This post is all about my top tips on time management and productivity, and the best ways to start getting more stuff done in less time.
Do you ever feel as though there just isn’t enough time? As though the tasks keep flooding your endless list of things to do and the deadlines keep on coming?
Yeah, you’re not alone there.
It can be super hard to balance everything in our busy lives – there’s always a lot to juggle. There’s our work, activities, exams, and most importantly, sleep. It seems like no 24 hours is enough time to get everything done.
As a student, I’d often find myself desperately cramming for an exam, while simultaneously catching up on lectures, deadlines and assignments.
We’ve all been there, right?
And not to forget that when time is running out fast, you sacrifice your precious sleep in order to get everything done, and you turn to live on coffee, coffee, coffee.
If you struggle with time management, you’re not on your own. A lot of us suck at it.
You see, time management isn’t really something we’re taught. We often have to learn it ourselves, hence why not many of us are that great at it.
Bad time management has a lot of negative knock-on effects. Your punctuality, school work, jobs, relationships, etc. are all affected if your time isn’t managed effectively, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.
Yeah, that’s not fun.
Fortunately, that’s what this post is for! Below are actionable tips that you can implement into your daily routine right away for increased productivity and, most importantly, better time management.
It’s important to take a good look at how you’re spending your time. If you learn how to schedule and prioritise, you’ll be able to see where your time is going, and therefore be more productive.
Ditch your procrastination, reduce your stress levels, and get more done in less time with these ten top tips on time management that no one teaches you.
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1. Set goals for each day.
This is probably the most fundamental tip on time management, and it’s to have a clear set of realistic goals for each day.
Start each day with a clear focus in your mind – what needs to get done? What do I want to achieve? Ensure there’s a rich vision in your head of how you’re going to spend the day.
A great way to do this is by laying out everything you need to do in a simple to-do list/task list, the night before. This way, you can wake up in a productive mentality for the next day.
If you know exactly what you want to do and how to get it done from the get-go, you’ll avoid wasting time and you’ll be more productive.
Whatever position you find yourself in, determine first your objective.
Also, make sure these goals are actionable and realistic. Unrealistic goals can often be a barrier when it comes to good time management.
Make sure you don’t overflow your task list with a bunch of tasks that are near impossible to complete in one day alone.
Establishing your goals for the day is so important because you won’t know what you want to achieve on that day unless they’re in place.
If you have a solid idea on how you want to spend your time for the day, you’ve laid a good foundation on effective time management, and the rest will be much easier.
2. Set a schedule…
…and stick to it too!
I get it, it can be surprisingly hard to stick to a schedule, especially when you just to want to do your own thing and go with the flow.
However, having a bit of structure to your daily routine can be super useful. You can easily see everything you need to be done at the designated time, ensuring you have enough time for other activities and commitments.
Schedules don’t have to be followed exactly, so don’t worry about sticking to a rigid structure.
Think of it this way: your daily schedule can act as a “flexible backbone” for your day. You’ve got a bunch of things you need to complete at certain times, but they can switched around and adapted to however you please.
Planning your time is an important factor in good time management, so I highly recommend trying to stick to a schedule – you’ll see they can be quite beneficial.
3. Prioritise your tasks wisely.
So, you’ve set out a task list for the day, and you’ve made a schedule. It’s a good start!
With your task list, mark the tasks that you need to do in order of priority, and then organise them accordingly in your schedule, with the most important task at the start.
In order to manage your time effectively, you need to realise the urgency of your tasks and activities. Which ones are important and which ones are… not so much?
The reality is, you may not get everything that’s on your checklist done in one day. That’s why you’ve got to know what you can put off for the next day if it comes to it, and what has to be completed as soon as possible.
Plus, it’s going to be a huge weight lifted off your shoulders when you get the most important tasks out of the way before anything else.
The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
4. Manage your activities with a calendar.
If you want to manage your time over a longer period of time, calendars are great ways to stay on top of any assignments or deadlines.
In your calendar, write down any tasks with deadlines, with the due date beside them. Marking these deadlines will help you see what you need to complete and when you need to do it by.
Having these deadlines laid out in a calendar is so important because it’s going to help you out a TON when it comes to managing time effectively.
You’ll want to plan around these tasks so you can schedule when to complete them and how to make the most of your time.
In addition, by planning in advance, you can make way for other activities and commitments in your busy lives, as well as giving space for contingencies (these are super important), just in case anything doesn’t go as planned in your schedule.
Plus, calendars are quick and easy ways to stay organised. Bonus!
5. Avoid multitasking.
An important thing to remember when it comes to time management is, multitasking is, unbelievably, a myth.
I know, right? It was a shocker for me too.
But I read up more about it and everything began to make more sense.
If you’ve got a bunch of tabs open on your computer, constantly flicking between them to get everything done at once, and you’re calling this multitasking, then you probably aren’t using your time efficiently.
I researched a bit about it and I saw this interesting quote that literally made me rethink my entire time management strategy. It read:
Multitasking is the ability to screw everything up simultaneously.
You’ve got to admit – this is kinda true.
The truth about multitasking is this: you aren’t really getting everything done at the same time. Rather, you’re quickly flicking between the tasks and… well… “screwing them up simultaneously”.
When “multitasking”, you may think that you’re getting more done in less time, but in reality, you’re actually getting a lot less done. Instead of focusing on one thing at a time, you’re trying to split your focus into a bunch of different tasks.
You’ll soon find this just doesn’t work.
A much more efficient way of time management is to put all of your focus and effort into one thing at a time. Get that task out of the way first, before moving onto another one.Multitasking? How can I do two things at once when I can't even do one thing at once? Click To Tweet
6. Have a to-do list with long-term and short-term tasks.
Closely related to setting goals and using calendars, I found that to-do lists are great ways to stay on top of all your tasks, which is exactly what you need for effective time management.
To-do lists are probably the easiest and most effective ways of keeping track of everything that needs to be done.
My favourite reason for using to-do lists is because of how it cuts down on your brain clutter.
Think of it this way: without any form of to-do list, you’re going to have to remember everything you need to do for the rest of the day, along with the fear of forgetting one of those tasks.
And then you forget one of those tasks, and you’re left kicking yourself for forgetting it.
Yeah, that’s not fun.
However, people write stuff down for a reason. Having a to-do list is the best way for you to jot down all of those tasks and deadlines on paper, so that you don’t have to remember it all.
It’s so ideal.
Plus, you’ve probably realised how hard it is to stay focused when there’s a bunch of clutter in your brain – you’ll be so focused on remembering everything that you need to do, that when it comes to actually completing those tasks, you won’t be able to concentrate.
You can only focus on one thing at a time (as I mentioned before, multitasking is totally ineffective), so the easiest way to ensure that is by writing out all of your tasks on paper (or digitally, either work).
The best ways to use to-do lists is to set a list of tasks/goals for the short-term (daily to-do lists and weekly to-do lists) and for the long-term (monthly to-do lists, maybe even yearly to-do lists). This way, you can prioritise your tasks more efficiently, as well as setting yourself clear goals for the future.
You could even go a step further and use master to-do lists – they’re great ways to take the way you manage your time to a whole other level.
7. Remove your distractions.
You might’ve realised that your distractions are HUGE time-wasters. What’s worse, distractions are literally everywhere.
Distractions can be absolutely anything, from your external distractions, such as your phone and TV, to internal distractions, such as your own thoughts and imagination.
Regardless of what they are, you don’t want to be getting distracted easily when you’re supposed to focus on your tasks. They won’t help you manage your time effectively.
Easier said than done, right?
The best way to remove your distractions is to actually recognise them first. What distracts you the most?
For me, it’s my phone. Consequently, I tend to use productivity apps, such as Forest, to track my study progress and stop me from visiting other apps, which is beyond useful.
However, mobile devices are such useful resources, regardless of how distracting they can be, and I often need to use my phone for research and extra help – blocking me from accessing other apps isn’t always what I need.
Therefore, turning on Do Not Disturb seems to do the trick. If you aren’t getting the notifications from your best friend messaging you on Snapchat, you aren’t going to get distracted by it.
If you’re easily interrupted from your work by internal distractions, however, it’s a great practice to use the Pomodoro Technique – it’s perfect for helping you stay focused over a long period of time (more below!).
Eliminating your distractions is an important step to make in order to prioritise your time management and productivity.
8. Use the Pomodoro Technique.
The Pomodoro Technique is probably the best time management technique out there. I swear by it.
I absolutely love using the Pomodoro Technique when I’m doing literally anything. Heck, I’m using it to write this blog post right now.
If you ever feeling as though you’re constantly in a race against time, trying to meet the deadlines and complete the tasks, the Pomodoro Technique is perfect for transforming time into an ally instead of, what feels like, an enemy.
The Pomodoro Technique works in five simple steps:
- Choose a task you’d like to get done.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes.
- Work on the task until the 25 minutes is up.
- Take a short break for 5 minutes.
- Every four 25-minute intervals, take a longer break for 15-30 minutes.
Of course, for the Pomodoro Technique to work effectively, it requires intention and focus on the task.
However, this time management technique is so helpful when it comes to staying focused and productive, and therefore getting more done in less time.
Plus, the use of breaks are regular intervals is a great way to redirect your focus and help you get back on the task.
The Pomodoro Technique is a must-try. You’ll start accomplishing a lot more from a small amount of time, which is so ideal.
9. Keep a clock on your desk.
Of course, the only way to manage your time effectively is to actually know the time.
It’s surprisingly easy to get lost in your work – I could get so carried away, I’d work for hours at once if I don’t have a clock in front of me.
Having a clock around you is probably the most basic necessity when it comes to managing your time. Knowing exactly how long you’re working for is pretty important if you want to plan around and schedule other tasks for the day.
If you’ve got a clock near you, such as your mobile phone clock, wall clock, etc., you won’t lose track of the time and you won’t fall behind.
10. Stop procrastinating.
Procrastination is probably the biggest time waster of them all.
You’ve got to realise what’s taking your time away in order to manage it efficiently. Is it social media? Are you always checking your emails?
Once you know what it is, cut it off. As I mentioned before, distractions are huge causes of procrastination.
I put the ‘pro’ in procrastination.
Especially if you’re under time-pressure and there are a ton of important things to get done by deadlines, procrastination is not the way to go. You’ll end up falling behind, running after time and… well, it’s not so fun.
By using all the above points, such as tasks lists, the Pomodoro Technique and removing your distractions, you’ll find yourself being productive and managing your time effectively.
Take a look at your schedule – are there tasks you can do today? If so, do it today. Don’t put it off until tomorrow.
This is how you can make the most of your time. Pushing your time with procrastination is only going to waste it, so in order to manage your time well, you’ve actually got to use it!
Start Managing Your Time Effectively
Time management is a super important skill to master, and although it’s not something we’re necessarily taught, these tips are perfect for pointing you in the right direction.
As all of the points mentioned above are kind of intertwined and related, it’s best to practise all of them together for the best results. That’s how to master time management and become a boss.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy some of these posts too!:
- What Is The Pomodoro Technique?
- 15 Top Tips on Studying At Home: The BEST Ways To Be Productive and Stay Motivated
- 5 Easy Ways To Improve Your Study Habits
What do you think about these time management strategies? How are you going to implement them into your daily study routine? Let me know in the comments below!