32 Time Management Tips That Will Change Your Life Completely
Brian Tracy is one of the top authors and speakers on Time Management. He states that time management is life management.
If we’re capable of managing our time during the day, we’ll have a feeling of satisfaction. And consequently, a happy life.Start Tracking Your Time Today
Think about it.
If you manage your time well and achieve your goals, you’ll feel good about yourself, and you’ll live a happy life.
On the other side, if you can’t manage your time, you’ll have a constant feeling of frustration and underachievement.
Time management is a science that I’ve been studying during the last ten years. I’ve read books by some of the best authors on Time Management including Laura Vanderkam, Stephen R. Covey, Brian Tracy, Peter Bregman, David Allen, Arnold Bennett, and Mark Foster.
As you can imagine, I’ve gathered an enormous amount of knowledge over the years. Applying that knowledge has helped me achieve my goals, and made my life happier.
In this article, I am going to share my top 32 tips on time management. They’re 100% guaranteed to work if you put them into an action.
#1 Plan Your Day the Night Before
“Every minute spent in planning saves 10 minutes in execution.” – Brian Tracy
Always give yourself a few minutes at the end of the day to plan for tomorrow. I prefer to use pen and paper for this activity. This ritual helps clear your mind and sets your agenda for first thing in the morning.
If anything mega urgent arrives overnight, you can deal with it first. But otherwise, you have your plan for the day.
#2 Take a Walk Early in the Morning
There’s nothing quite like an invigorating walk first thing in the morning.
Ditch the coffee. Breathe in the fresh air instead.
Try walking for 30 minutes to enjoy the release of serotonin and dopamine.
#3 Don’t Open Your Email Until 1 pm
A few years ago I tried to answer each email by my clients ASAP.
Then I realized that I’m running a business. I don’t have to react to emails like a customer support operative. I can answer emails later.
My rule is to check emails twice a day. And never before 1 pm.
#4 Use the A-B-C-D-E Method for Priorities
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by too many things to do and too little time to do them?
I know I do.
Here’s how to overcome it.
Start by writing everything down on a piece of paper. The act of writing with pen and paper helps clear your mind.
You won’t have time to do everything on your list. But you can identify the most important things with the A-B-C-D-E method.
Go through your list and categorize each item with one of these letters.
- A – Very Important: something that you must do else there will be a negative impact.
- B – Important: something you should do.
- C – Nice To Do: something that can wait.
- D – Delegate: something you can assign to someone else to complete.
- E – Eliminate, Whenever Possible: something you can remove from your list altogether.
Now, you’ll have a clear picture of what order to tackle your tasks.
#5 Complete Your ‘A’ Task First
Don’t give yourself fifty tasks to complete each day. You’ll fail miserably.
Use the A-B-C-D-E method to highlight your ‘A’ Tasks and pick two or three of them.
Get those completed first and you’ll feel good in yourself – you’ve achieved your goals for the day. Anything else is a bonus.
#6 Identify Your Biggest Time Wasters
Do you know your biggest time wasters? Perhaps it’s time spent browsing Facebook, or watching TV, or playing on your Xbox?
Start tracking your time and you’ll soon discover how much time you’re spending on each activity. When you realize how much time you’ve wasted, you can drop those activities.
#7 Do Something During Waiting Time
We’re not always at our desk. There are things in life that are a waste of time, like queuing at the checkout.
Find things to do during this time; for example:
- Save articles to Pocket so you can read them offline when you’re waiting at the airport or the dentist.
- Download a podcast so you can listen while you’re exercising at the gym or traveling on the train.
Maximize your time.
#8 Ask Yourself the Right Questions
Do you find yourself procrastinating about the next task on your list?
Then ask yourself why…
- Is it too difficult or too easy?
- Are you bored or tired?
- What’s stopping you from moving ahead?
Don’t waste your time and energy on the things you’re putting off. Ask yourself the right questions and tackle the issue.
#9 Perfectionists Are Losers
Don’t fuss about unimportant details. You’ll never get everything done exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.
Just get things done and remember that there is more than one way to do something.
#10 Batch Similar Tasks Together
You’ll complete more of your tasks by batching related items together; for example:
- Researching upcoming assignments
- Writing new articles
- Marketing: updating your website and social media channels
- Business development: pitching new clients
- Admin Tasks: emails and invoicing
When you put similar tasks together you gain momentum.
#11 Budget Your Time Like Your Money
Create a budget for your time, like you would for your money.
Use a simple t-bar with credits and debits.
On one side you have Time for moneymaking activities. And on the other, you have Time for non-moneymaking activities.
Make sure you budget more time on the moneymaking activities.
#12 Create Artificial Urgency
A common mistake that we all fall into is not allowing ourselves enough time to complete a project.
When you plan a project set realistic deadlines that allow plenty of contingency.
This way you’ll prevent those last-minute rush jobs where you deliver poor quality. And you’ll feel good for completing a project under time.
#13 If Someone Else Can Do It: Delegate
There’s no reason why you shouldn’t outsource or delegate some tasks to another person; e.g. a virtual assistant.
When you do the math, it can often work out more cost effective than you first thought.
For example, let’s say your hourly rate is $100 per hour. If it takes you two hours to go through your emails each day, that’s $200 you can’t bill to a client. Consider outsourcing your email management to a VA who could get it done in one hour.
#14 Make a Time Diary
Try this exercise.
For one week, record what you do every day.
Be honest. If you watch 10 hours of TV each week, write it down.
You have to include everything:
- gym time
- weekly meetings
You’ll be surprised to see how much time you spend on all these different activities.
It’s a painful awakening for most people. But it’s difficult to make intelligent decisions about using your time more efficiently if you don’t know what you’re doing each day.
#15 Don’t Be Afraid To Say No
Too often we feel pressured to say ‘Yes’ when it’s OK to say ‘No.’
You don’t have to agree to do everything.
- Don’t be afraid to say, “No,” if it’s not convenient right now.
If your friend asks you to go to a movie one night but you have other plans then say no. Suggest an alternative time that works for both of you.
- Don’t be afraid to say, “No,” if you’re uncomfortable with a request.
If a prospective client asks you to work on a project that’s outside of your niche, then politely say no.
#16 Set Time Management Goals
Remember, the focus of time management is to change your behaviors, not change time.
A good place to start is to remove your personal time-wasters. For example, for one week you could set a goal that you’re not going to check Facebook or respond to Tweets while you’re working.
#17 Read Books about Time Management
There are plenty of useful books on Time Management. Keep reading them to remind you to practice the right things
#18 Don’t Do It If It’s Not Important
Before starting a new task, ask yourself the question: “Why should I do it?”
If there is no strong reason to do it, then you probably don’t need to do it.
I like a quote on this topic by Peter Drucker that I’ll share with you:
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
#19 Set a Reward
Here’s a tip to motivate yourself before starting with an important task. Set a reward that you’re going to get when it’s finished.
If you’re a writer, for example, reward yourself a sip of coffee every time you write a new paragraph of your article.
#20 Procrastination Can Be Controlled
Have you read the book ‘Eat That Frog’ by Brian Tracy? It’s a must-read!
Inside, Brian explains how to get the worst thing done first. Then you have the rest of your day for more enjoyable activities.
Often you have one task that causes you more stress. And you keep putting it off.
To break the deadlock give yourself fifteen minutes at the start of the day to eat the frog. A short, sharp burst will often help you complete the troublesome task.
#21 Take a Break
Working non-stop is not the best use of your time. Our bodies work better when we take regular breaks.
If you force yourself to keep working:
- You’ll become less productive
- Your creativity levels will drop
- You’ll make more mistakes
On top of that, you need regular sleep. Some people manage on less sleep than others. Again, find what works best for you and stick to it.
Angela Muir, head of leadership and people practice at Ashridge Business School, says.
“There’s something about stepping away from the dance floor and going up to the balcony to look down on things for a while – stepping back and recharging your batteries is a good idea.”
#22 Identify Your Prime Time
Your “prime time” is your most productive time. For many people, that time tends to be first thing in the morning while others come to life later in the day.
The truth is we’re all different, and we should find our own natural best time.
Schedule your most important tasks for the times you’re at your best. You’ll complete faster and more efficiently.
#23 Why Am I Doing What I’m Doing Right Now?
Always ask yourself “Why am I doing what I’m doing right now?”
If you’re not doing something for a particular reason, then you’re not as productive as you could be.
You should always be working on your most important task of the day. Once you’ve completed your first task, your second one becomes the most important.
#24 Track the Time and Your Progress
One of the best ways to improve your time management is through tracking your time.
Software programs, like TimeMyLife, make it easy to track your time no matter where you are. You can check if you’re spending too much time on the web, at lunch, or in meetings each day.
The information that you get from the time tracking software will help you get a better understanding of how and where you can make changes in your life.
#25 Chunk Down Your Tasks
One of the most effective ways to manage your time is to group similar tasks into chunks of time. For example, you could set aside one hour to make all your telephone calls, one hour to answer all your emails, etc.
Putting your tasks in chunks helps your brain focus on the skills needed to complete those tasks rather than jumping from one task to another and back again. Try it and see how your productivity rises.
#26 Set Time Limits On Your Tasks
Parkinson’s Law states:
“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
This is why you need to set time limits on your tasks.
When you allocate a specific time to a specific task, then you’ll become more productive.
For example, give yourself 30 minutes to research a topic for your next article.
Top Tip: Use a countdown timer to create more urgency as you work towards completing your task in the allotted time. When the time is up, move onto your next task.
If you don’t set a time limit, you’ll end up wasting time.
Don’t allow perfection to sabotage your success.
#27 Stick to the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 Rule states that 80 percent of your efforts will bring about 20 percent of your results. And on the flip-side, 20 percent of your efforts will bring about 80 percent of your results.
You can apply this principle to time management. Decide which of your tasks are the most important. Ask yourself which tasks will yield the most significant results at the end of the day.
Focus on accomplishing your 20 percent tasks first. And then move on to the remaining 80 percent.
#28 Organize Your Environment
How much time do you waste each day searching for misplaced items?
Frustrating, isn’t it?
If only you’d followed your mother’s wise words, “Put it back where you got it from.”
What you thought was a boring statement was a classic time management tip.
You can apply this tip to physical and virtual things; for example:
- If you receive an invoice through the post, then file it in your ‘Invoices Folder’ in the filing cabinet.
- If you receive a payment from PayPal via email, then file it in your PayPal folder on your computer.
Putting things in the correct place will save you loads of time when you need it. Everything you need access to should be a few clicks away.
#29 Hire a Coach or Mentor to Keep You Accountable
Hiring a coach or mentor may not seem like an obvious time management tip.
But think about it.
Without a coach or mentor, you’ll waste time chasing rabbits down rabbit holes; i.e. you’ll lose your focus.
But a good coach or mentor will keep you accountable; they’ll keep you on track, so you achieve your goals. They’ll provide a support mechanism and a sounding board to test new ideas.
As Ariana Ayu writes:
“We all need help, and none of us can see ourselves 100% objectively. Hire someone you trust who will hold your hand AND kick your behind when you need it. Both are necessary.”
#30 Using a “To Do” List or a Task List
Having a list of things to do is a valuable aid to managing your time. But often, people get hung up on their To Do Lists.
They spend more time writing a list, then rearranging it in some order, then crossing off items, to the point it becomes an obsession.
A better approach is to have a task list.
Now, instead of wasting time rearranging items on the list, ask yourself: “What is the most important thing I need to do right now?”
There’s only one answer. When you challenge yourself and drill down the list, you’ll find that there’s one thing to do. It’ll be the absolute most pressing thing that will have the most impact.
Managing a task list is more productive than maintaining a To Do list. Focus on one thing at a time, and you’ll achieve extraordinary results.
#31 Avoid the Habit of Just Staying Busy
It’s an easy trap to fall into. And it can spiral into a bad habit.
But keeping busy is a form of procrastination.
If you immerse yourself in an endless stream of things to do, you can soon lose sight of your goals and objectives.
That’s why it’s so important to step back and evaluate your task list. Decide on the most important tasks and activities, and focus on those.
Remember the 80/20 Rule.
#32 Apply What You Know
This final tip is the most important rule of all.
You can neglect any of the other points, but not number 32.
Remember, if you don’t apply it, you don’t know it. And you won’t see the benefits of it.
“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”
– Johann Wolfgang von GoetheStart Tracking Your Time Today