Have you ever felt frazzled or out of control when trying to complete all your tasks in a day?
Or just feel like you’re always trying to catch up with your deadlines?
I get it. For a long time that was me. Almost every single day.
I would plan down to the hour, feel like I had my life together, and then become overwhelmed with my tasks and just throw in the towel.
This is a direct result of having poor time management.
It’s not that I had “too much on my plate” or that I was out of control of my results in life. I was just clueless in terms of how to manage my time properly. Which left me feeling stressed and frantic much of the time.
It’s amazing how simple time management can fast track us straight towards our goals.
And once you get proper time management tactics in place, it becomes easy to tackle the day.
One of the best feelings in the world is when you don’t have to question whether you’ll achieve everything you planned for a day because you’ve become a pro at scheduling and following through.
There’s no question that it’s nearly impossible to achieve any goal long-term without learning to manage your time properly.
Here we’ll cover how our perspective on time can affect our ability to plan and follow through.
Then, I’ll walk you through 19 simple time management tips you can use to start seeing the results you want — right now.
It’s very common for the average person to feel trapped by their schedules.
They feel to have every hour of the day pre-planned is to rob them of their daily freedom.
This is so the opposite of true.
The idea that scheduling is restrictive stems from the common notion that spontaneity is exciting.
As a culture, we’ve established this idea that acting spontaneously is liberating in some way.
Spontaneity has become synonymous with freedom.
Chances are if you feel this is true, you’ve been causing yourself to feel scatterbrained and have been practicing poor time management.
The reason for this is: To act spontaneously will give you pestering thoughts such as “what should I really be doing instead.”
You’ll be unable to enjoy your downtime since you’ll constantly be thinking about the other important tasks you neglected to follow through with.
Many of you are likely not even aware this is happening.
When was the last time you felt you “piled too much on” so to give yourself a break you binge-watch a series on Netflix? You’ll think, “I’m really stressed by my schedule, so this break will set me up to get my tasks done better, so I won’t feel as overwhelmed.” I guarantee you this “relaxation” time wasn’t time well spent. It only left you feeling more stressed afterward.
Another fascinating concept is that many of us who struggle with sticking to a schedule absolutely LOVE creating them.
As a society, we’ve become obsessed with our planners.
There are planning addicts who spend hours designing their weekly schedule with stickers, motivational phrases, drawings, etc.
I personally know many of these individuals because I was one.
And guess how often I followed through when I obsessed with the “pretty” part of planning?
Very, very rarely.
The reason for this is many gain short-term satisfaction in making their plans. It will give them a false sense of accomplishment and will make them feel they’ve already done the steps necessary to achieve their goals. Every motivational sticker they place on their weekly layout mentally makes them feel they’re one step closer to their desired result.
The reality is many people become obsessed with planning (and their planners) because they’re in avoidance mode.
They actually have a deep-rooted fear of sticking to a set schedule, so they procrastinate and don’t take action.
They spend too much time planning and not enough doing.
So even if you love planning your time, doesn’t mean you actually follow proper time management.
When we take the time to plan our daily activities it creates less stress and overwhelm.
By planning our work tasks, we are able to be ten times more productive when doing them.
When we plan our downtime, we can enjoy it more guilt-free, knowing it’s in the schedule.
Also, planning activities with friends gives you the ability to actually enjoy your time, rather than sitting around asking yourselves “what are we doing” for an hour.
There is nothing more freeing than having your time managed properly.
You can live life at ease knowing that all you have to do is stick to a pre-planned schedule, and your goals will get accomplished without much thought.
You’ll know when you reach this point because a huge weight will be lifted off your shoulders.
It will feel like you can legitimately accomplish anything.
So now that you have a better understanding of how we should view time management, I’m going to give you my top 19 best ways to manage your time that I currently use…
Just don’t become obsessed with them.
As we learned previously, using your planners as a creative outlet can be a way to avoid taking action.
My advice is to purchase a simple planner, create your no-frills schedule, and commit to following through. Then, and only then, will it be acceptable for you to design and decorate your planner as you wish.
My favorite planners that keep planning simple are:
Passion Planner – Gives you massive sheets to schedule tasks for every 30 minutes a day. Very focused on goal-setting. Has monthly check-ins to keep you focused.
Productivity Planner – Not a traditional calendar planner, but instead a simple daily planner that allows you to prioritize tasks in order of importance. It’s a beautiful, minimalistic planner that I use regularly to keep me focused on my day-to-day tasks.
By scheduling your breaks beforehand this will prevent overwhelm and burnout.
Which makes you ten times more productive during your work time.
As mentioned previously, you’ll also be able to better enjoy your downtime knowing you planned for it.
This downtime can include watching television, checking social media, or planning outings with friends.
Dedicate certain hours a day to one specific task.
This gives your schedule the simplicity it needs so you can work efficiently.
The key to doing this successfully is time blocking in all areas of life.
Ways that I’ve incorporating time blocking are setting aside specific times of the day/week to go running, cook dinner, write articles, check social media, etc.
For example, I’m always running between 7:00am-8:00am. And from 10:00am-2:00pm I’m always completing my most important task of the day. It’s simple.
By doing this, there will be no chatter in your brain as to “what you should currently be doing” since you’ll have blocked your time accordingly.
Set strict deadlines for every task you set out to accomplish.
And then stick to them.
When we write tasks on a to-do list but don’t set a deadline for them we’re not holding ourselves accountable.
Make a promise that when you schedule something to be completed by a specific time, you will get it done!
Brainstorm what times of the day you’re most productive.
If you’re like me it’s in the mornings.
Which means I schedule my hardest tasks for that time of the day.
If I put off these tasks till later, they wouldn’t get done.
So strategize where you place things in your schedule according to when you’re most likely to accomplish them.
Managing your time becomes infinitely easier when you create everyday rituals.
For example, I have the same morning ritual every day.
I wake up, go for my run, take a shower while listening to a podcast, meditate, then journal.
After a couple weeks of committing, doing this every day felt incredibly natural.
Because I created a ritual.
Don’t schedule the actions you’ll take, but the results you’ll produce.
For example, if I write “Run” in my planner I have no concept of what I specifically need to do.
But, if I write down “Run 5 Miles” I now have a clear result that I intend to produce in that time.
So be specific about the tasks you plan and have clarity about the results you’ll produce.
Proper planning starts the month before, the week before, and the night before.
You should have a clear plan for what you’ll accomplish any given day.
Make it a habit to practice proper goal setting. Check in with yourself monthly, weekly, and nightly to review what you want to accomplish for those times.
I normally plan every month down to the results I want, and every 2-weeks down to the hour.
Give yourself enough wiggle room to ensure you’ll complete the tasks you schedule.
Scheduling buffer time relieves some of the pressure because it gives you that little bit of extra time to accomplish your tasks.
How I do this, is I set a period of “buffer time” from 6:00pm-8:00pm every day.
If I feel I’m behind on some tasks, I’ll use this time to catch up. If I’m where I want to be, I’ll use this time to take a break.
Knowing I have this extra time scheduled makes me feel more at ease.
When you obsess over completing a task perfectly, you’re likely being super unproductive with your time.
In order to produce the results you want, you need to be okay with B- work.
I first learned this from Brooke Castillo at The Life Coach School and I was stunned.
Basically, I learned that in order to produce results at a high volume I needed to stop focusing on being perfect and instead focus on providing value in my work.
Being a perfectionist by nature, it took some effort for me to ditch my ways.
But since then, I’ve produced ten times more with my time than I used to.
Many people in your life will try and steal your time.
This is normal.
The key to success is having the willpower to say “Nope!”
After you create a schedule, you’ll need to guard it with all your might.
This will require you to prioritize your needs over others.
And that’s okay!
It’ll seem hard at first to turn down requests from friends or family members, but it gets easier over time.
Make it a practice of telling people your schedule so they know to make plans with you well in advance.
Many of us feel more comfortable in passive learning mode.
This is where we’re not taking action – but learning what we need to do to take action.
For example, reading this article is a form of passive learning. ?
While passive learning is necessary, don’t get stuck in this stage.
Pair your passive learning time with other menial tasks of the day.
For instance, I suggest reading books, checking out articles, or listening to podcasts while you’re eating breakfast, showering, working out, etc.
This helps me to keep up with my passive learning tasks, while still producing massive actions.
In this day and age, there’s an unbelievable amount of ways we can waste our time.
Even just having social media at our fingertips can take away hours of productivity a day!
What I recommend is every so often keeping a time journal to examine how you spend your hours in a day.
A while back, I knew I’d been spending more time than I wanted to checking social media.
When I kept a time journal for a week, I discovered I spent hours that week checking social when I should’ve been working on other tasks!
Don’t give yourself 4-hours to complete a task that you could realistically finish in 2-hours.
Many of us will tack on extra hours to help ensure they’ll complete the task.
Much of the time, this just causes people to further procrastinate since they have more time.
By giving yourself less time to produce more, you’re adjusting your body to be more productive in a smaller amount of time.
Make it a habit of batching tasks together so you can focus on one subject at a time.
For example, I write my blog posts on Mondays and Tuesdays every week. No matter what I have going on, this is what I’ll be doing.
This frees up my mind to focus on other tasks.
Realistically consider what on your to-do list you could outsource to someone else.
Many of us stubbornly insist on doing everything ourselves, but the reality is that doing this could cause our productivity to suffer.
Consider outsourcing menial tasks that take up your time to someone else.
You’ll produce much more into the world this way.
It’s likely that your to-do list will be massive which can leave you feeling overwhelmed.
You’ll need to learn how to prioritize tasks that are most important.
This can be the difference between accomplishing your goals or spiraling into overwhelm.
Make it a practice to look at your schedule on the hour, every hour.
By doing this you’re allowing your brain to remain focused on the tasks at hand.
I highly recommend Google Calendar for this.
I can access it from my phone and computer.
Instead of checking social media when I wake up, I go straight to my plan for the day.
The most important tip is to follow through with your schedule.
While you may have the desire to follow through with your schedule, it’s not enough.
You need to have the commitment. Which means you’ll have the willpower to follow through with plans even when you don’t feel like it.
This is the secret to success.
If the idea of scheduling your time (and following through) still seems intimidating to you, just know that this is perfectly normal.
Your brain will feel more comfortable in the state of being your currently in. It’s normal to feel a bit of resistance when you first start following through with plans.
Just keep in mind that after some time, it’ll begin to feel natural to follow a schedule.
And it will give you a sense of freedom you never knew was possible.
Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified health coach for women who believes that eating healthy should feel simple and sustainable. I teach hundreds of high-performing women to change their eating habits without the overwhelm. Want to change your eating habits in a way that is aligned with your needs, preferences, and goals? You’re in the right place. You can read my full story here.