13 Most Successful Time Management Strategies
Updated December 18, 2018
Reviewer Sonya Bruner
Most of us agree there do not seem to be enough hours in the day. No matter what your occupation, almost everyone has trouble getting everything done.
But often the problem isn't that there aren't enough hours to get everything done but instead that time is not being managed wisely. Procrastination, ineffective to-do lists, disorganization, and constant distractions all play a role in why we don't get things accomplished.
To better complete your to-do lists each day, it is a good idea to implement time management strategies that will help you manage your time more wisely. Implementing these strategies will help you find ways to get more done in less time, freeing you up for fun and engaging activities when the work is done.
Successful people employ these strategies. Some of the strategies are habits that take time to build. But if you persevere, you will find that you have more than enough hours in the day to accomplish what you would like.
Nurses are arguably one of the most effective professionals at using time wisely. As such, a study was done by nurses in reference to the time management strategies that they use to take care of all of their patients. The study found that the number one time management technique that they used successfully is routinization.
Everyone can learn from this study. Having a routine makes tasks almost automated. When you do the same tasks every day at the same time, it builds predictability and organization into your schedule. You can make almost anything into a routine. You can have a routine for checking email and messages at specific times throughout the day or a routine of doing certain types of tasks at specific times of the day.
The same study about nurses also found that prioritization is a vitally important time management strategy. Doing the most important or most difficult tasks first makes it more likely you will get everything done on your list.
When you tackle important and difficult tasks first, it allows you to focus on those tasks completely to get them finished. Then, all you have left are small tasks that can be easily knocked out one after another. This is a much more effective way to use your time than to do tasks in a disorganized manner.
Reallocating Personal Time
Another study was done to examine how home-based workers utilize their time. This is an important distinction because home-based workers are balancing home life and work life in the same environment during the same time frame. The time management strategies that they use can teach us how to make better use of our time even in the midst of distractions.
The study found that the number one time management strategy used by successful home-based workers was a reallocation of personal time. Essentially, you must allocate personal time throughout the day, and schedule it into your daily routine. Having personal time throughout the day keeps you focused and on track to complete other tasks on time.
Effective To-Do Lists
Effective to-do lists are extremely important for time management. It is not enough to simply make a list of the tasks you need to complete. If you list every task imaginable on the list, it will become disorganized and overwhelming. Instead, make use of multiple lists and organize them.
Create a list each morning of the tasks you must complete for the day. Do not include small routine tasks, as these should be taken care of in your routinization strategy. You can also create a separate list of tasks that need to be done long-term or a bit each day that is not part of your normal routine. Prioritize the list so that the most important and difficult tasks are at the top.
Minimizing distractions is one of the most important and easiest time management strategies. Distractions are big time wasters. Some of the most common distractions are email, social media, phone calls, and other technology notifications.
The best thing you can do to minimize distractions is to put your phone on silent and turn off all notifications on your phone, tablet, and computer while you are working on a task. It is very easy to eliminate these distractions, and you'll find that you complete tasks much faster.
Many people think that they are getting more done when they multi-task, but the fact of the matter is that true multitasking is impossible for the human mind. Your mind needs wind up and wind down time each time you start or stop a task. When you are constantly bouncing between multiple tasks, your mind is spending a lot of time trying to adjust.
Instead of multi-tasking, tackle your to-do list one item at a time. Focusing all of your attention on that one task will allow you to complete it and move on much more quickly. You will discover that you get much more accomplished in less time by eliminating multi-tasking.
Make Use Of Technology
Utilize technology to keep yourself organized and on task. There are a ton of different applications out there, either for download or use online, including apps for your smartphone or tablet. These applications are designed for time management. They help you create and manage effective to-do lists and help you prioritize them.
Get And Stay Organized
If you are disorganized, you are going to waste a lot of time just trying to get ready to perform a task. When you are fully organized, you know where everything is that you need. You have the things you need for the most important or routine tasks right at your fingertips.
When you get and stay organized, you eliminate time trying to find what you are looking for or getting things situated to be able to begin a task. There are a lot of different methods of organization. Choose a method that will work best for you. It doesn't matter if it is right for someone else as long as it works for you.
One of the hardest things to accept when you are trying to get everything done on your to-do list is that sometimes one person just can't do it all. And, chances are, there are quite a few tasks on your to-do list that you don't have to do personally as long as they get done.
Delegating is a wonderful time management strategy that can be used by nearly anyone, even if you aren't in management. If you work within a team environment, and you notice someone has time that you don't have, ask them to take a couple of smaller tasks off of your plate. You can also free up personal time by delegating small tasks to your other family members or children.
Goal setting is extremely important in time management. When you have a list of tasks to complete without a clear goal, it becomes difficult to prioritize and work your way efficiently through the list. It is also difficult to ensure you remember everything that needs to be done if you don't have a clear goal.
Remember that goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time sensitive. You should have goals for larger projects, but also for each day, week or month. The more clear goals you have, the better you will be able to manage your time and task lists.
Daily And Weekly Scheduling
Don't be afraid to use your daily and weekly calendars to schedule your time. Especially when you first start trying to get a handle on time management strategies it can be helpful to schedule every part of your day. As you get better with time management, you may be able to start only putting meetings or important calls on your calendar.
Analyze How You Spend Time
It is very important when first starting to implement time management strategies that you analyze how you are spending your time. Consciously take note of how your time is spent throughout the day on a typical day. Are you getting distracted? What is keeping you from getting things done? Look closely at your habits and see what needs to be eliminated or improved.
When you analyze how you spend your time, you may discover you are losing time to things seemingly beyond your control. You may find yourself paralyzed with anxiety, doing nothing for long periods. Or you may be unable to focus your attention for any length of time.
Anything like this may suggest that professional help may be needed. If you have severe problems concentrating or focusing, consider seeking the assistance of a licensed mental health professional. A therapist can help you pinpoint problems and teach you how to cope with them.