life.
Even if you can take 1-3 tips away from this life, those little changes can make a huge difference in your life. (A perfect example is when I started measuring time based on results instead of the activity. This was a game changer!)
Okay, let’s take a look at this list…
47 Time Management Tips
- Understand that time management starts before you’re in that moment. You manage your time by planning ahead of time not by rushing around.
- Take 5 minutes to plan your day the night before.
- Be clear about your values. When you understand, clearly, what you value most, you can easily cut things from your life.
- Schedule everything – including down time, rest time, relaxing time, etc. Know exactly what you’re going to do during your Saturday “family time” or Sunday “personal time”.
- Use gCalendar (in month and weekly view) to get a broad – big picture look at your upcoming week and month.
- Distinguish between important and urgent. Something that is important to you is a top priority. Something that is urgent gives the impression of needing to be done right now. (E.g.: the phone ringing is something urgent – not important).
- Get comfortable saying “no”. This can’t be said enough – you need to get good at saying no without explanation or justifications. People pleasing will ruin your time management.
- Here’s a post on learning how to say “no” without feeling guilty.
- Delegate whenever you can. Make sure you’re using most of your time to work on things that you’re the best at. Delegate the rest.
- Open your calendar first thing every morning to review your day before it starts so you have a plan for your time.
- Ask “can this wait?” This is a game changer. Ask it whenever you’re about to do something urgent. Whenever I see laundry that needs to be done, I ask “can this wait” and the answer is yes 99% of the time – this means I spend my time on things that matter and don’t do my laundry until it’s necessary.
- Make a commitment to honor every single appointment on your calendar that you make with yourself just like you would honor any appointment with the person you respect and care the most about.
- Have a plan for checking social media. For example, put a constraint in your life that you don’t check social media until 12pm every day.
- Time block your schedule by days of the week. For example, I prepare and write content on Sundays every week, and I record a YouTube video on Tuesdays.
- Spend money to create more time. If you can afford it, you can spend money to create time. You can pay someone to clean your house. You can pay someone to do your yard work. You can hire an assistant. And on and on. You can save time by spending money.
- Stop trying to force false timelines and extend the deadline if needed. I give myself insane timelines for blogging, and sometimes, I have to rethink them if it’s just not possible.
- Schedule blocks of buffer time in your schedule to give yourself a break. You need to take breaks to recoup and have enough energy to effectively manage your time.
- Keep a “top 3 priority list” every day. Have 3 things you want to every day, and keep them on a list, in order of priority. This way, you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something every day.
- Use a task manager. Use an app or online tool for managing your tasks, so you’re organized. I use Evernote (for keeping notes online) and the Reminders App (for keeping lists of things I need to buy).
- Plan in 2 week increments down to the hour. Use your calendar (I use gCalendar) and plan in two-week increments down the hour. There shouldn’t be any time where you don’t know what you’re doing. This means blocking off when you eat, when you cook, when you work out, when you read, when you take your kids to their activities, when you go out to eat, when you have date night, etc. Everything.
- If you’re looking for a calendar or planner, check out my review of 8 amazing planners and journals.
- Give yourself a buffer in between your activities. At least 10 minutes of space in between your activities or plans will help you make up for traffic or other things that come up.
- People generally underestimate how long it will take to do something. Factor this in to your plans.
- Do a time journal. Keep track of how you spend your time for one day, in a journal – down to the minute (Facebook time, eating time, driving, time, etc. – track everything). You’ll be amazed at how much time you waste.
- Stop measuring time – start measuring results. This sounds counter-intuitive, but it works. If you start measuring what you want to produce during a specific time instead of how much time you’ll spend doing it, you’ll produce more in less time. (Instead of “blogging” on a Sunday for 2 hours, I schedule “write 1 blog post from 12pm – 1pm).
- Forget balance for the sake of balance. Instead, focus on prioritizing the most important things you want in your life, instead of prioritizing everything.
- Make it impossible for people to talk to you. This sounds funny, but it works. You can make it super difficult for people to reach you, and in turn, you get your time back. People are a time suck. How many times have you had a conversation about the weather at work that lasted 30 minutes about nothing? Russell Brunson has a rule that he doesn’t answer his phone unless it’s his wife, and he never replies to a message of “hi.” You have to specifically ask directly what you want in your message to him.
- Plan your day based on energy. Daniel Pink’s book When talks about how you can structure your day to your advantage. For example, you may want to do your hardest, most important task first thing in the morning and save your more administrative tasks later in the day.
- Stop multitasking. There is no such thing as multitasking. Your brain cannot actually do two things at once. When you say you’re multitasking, you’re actually just jumping back and forth between tasks, which takes so much longer.
- Reject busy. “Busy” is a state of mind. When you indulge in the feeling of busy, you are mismanaging your mind. Instead, get clarity about what you’re thinking, get organized, and plan breathing room in your schedule.
- Get obsessed with your calendar. Look at your schedule at least for 15 minutes total every day. I keep it up in the background of my computer, and I’m constantly reviewing it and thinking about the future.
- Use a calendar app to sync calendars with your family members. You can use gCalednar to sync your families calendars so everyone can see them.
- Whenever you have a new project or event that you have a lot of action items to do, make a massive action list with all the items you need to do. Put your massive action list in order of priority. Then, put every item on your calendar. I did this for when I quit my job and moved. I had so many tasks to do, and I never felt busy because I had each item on my calendar.
- Ask yourself “how can I be better at time management?” Your brain is like a computer and it will find the answers to the questions you ask it (learn more about using the questions tool here). Make sure you ask positive questions because your brain will also find the answers to negative questions (e.g.: don’t ask “why am I so bad at time management?”). Ask your positive question every night before bed and go to sleep. Your brain will come up with the answer over time.
- If you want a free time management lesson, take my Personal Development Free Course.
- Maximize your commute or other downtime by listening to podcasts or books on tape. This is a huge game changer. If you listen to one podcast every morning when you will be a different person one year from now.
- Have a designated schedule for your house chores. Instead of cleaning, doing laundry, or mowing the lawn whenever you think it needs to be done, have a schedule that you stick to. The more of a routine you create – the better.
- Plan out a specific morning routine for before your workday starts. Whether you’re in a corporate job or a stay at home parent, the time before your workday starts can be used, strategically, for maximizing your time for the entire day.
- Read this for advice on creating a morning routine.
- Create an evening routine to maximize your time and your priorities. Like a morning routine, if you create a specific evening routine, you can get more done of what matters most to you by intentionally planning this time out before bed.
- Ask “can I eliminate this?” There may be things you’re doing that you don’t need to be doing, which in effect, are time wasters. Whenever something comes your way, ask this question before you do it.
- Stop saying “I’m bad at time management.” Time management is a skill set that you can improve on (your brain is not fixed!). Just because you’ve been bad at it in the past, doesn’t mean you have to be bad at it in the future. Proclaiming how bad you are at it keeps you repeating the past.
- Spend time now to save time later by automating things. Whenever you can automate something, it will take you more time up front to set up the automation, but it will save you time later. An example is setting up auto-bill pay. You’ll save time in the long run by spending time now.
- Let go of perfection. Whether you are a career woman or a stay at home parent, perfectionism can kill not only your productivity, but also your time. Let it go. Done is better than perfect.
- Put a constraint in your life where you are done with screens at a certain time of the day (example: no screens after 8pm). This will give you time for other things and keep you from being sucked into to the wild, wild west of the internet time suck.
- Get enough sleep. Cutting out sleep means you’ll be less productive and produce worse work. Don’t do this! Make sure you’re getting enough sleep (as cliché as this sounds, it works).
- Be okay with B- work. Designate a specific amount of time for a project or task and complete it during that time. Don’t do more than that (just like if you were in school). This means you’ll shift from the time and energy economy to the results economy. If this is your first time hearing this, stick around – I’ll be talking about it more. For now, just know you want to be in the productivity, value economy – not the time and energy economy.
- Create a plan for what you eat and how you exercise. What you eat fuels your body and will directly affect how you feel and therefore, how you use your time. Similarly, you need to get moving – exercise is clutch to working out.
- Download a time management app, such as Rescue Time, Remember The Milk, or Focus Booster.
- Stop thinking about the amount of time you need to spend to make more money. Time doesn’t create money. Value creates money. (More on this in my YouTube Money Mindset Video.) No one is paying you for your hours. Instead of thinking about the number of hours you need to work to earn money, think about how you can provide more value.
- Listen to positive mindset podcasts about time management. My podcast, Design Your Dream Life is perfect for this.
A Final Note!
Time management is something that can seem hard to master in our crazy, modern world, where we have so many options and calendars filled to the max.
It certainly takes intention, but you can become a master at time management with a little practice.
Take one of these tips and integrate it into your life. If you repeat this over and over, with a new tip every week, this time next year you’ll be a completely different person.