25 Practical Time Management Tips To Help You Smash Your Goals

September 19

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Regardless of how much we’d all like to have extra hours in our day to get things done, we’re limited by what we have to work with. We could keep wishing for more time. Or we can find ways to make the most of the hours available by practising some of these time management tips.

Disclosure: If you purchase anything from links in this post or any other, I may receive some kind of affiliate commission. However, I only ever mention products I love and would recommend whether I was being compensated or not.

The majority of hard-working people want to practice proper time management. Everyone always starts out well with this. We read tons of books full of time management tips. Great, cracked it! But we forget to figure in some of the most significant things that sabotage time.

Time Management Tips for Interruptions

Interruptions are one of the biggest time thieves in your life. You may not have tallied how much time you lose by other people or situations barging into your day.

Here are some tips to help you cut down or better deal with interruptions.

1. Build time into every aspect of your day for those interruptions that we all experience.

You will never have a single day that’s not interrupted by something unexpected. This is usually what throws people off course. It can break your concentration, making it harder for you to get the flow back.

If you’re at work and someone pops in for “a minute,” you’ll notice that it always turns into a lot longer. Before you know it, half an hour to an hour will have passed and you can’t get that time back.

You want to allow time for these interruptions. Do this by looking at your day and figuring out how much time you have to give. For example, when someone walks into your office, you can say, “I’m working on a project so I can only spare five minutes.”

At the end of five minutes, if the other person is still there, you say, “I’m sorry, but my time is up, and I have to get back to this.” If you respect your time, others will, too.

2. Plan your day the night before.

This gives you a go-to launching place. You know what you have to start on first. It helps you to manage time if you have a map to follow. Even if it’s a list of what you must achieve that day.

3. Plan your phone conversations.

Phone calls are a huge time waster. But try to plan your conversations before you make the call. Doing this helps you stay in control of how long the conversation lasts. If someone calls you and you need to get off the phone, you simply say that you have to go.

Most people don’t want to risk sounding rude. So, they’ll remain on phone conversations that are taking up a lot of their time.  If that sounds like you, there are several easy ways to end a phone conversation.

You can say that you’re in a time crunch and have to go or that you need to take care of something. Usually, that will cause the other person to say goodbye and end the call.

It’s okay to tell someone you can’t talk at the moment and will have to get back to them. Try not to allow yourself to become someone else’s sounding board for all their problems. Do this too often, and you will get taken advantage of.

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4. Don’t let technology interruptions disrupt your time management.

When someone isn’t dropping by your office or home, they’re reaching out to you through email or on social media. These can quickly take up hour after hour of your day. It is also so easy to get sucked into playing a game while you’re handling something online.

If being on social media is a must for you, let it be a scheduled interruption. For example, you write it on your planner that at lunch, you’ve scheduled ten minutes to be on social media.

Stick to that time as if it were an appointment. Use an alarm on your smartphone or set an egg timer so that you’re made aware of the end time of this distraction. These days, this is probably one of the most effective time management strategies.

5. Separate the interruptions between what must be dealt with and what doesn’t at that time.

You don’t have to make someone else’s urgency your priority, and you’ll see this a lot when it comes to work-related things. Someone didn’t get what they needed and all of a sudden, they want to drop it in your lap.

Or, they want you to stop everything you’re doing to help them get out of a jam. There’s something to be said for good teamwork. But if this is a recurring situation, it’s time to put the brakes on bailing others out.

Time Management Tips for Prioritising

There are billions of people and billions of things that have to get done each day. But there is only one you and you can’t do it all. So you have to prioritise what gets done and what gets moved to another day or delegated to others.

6. Look at your day’s to-do list often.

Begin your day by starting with the most essential item on your list.

There’s a psychological reason you want to do it this way. When you do the necessary tasks first and finish them, it gives you a feel-good release of hormones. It will make you feel more energised and more like tackling other items on your list.

Use your to-do list as one of your most valued time management tools.

Plus, you get to see that you’re making progress. Never start with the most straightforward task and put off the most essential task. There’s a chance you may not get to it by the time the day ends. This is when anxiety sets in.

7. It is okay to refuse opportunities that will take up too much of your time.

You cannot involve yourself in every activity. You can’t attend every single meeting that you’d like to. You’ll end up feeling overworked and frazzled. For example, if you work from home and there are several webinars you’d like to attend, there is a way to decide which ones to go to.

You need to look at the ones that will give you the most benefit both personally and professionally.  Sometimes there might be things you’re interested in, but will not help you move forward. That might mean you have to pass. That's okay

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8. Get enough rest

Believe it or not, sleep is one of the most important time management activities you can do.

If you push yourself to go beyond what you should do by cutting back on sleep, this will catch up to you. When you lose sleep, it can cause you to lose focus. 

This means you’ll start doing sloppy work and you’ll find yourself having to redo work, or you’re sluggish to begin with. When you start giving up your needed rest, your immune system becomes weakened. You’ll be more susceptible to catching whatever virus is going around.

You’ll end up losing time rather than being a good manager of it. You might want to stay up later and wake up earlier to get more done. But being well-rested means you become far more productive. Quality of work improves, too.

9. Take care of yourself in other ways

Make sure that you get the exercise you need, too. Physical activity is something that actually helps you with time management. It keeps your energy levels high.

Plus, taking a break from responsibilities gives you a chance to refresh your mind. You'll be able to come back to the task with a fresh outlook. Increased focus helps with productivity. It also saves you time in the long run.

10. Remember to take time off

There can be a temptation to work full speed ahead. Doing whatever it takes to get all of the things done that you need to get done. Many people give up time with friends and family to try to gain more time.

People bring work home on weekends, or they work on a to-do list all weekend around the house to get things done. I know many people who haven’t had a vacation in years. Not because they can’t afford it. But because they don’t feel like they have the time.

But if you take time off, you end up getting more done. Your body, as well as your mind, needs time where it has absolutely nothing it “must” focus on.

Time Management Tips for Letting Go of Perfectionism

When someone is a perfectionist, the job has to be done perfectly. These types of high achievers can experience more stress than anyone else. When it comes down to it, perfectionism will ultimately work against you.

11. It is okay not to do everything

Forget about multi-tasking. No one can multi-task successfully! Multi-tasking is synonymous with doing several jobs poorly all at once. Which is very frustrating to someone with perfectionist tendencies.

You don’t have to achieve everything in one day. Rather, concentrate on what’s right in front of you that has to be done first. Get that finished and then move on with the next item.

12. Give everything you do a time limit.

Whether you’re a perfectionist or not, this is a good rule of thumb for anyone. Open-ended tasks pile up because there’s no finish line.

So when you look at the whole picture of what has to be accomplished with the time you have, it can feel overwhelming. It’s better to break the things you have to do down.

If you have a project that has to be finished by a specific deadline, you need to divide that project up. Divide it into chunks so you can clearly see how long it will take to get the work done.

Say the project will take 40 hours to complete and you have two weeks to get it done. You know you have to work on it 20 hours per week or 5 hours per day. Also, take into account interruptions and other obstacles that will get in the way. 

Make one of your time management activities taking time to break all your projects down so you know exactly what you need to do and how long it will take.

13. Don’t schedule anything back to back.

You have to have some time where your mind can relax and get away. Even two to five minutes. Mental exhaustion is often more draining than physical fatigue.

Like your body, your brain can’t go full speed ahead on something without needing a time out every so often. Between your to-do list tasks, break and do something enjoyableor do nothing at all.

14. Divide your tasks up in your personal and professional life by hours, days, months, seasons or year.

For example, if you know that every fall the gutters on your home have to be cleaned from the leaves. You’ll want to put some time aside for that task on your schedule.

If you know that every year, there’s a Christmas party at work, put that on your calendar, too. If you own a business that has seasonal items, you’ll want to schedule those aspects. Schedule releasing those products, press releases or email newsletters ahead of time. You don’t want to wait until December to talk about December projects.

15. Look over your to-do list - you should have one for both home and office - and cut it down.

Most people end up with poor time management because their to-do list has too many items on it. That’s because even the possibility of achieving things makes us feel good.

But people often set up tasks that they can’t achieve because there’s not enough time.  It’s like setting yourself up for failure. Whittle the list down. If there’s time left over, you’ll feel a bonus that you got something “extra” done. This is much better than feeling as if you have failed to complete something imperative.

Time Management Tips for Getting Organised

Everyone has areas of life where there’s a lack of organisation. Whether it’s at home or the office. We misplace things, and we can’t find things when we need them because we’re not organised.

Getting organised is a big help with time management. Declutter your home and office before you attempt to tackle time management.

16. Forget the elaborate systems.

Any system you use for organising your life that takes a lot of time to keep up with is actually a waste of time. An organisational system should enhance your life, not detract from it.

You can use a simple thing like an expandable folder to keep track of bills or projects. You can also use a filing cabinet with hanging folders.

Don’t overcomplicate your organisation system. Invest in simple solutions. Watch how it transforms the way you manage your time and act more productively.

17. Don’t procrastinate.

This is a big problem for a lot of people in all walks of life. We don’t like to do the things we don’t like to do. It’s as simple as that. No one wants to do the hard jobs that seem tedious.

We don’t want to do the job that’s going to take us five hours to complete when the sun is shining. We’d rather kick back and go to the beach or spend time with friends.

When you get the most difficult tasks over with, they’re done. You'll have that sense of satisfaction that it’s now behind you. One of the most significant time management problems is with paperwork.

If you haven’t switched to electronic file keeping, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the volume of documents. Since you don’t want specific sensitive information stored online, you’ll want to keep that at home.

When you get essential paperwork, take care of it immediately. Put it where it needs to go. If there’s something that requires you to make a phone call, put the paper in your desk inbox. Make a note in your planner to schedule a time to make that call.

18. Group similar items together at home to save time.

For example, if you have to run errands, group all the errands that are within the same area together. Try to work it out so that you only have to deal with one errand day a month.

Do the banking, post office needs and any medication pickups on the same day. Driving can be a big leak in your time management success. You can’t do much else except maybe listen to a podcast or something else you need to listen to.

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19.  Group similar items together at the office.

You can do the same when it comes to work-related tasks. Things that have to be done every week can be grouped by days. You can also group tasks according to difficulty and length of assignments.

If you need to drop something off at someone’s office and you have a meeting, drop the item off when you head to the meeting. This also helps prevent time wasted chatting when you have to be somewhere.

20. Have a calendar for both home and office.

Keep your calendar where you can see it every day. You can put it on the wall or on your desk. The ones with the large blocks that enable you to write appointments in them work best.

This way, you can see your day at a glance and your week and month as well. These larger calendars often work better as time management tools than small ones you can tuck away.

Bonus Time Management Tips: Finding More Time

You can manage time better by finding lost time. Lost time is that which you didn’t even realise you were wasting in the first place. It’s almost like keeping change in a piggy bank and one day you realise it’s totalled over $100!

21. Don’t waste the time that most people do.

There are ways to find times that are often overlooked. People tend to think of time management as being large blocks of time available. But you can do a lot with ten or fifteen minutes.

Don’t waste the time you have while waiting in a doctor’s office or while exercising. If you like to use a treadmill, you can get one that has a desk so that you can take care of something at the same time.

22. Realise that not everything that seems important is.

It only seems that way. Look at your life and stop doing the things that aren’t important that drain your time. If something isn’t a matter of you being happy and succeeding. Then it might not be essential.

23. Run ahead, not behind.

When you get behind schedule, it can make you feel a lot of pressure, and it adds stress to your life. Try to get things done ahead of time because this gives you a buffer.

24. Delegating is a great way to help with effective time management strategies

Most people like to do things themselves because they know then that the job is done to their standard. But if you do the things that others can do, it’s draining your time. Sometimes drains are stuff like mowing the grass, scheduling meetings, handling social media.

What you can do is to look at how much it costs you do the tasks that you do. If someone else can do them, then you’re not only losing time - you’re losing money.

If you earn $200 per hour, then an hour of mowing the grass costs you $200. But if you pay someone $50 to mow the lawn, then you saved an hour and $150 because you gained time.

25. Deal with emails the right way.

Handling email causes more people to get off track than any other online task. Manage your time wisely with email by setting aside a specific time to deal with email. Set a time limit for how long you’ll take responding to the messages.

If they’re not important, don’t save them to look at later because they’ll only pile up in your inbox. If your life allows you to, hire an assistant to deal with handling your email.

Disclosure: If you purchase anything from links in this post or any other, I may receive some kind of affiliate commission. However, I only ever mention products I love and would recommend whether I was being compensated or not.

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