The 30 best time management tips of all time
Great time management will help you to do more in less time, lower your stress levels, have more free time for the activities you love, and create more opportunities for yourself.
In this blog post, we’ll focus on the 30 best time management tips of all time. These tips are very specific recommendations on how to manage time better.
Like time management quotes, time management tips are usually short, precise, and to the point pieces of wisdom that you can immediately implement and improve your time management.
Out of our 30 best time management tips of all time, we have also selected the 5 best ones and explained them to a greater extent. We hope you enjoy going through these tips, and don’t forget to implement a few of them.
The ultimate list of time management tips
Here is the ultimate list of 30+ time management tips:
1. Always Start with “Why”. Know exactly why you want to improve your time management. Is it to work less/do more and earn more, or something else? Only a strong ”Why” fuels you with the necessary emotional motivation to really improve something.
2. Set SMART goals. If you want to improve your time management, you have to first know what you want and why you want it. Set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. When your long-term goals are clearly set, it’s much easier to determine weekly and daily priorities.
3. Prioritize tasks using the Eisenhower matrix and learn to separate urgent and important tasks. The tasks that are important and urgent you should do immediately. You should schedule the tasks that are important and not urgent (for example, exercising). The tasks that are urgent, but not important, should be delegated, and all the rest deleted from your to-do list.
4. Plan your working week on Sunday evening, and every morning during the week select the three most important tasks for the day. Start your day with the most demanding task, and complete these three most important tasks no matter what. The concept is called “eat that frog.”
5. Use to-do lists. With to-do lists you free your brain capacity; you have a bigger picture of what needs to be done and can easily set priorities. You can also use other lists, such as reading lists, shopping lists, not-to-do list etc. Don’t burden your brain with things that can be put on paper. Build your second brain with a good to-do list system and note-taking solution.
6. Timebox the most important tasks in your calendar. Timeboxing means reserving a slot of time in your calendar for a specific task. It’s the same idea as scheduling a meeting. When the scheduled time comes, you simply start working on the task, and then do so for the whole reserved time block without any distractions.
7. To-do lists and a calendar should be your basic time management tools. Use them both and, as mentioned, schedule meetings and time slots on your calendar for working on the important tasks in complete peace. The other necessary tools for good time management are a note-taking app and a good time tracker. Distraction prevention and habit tracking tools can also be extremely valuable.
8. Research shows that more than 50% of meetings are unnecessary. People have them to socialize, feel important, share opinions, avoid decision making, and so on. Minimize the number of meetings in your calendar, and only go to the ones that are really necessary.
9. Put a limit on how much time you will spend on a task. You can dedicate 5 or 50 hours to it, and the quality of output will differ accordingly, but just be sure not to overdo things or spend too much time on them, especially if they are not important.
10. If a task takes less than 3 minutes, do it right away.
11. You can only manage what you measure. Make sure you track how much time you spend on a certain task, and help yourself to optimize how you spend time with good time tracking reports. A good time tracker can be one of the best ways to improve your time management.
12. Limit work in progress, namely by making sure you don’t put too much on your plate. If there are too many tasks on a to-do list for a week, you’ll feel overwhelmed and that will be counter-productive. Make sure you put limits to the quantities of your work.
13. When you work on important tasks, make sure you do the deep type of work. You want to work as much time in a day as possible on hard tasks, without any distractions and in a complete focus. Only deep work can give you elite outputs.
14. For all scheduled focused work in the flow, put a “do not disturb” sign on the door, turn off your phone, and disconnect from the internet. Let people know during which hours of the day you’re not available. Make sure nothing gets in a way of you doing deep work.
15. Batch similar tasks together. For example, have a meeting in the afternoon, and batch all the meetings for a week into one afternoon. Similarly, plan errands at the same location in the same timeslot.
16. Take regular breaks between tasks. After every 45 – 120 minute work block take a break to refresh, stretch, and recharge your energy levels. You can use the Pomodoro technique to plan your breaks.
17. Make sure you take enough time off to recharge. At least one day per week, one extended weekend every quarter, and a whole week two times per year. If you work too much and don’t take time to recharge, your productivity levels start to drop. In the same way, make sure you take enough time away from technology and spend enough time in nature.
18. Find out where you waste the most time. Every one of us has a “kryptonite” - an activity where we simply spend too much time for some emotional reason. It could be meetings, emails, logistics, social media, conflicts, etc. Find your kryptonite in time management and start working on decreasing the time wasted.
19. We all feel ultra-productive when multitasking, but in reality, this is a big waste of time. You are much less productive when trying to accomplish several tasks in the same time frame. You can find hundreds of scientific studies that very clearly show that multi-tasking simply doesn’t work, so avoid it.
20. Avoid the fake feeling of progress. Fake progress in your life appears when you are doing activities that are closely connected to your goal but do not provide any real added value or progress. These are activities like: doing too much research, planning too much, over-analyzing, suffering from information overflow, talking about it instead of doing it, and so on...
21. Learn how to say “No”. You have to carefully guard your schedule and your time. To do that, you have to learn how to say no to people and activities that don’t resonate with your goals, or your company’s goals.
22. Just as you have to learn how to say no, you also have to learn how to delegate and outsource tasks. Make sure you focus on the most valuable tasks and leverage other people’s time for the rest.
23. Email can be one of the biggest distractions during working hours. If you have your email client constantly open when you’re behind your computer, it can be a big obstacle to doing real deep work. Emails that persistently flow in can be a huge distraction. In some cases email can be real work, but in many cases it can be one of the biggest time wasters. Learn other email management tips.
24. Have a tidy and clean working environment. A clean desk can do wonders for your productivity levels. Make sure your working environment reflects you as a highly-organized person.
25. Make sure your computer and other tech gadgets are also optimized for productivity. Don’t have too many programs, highly organize your folders, and make sure you don’t have any malware. Buy as fast a computer as you can afford.
26. An easy way to make a big improvement in productivity is definitely by having two big monitors. You should maybe even use three, but they can emit too much radiation and this could cause headaches. In any case, you won’t believe how much more productive you can be on a computer with multiple screens compared to a laptop or a tablet.
27. Try to start your day early. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” From 5am to 7 am, when everyone else is asleep, you can do a lot of productive work.
28. Every one of us has a different personal biorhythm. Find out if you are more of a morning or an evening person. Identify your personal biorhythm, then plan naps and walks for the less energetic time of the day, and creative flows or agile execution for that time of the day when you feel the most productive and energetic.
29. If possible, don't do something when the majority of the people do it – for example commuting at rush hour or going to the gym when it is busiest.
30. Establish healthy routines. A routine is something that you do automatically, without any effort. For example, if you develop a routine of starting your day with the most important task, it will become something that you get used to do and your productivity will skyrocket.
31. Drinking at least 2 - 3 liters of water per day will help you stay fresh, focused, and energized. When your mouth is dry, you are already too late. The best way to follow this advice is to have a bottle of water with you at all times and just drink it throughout the day.
32. Negative people are ultra-uncomfortable distractions in your life. Not only do they waste your time, but they also suck the energy out of you. Stay away from such people. Surround yourself with people who motivate you, encourage you, and help you achieve your goals.
The best five time management tips explained
Out of all 30+ time management tips, we have selected the 5 best time management tips of all time. These are the ones you should absolutely implement to improve your productivity and become the master of time management.
- Learn how to manage distractions
- Work in the flow as much time as possible
- Sharpen the saw – regularly invest in yourself
- Follow minimalism and light asset life and living “in the cloud”
- Track how you spend time
Now let’s deep dive into each time management tip.
1. Learn how to manage distractions
The biggest productivity killers are distractions. Reacting to every interruption or distraction from your environment is a productivity disaster. That’s because it takes 5, 10, 30 or even more minutes to fall back into a working flow every time you’re interrupted.
Here is the list of the main distractions trying to steal your attention:
- Managers and people stopping by
- Social media
- Instant messaging
- Daily news
- Logistics and waiting time
- Entertainment (TV, games, etc.)
- Smartphones (as an all-in-one distraction)
- Energy vampires
By far the best advice for dealing with distractions is to eliminate them way before they get a chance to kick you out of the working flow. You have to outsmart all the distractions and interruptions.
You have to analyze your weak points, set rules to help you neutralize weaknesses, grab the most appropriate productivity tools, and build a unique system that really works for you. You have to outsmart yourself and the environment you currently operate in.
Put your phone on airplane mode, unplug your computer from the internet, put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your office doors, and make sure nothing distracts you when you want to do deep work.
It's not that easy to do, but it’s hard to be productive if you don’t organize yourself and everything around you in a smart way. Also, never rely on your self-discipline, because this is not how you’ll win this game. Think of yourself as the architect of a system that will enable you to be super productive.
2. Work in the flow as much as possible
Working in a flow is one of the most productive states a human being can experience. When you get into the flow, you forget about the time, your worries and problems, and just about everything else. You just create and deliver.
To work in the flow, you have to work on a task that is a little bit out of your comfort zone, a task that represents a challenge for you, and something that you are also naturally skilled at. Additionally, you have to work in complete focus, without any distractions and interruptions. You also need to be well rested and emotionally calm.
When you become great at distraction management, you have to start training your brain to work in the flow and do deep work. You need to train your attention span and brain capacity to do more and more demanding tasks for longer and longer periods of time.
3. Sharpen the saw – regularly invest in yourself
A very important rule among time management techniques is sharpening the saw. Sharpening the saw means not forgetting to take care of all four of your bodies– the physical, emotional, mental and, spiritual ones.
The more you take care of yourself, the more energy you will have for productive work.
- For your physical body, exercise, eat healthy, avoid stress, and sleep a lot.
- For your emotional body, connect with positive people, make love, think optimistically, enjoy everyday life, be grateful, believe in yourself, and manage your emotions.
- For your mental health, read books, do new things, do some brain exercises, create something artistic, go to a museum, do some math, wash your teeth with your non-dominant arm, brainstorm, meditate, and so on.
- As for your spiritual life, keep finding and realigning your life purpose, give back to the community, be a good person, help others and donate, and so on. What you give, you will get back.
4. Follow minimalism and asset-light living
In order to be organized to the fullest, you should be a fan of minimalism. Try to have as few things as possible in life. Much like people, thoughts, words and tasks; material things also take space, energy, and time in your life.
Throw away everything you haven’t used in the past three months. Have as few things as possible. All you need is your brain, happiness, some money in your bank account, and the things in your digital cloud. Eliminate all the waste from your life.
You also want to have as many things as possible “in the cloud” – from your music to your movies, documents, software, notes, records, and so on.
If you have everything in the cloud, even if you lose your device or it breaks down you won’t lose anything. You just simply buy a new device, enter your passwords, and everything synchronizes.
You can be really productive by having your life organized in the cloud. You can work from anywhere; you are not chained to your personal physical stuff, and so on. All you have to do is make sure that your life in the cloud is also organized to the fullest extent possible.
You don’t want to be wasting your time looking for files, folders, notes, or information. If you have a good system, living life in the cloud can be miraculous for your personal productivity. You can read more here, why to move to the cloud?
5. Track how you spend time
We might be biased here at Spica when it comes to time tracking, having developed My Hours, the simplest and most useful time tracker, as well as our time and attendance tool, All Hours; but we have often seen what time tracking can do for the productivity of individuals and teams.
A good time tracker gently pushes you to be more productive, enables you to analyze how you spend your time, and on top of that, allows you to focus better on the more important tasks.
As the saying goes, you can only manage what you measure. By employing time tracking, you have a clear picture of how you spend your time, how much you work on different projects, and how much you really earned.
With accurate statistics you can optimize your time better. If you use a time tracker, you will also be more prone to consistently using other time management techniques.