Time Management: Run Your Days So They Don’t Run You!

As we move into spring, it’s likely your schedule has gotten a bit more crowded – work deliverables, professional events, kids’ activities, family get-togethers, and personal commitments to maintain your own mental and physical health – it all takes time! So, how do you make time for everything without compromising quality or balance?

One thing to understand about time management is that we really aren’t managing time. We all have a finite, fixed amount of time in every day, so managing time is really about managing decisions. It involves making decisions about what to act on now, later, or even never. Once we learn how to make better decisions more quickly, then we can achieve more of the goals we have for ourselves in a more structured and less stressful manner. Here are 5 tips to help you make the best decisions about how to spend your time:


#1 – Get the To-Dos Out of Your Head

Our brains can’t work effectively when too many thoughts and ideas are swirling around. We also can’t know what is really important or most important without fully laying out all the things that need to be done. Without a solid list, we will struggle with mental clutter, overwhelm, stress, and anxiety.

While our brains are incredibly powerful and capable of performing a wide range of tasks, they are not designed to be efficient storage devices for information like to-do lists. As productivity guru David Allen says, “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” So the first step is to literally get all the to dos rolling around in the nooks and crannies of your brain out. You can use sticky notes, a running list on your computer, good ol’ pen & paper, or an app like Workflowy, ToDoist, or Asana.


#2 – Give Everything a Deadline 

Next, review your list and identify the things you’ve been letting drag on and give yourself a deadline to get them done. Rather than let things pile up on your to-do list, give yourself a date to complete your most important tasks and projects. Start with the items that have a definite client-driven or work-driven due date, then once those are prioritized, fill in your to-do list with the other less-pressing tasks.

It’s important to give EVERYTHING a deadline! Having goals and setting deadlines is a proven way to stay organized and make the best use of your time. And when you give yourself a deadline, stick to it.


#3 – Set Your Top 3 Priorities Each Day

You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. This is especially true for busy professionals whose day could get derailed with a single phone call or email. So, how do you best manage through that? At the start of your day (or the night before), identify the most important things you must accomplish that day. What MUST be done before all else?

The key is to decide, right off the bat, what are the few things that you want or need to accomplish for the day. Then you won’t let the little challenges that inevitably come derail your day. For example, if your three priorities are to write a blog post, conduct a brainstorming session, and develop a project plan, then an unexpected phone call or an email or Slack request won’t throw you off. When someone calls to chat, find a way keep it short and get back to your priority list.


#4 – Plan Your High-Priority Tasks During YOUR Most Productive and Energetic Hours of the Day

Early birds, don’t plan to get your priority tasks done after lunch or even late in the afternoon. Use all your boundless morning energy to knock out your important tasks first thing in the day. And night owls… if you can get more done between 9 pm and midnight than all the other hours of your day combined, plan to knock things off during that time. And plan to work on your high-focus tasks during that time.


#5 – Power Hour

Designate one hour a couple of times a week (maybe Monday and Friday afternoons) as your “Power Hour” – go through your to-do list and pick tasks that can be done in 15 minutes or less. Then, set a timer, play fun, energetic music, and go! It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you have a definite start and end time.


Have questions about how you or your team can better manage time, increase efficiency, and improve productivity? We have decades of experience in these areas and would LOVE to help. Get in touch to learn more!