How effective is your time management?

The 10 Best Time Management Strategies

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The 10 Best Time Management Strategies

Are you a new blogger? Or freelancer? Maybe you are an employee that has been working from home? You may need some new time management strategies to be your most productive. Time management is a set of skills and mindset which may take time to develop. With these 10 strategies you will be a time management master in no time.

Working from home comes with a new set of challenges, and distractions that make conquering time management skills a real challenge. This can be especially true when you have decided to build your own business and now have no one to be accountable to but yourself.

There are many obstacles a person faces throughout the day. Learning how to deal with these obstacles so they don’t become serious time-wasters is imperative. After all, there are only so many hours in a day and we want to use them to our advantage.

If time management is something you struggle with continue reading. I have 10 effective tips and strategies that will help you master time management.

1. Organize To Save Time

How much time do you think you spend every day looking for something?

Whether you are looking for your notebook, a pen, the charger for your phone or laptop, your keys, the sticky note you wrote that very important thing that you didn’t want to forget on; except now you don’t remember what it was you needed to remember or where the sticky note is, you are wasting valuable time by not being organized.

How about the files on your computer? Are they organized?

example of files on a pc desktop
Organization is a valuable time management strategy

Being organized is the first strategy for effective time management.

Organize your office so everything has a place and is put away. Keep things that you use all the time close by and handy. Things like notebooks, pens, and chargers. By keeping your workspace clean and organized you eliminate the time spent searching for things you know you are going to need.

Also, clear off your desk every day when you are finished. This has the same effect as making your bed in the morning when you get up. Walking into a clutter-free workspace first thing in the morning has a positive effect on your mental well-being versus walking into a mess. You may not think so but it does.

Also, clean up those computer files. Have all your files organized and labeled so they are easy to find.

Now that you have mastered the mess, do you know what’s next?

2. Planning Your Time

Planning out your day is an important time management strategy you need to use. Not just for productivity, but also to keep your business moving in the right direction. But since this post is about time management we will stick to that.

There’s an endless list of possibilities when it comes to planning. How you decide to do it is completely up to you. You can use online planners or paper. It doesn’t matter as long as you find what works best for you. I prefer to write things down so that’s what I do.

I start with a yearly planner.

Things like holiday celebrations, birthdays, and vacations can all be scheduled well in advance. Most of us know what holidays we celebrate and when we celebrate them. We know when the birthdays are. And maybe it’s just me but I have already started thinking of when I am booking holidays for summer 2022.

So, for example, if you know you travel for Christmas, and you need 4 days, schedule that now. I don’t mean Christmas 2021, although if you haven’t made plans for that yet now would be a good time. I’m talking Christmas 2022. You need to schedule this, especially if you don’t want to be working for those 4 days so you can clear your calendar. Now, of course, things happen and plans change, that’s ok. The important thing is to have everything work-related done when the time comes so you don’t have to stress about it.

Do the same for birthdays, vacations, anniversaries, etc. Schedule them now so you can get an idea of what’s ahead.

You don’t want to do what I did recently. My husband and I’s anniversary is coming up in a couple of weeks. Last week I thought to myself “I should take the day off.” It happens to fall on a Wednesday. So I look at my schedule only to discover that I already have a full day booked with clients. Had I thought of this much sooner it would have been easy to book the day off. Then I could have stayed home and worked on my blog instead of going to work… I mean, spent the day with my husband.

Our anniversary falls on the same day every year so there is no excuse to not book time off if that is what we want to do.

By knowing when these dates are going to happen we can effectively manage our time to make sure business doesn’t have to overlap with personal events thus also creating a good work-life balance.

I caught the first fish 3 trips in a row
Work-life balance

Next, plan your month.

This is where I plan blog posts, videos, emails, manage online clients, etc. Anything that I need to do for my business. You can do this month by month or work several months ahead. Again it helps you see exactly what needs to be done and to work around those other dates we talked about like birthdays and anniversaries.

For example, I publish a blog post every Monday. By planning out my month in advance I can see that there are 5 Mondays in November, and again in January. I can plan topics, outlines, emails, and anything else to do with my blog long before the time comes. Even better, when you plan a month at a time you can do a content sprint as Meera Kothand explains in her awesome post. This will open up more time to deal with other aspects of your business like course creation or helping your online clients.

In the process of planning out your month, you will get a good idea of what your week will look like as well.

Now that we have covered the year, months, and weeks let’s look at where most of the time management struggles occur.

Your daily planner.

I’m not going to lie, this is a daily struggle for me. I’m not sure why, but I keep working on it. One day I will have a breakthrough and I will say to myself “about time.” That’s not really what I will say but I’m keeping it G-rated.

This is one area that your time management can suffer. I have employed a few strategies to help keep me on track. And we will talk more about these.

The first strategy I use is a custom to-do list that I put together for myself. It’s not fancy but it helps. It has 6 columns on it.

  • Time: refers to the time of day I plan to do this task.
  • Amount: refers to the amount of time I will spend on the task so 1 hour, 15 minutes, etc.
  • Task: prioritize tasks with the most urgent getting done first.
  • Did/Didn’t: did it get done or didn’t it.
  • Why not?: if the task didn’t get done what was the reason.
  • Was it avoidable?: if the task didn’t get finished was the reason avoidable. For example, last Wednesday my internet was down so I didn’t get any blogging stuff done. This was not something I could avoid. Yesterday I didn’t do any blog commenting because I was reading a new book. Completely avoidable, no excuse, I should have been working on blogging stuff.

As you can see, this type of strategy gives you a clear picture of why tasks get finished or don’t. Is it because you aren’t focused or are easily distracted? When you can see what the problem is it allows you to take steps to fix it.

This can go a long way to improving your time management skills. When you can focus on the task at hand without getting distracted you accomplish more work in less time. This means more time to focus on other areas of your business or personal life.

It is important to also understand that this isn’t only a time management issue, but also a mindset issue. Why are you allowing yourself to be distracted or pulled away from your work? I’m sitting with this one and maybe one day will have my issues all figured out.

If you want to know what it looks like to have a positive mindset that will help you overcome challenges check out Blogging From Paradise. Ryan writes extensively about mindset and overcoming challenges.

In the meantime, try to eliminate distractions.

Are you sure it’s a time management issue?

3. Handle Time-Wasters

Devices, social media, emails, surprise visitors, and anything else that pulls your attention away from the task at hand needs to be managed somehow. An effective time management strategy is not succumbing to the irresistible temptation of distractions.

One way to do this is to schedule. I schedule 15-30 minutes every day for checking emails and social media. That means it is put on my to-do list. When time is up, it’s up. I move on to the next task. If you have issues stepping away from this particular task, do it last. Since I also check social media and emails throughout the day, when I am waiting for kids, or while making meals, I will use this allotted time for bulk scheduling content or checking up on analytics.

People are spending 145 minutes a day on social media. What are your time management strategies to ensure your time there is productive? Click To Tweet

I also turn off all notifications for all apps on all devices, including my laptop. Sorry folks, but that includes all the websites that have the pop-up asking if you would like to receive notifications from said website. The answer is always NO. These notifications are very distracting and a huge waste of time. I generally have the ringer turned off on my cell phone as well. If I don’t answer, leave a message.

Another problem I tend to run into is unsolicited visitors. I am also going to include my kids and spouse in this category since my kid just barged into the office for the umpteenth time this morning. Parents working from home can relate. I’m not sure what people think you do when you tell them you work from home, but I’m pretty sure they don’t believe you are working. Or maybe because you are working from home what you do isn’t important. I don’t know.

If it is someone stopping by to visit, or sell you something, ignore them. That’s what I do. When they live in your house with you, well that’s a bit more tricky but there are still steps you can take.

4. Family Time Management

This particular time management strategy is geared towards parents that work from home and have kids. Kids, and sometimes even partners can be very needy. Mine also have a hard time respecting boundaries. To deal with this I schedule when I need to.

While I have been having issues lately focusing, staying on task, and generally getting my blogging stuff done there is a flip side. Some days I sit down at my computer and hours can pass by while I happily work away on my blog, effectively ignoring everyone else in the house if they let me. But they don’t.

To help make sure the needs of the family are being met, and that I am also taking a much-needed break whether I feel I need to or not I set a timer to complete tasks. This serves 2 purposes. One, it helps keep you focused as you need to get the task done in the allotted time. Two, it forces you to take a break so you can deal with family issues. Answer questions, feed kids, take out dogs, do laundry, and whatever else has come up. I set my timer for an hour at a time. When that hour is up you can come to talk to me.

stopwatch
Set a timer to help keep you focused on a task.

If everyone in the house knows that you will be available for 15-30 minutes once your hour of work is up they learn that they can wait. Now, I understand that this may not work if you have young children, heck it doesn’t even always work for my teenagers or my husband so good luck.

When it does work though, let me tell you, work gets done!

You also want to take this one step further and schedule date nights and family time. When ensuring the family’s needs are being met you will get more undisturbed work time and achieve a healthier work-life balance.

And keep working on establishing those boundaries.

5. Having Healthy Boundaries Creates Better Time Management

When everyone is respecting boundaries you avoid unnecessary interruptions. It ties in with what I said in #3 and #4.

What do healthy boundaries that create better time management strategies look like?

Some examples include:

  • not entertaining unsolicited guests during your workday
  • not answering personal phone calls during “work” hours
  • setting clear expectations for yourself and family members
  • taking scheduled breaks
  • make sure you are eating, sleeping, and drinking plenty of water

As I said, it ties in with handling time-wasters and family time management. Setting boundaries takes it one step further, giving yourself and others concrete “rules” that you expect to be followed by them and yourself.

One I have been working on is “if the office door is closed, STAY OUT!” It usually means I am writing. Please, don’t interrupt me. I will come out when my hour is up. For some reason, we are having a really hard time with this one.

Healthy boundaries are important in all areas of our lives. I hope you can see the importance of them for creating effective time management.

6. Multitasking Does Not Save Time

No matter how good you think you are at it. Focusing on one task at a time will always be more productive. It also helps you stay super focused which reduces distractions. Reducing distractions makes for better time management.

When you jump between multiple tasks at once without actually completing anything you are wide open to being susceptible to distractions. Stay focused. You will accomplish more in the long run.

When you have multiple tasks to do prioritize.

7. Prioritizing And Delegating Will Save Time

Doing the most important tasks first while you are fresh and focused means you are less likely to succumb to distractions. As you go through the day the ability to concentrate may diminish making it easier to fall for distractions.

Focus on the most important tasks that move your business forward first. If it isn't essential in moving your business forward it can wait. Click To Tweet

Or, you may be able to delegate the task to someone else. For example, you may delegate answering general email enquires to an assistant. You may also hire someone to do the work that you don’t particularly enjoy. If writing emails for your list isn’t your thing, hire a freelancer to do it.

You can also delegate certain chores to other members of the household. Yes, you can do this! It doesn’t matter how the towels get folded. As much as you think it does. The only things that matter are:

  1. it gets done
  2. you didn’t have to do it

Besides you are doing laundry again in a couple days anyways.

Delegating tasks may be difficult, especially if you are someone that likes to be in control of all things. Freeing up time by delegating appropriate tasks is an essential time management skill that everyone needs to learn. Not only is it a savvy time management practice, but it will also reduce your stress levels. (except maybe about the towels 😬)

If you are not able to delegate tasks then you need to automate and optimize where you can.

8. Automate And Optimize To Minimize The Time Spent On Tasks

If you want to learn how to automate and optimize your workload, just take notes from Pamela Wilson. She takes time management to the next level. She authored this great post that talks about automation and optimization. Also, another one she wrote for copyblogger.com may give you some great tips as well. Make sure you have a pen and paper handy to take notes!

9. What Time Of Day Are You At Your Best?

In January 2021, I started doing virtual fitness challenges. I then decided to do a 75 Hard challenge which I wrote about in this blog post here. This got me into the habit of getting up in the morning and doing cardio before I left for work.

Well, last week as I am putting miles on our spin bike I was thinking to myself, “man it sure is nice and quiet, everyone still in bed, no one bugging me.” That’s when the light bulb went off.

Why the heck was I downstairs working out in peace instead of in the office working on my business while the house was quiet and peaceful?

DUH!?!

Want to talk about the ultimate distraction eliminator? Work when everyone else is sleeping. You won’t find a better time management strategy than that!

I don’t care if you come to talk to me while I am working out, it beats you coming to talk to me while I am writing blog posts. Now I get up early and go work in the office and save the workouts for later.

My point, work when it works best for you.

Morning, night, when kids are napping, or any other time that works best for you. It doesn’t matter, just get it done.

Sunrise over Long Lake Alberta
Sunrise

10. Procrastination Is A Waste Of Time

Procrastination is a mindset issue that can’t be ignored. It is impossible to have effective time management strategies if you have a habit of procrastinating. You need to deal with it. Start by reading this blog post I wrote about it. It is a serious issue that I have also suffered.

Do not let this be the reason you don’t move forward in your business or live your best life. Find help to work through this issue if you need to. Hiring a mentor may be worth it. Do whatever is necessary to get you over this hurdle.

Final Words

I have struggled, do struggle with time management. I use or have used, or should be using every single one of these time management strategies.

Learning effective time management is a skill that requires a commitment from you; also a commitment from everyone around you. Employ different strategies until you find what works best for you. Whether working at different times during the day or setting clear boundaries, being consistent will help you hone your time management skills.

Some of these strategies may take a while to put into place. Automating tasks may need to be tweaked a few times before you feel it works well for you. Delegating may be another strategy that takes some time to work effectively. Again, consistency is key to successfully making use of such strategies.

Your mindset will also play a role in overcoming time management concerns. Be honest with yourself. Uncover the true reason/s time management is a challenge.

Once you have acquired effective time management strategies you can sit back and enjoy spending that extra time doing what you love most.

Please Leave a Comment

picture of SharlaAnn Matyjanka

Is time management a struggle for you?

What time management strategies have you tried?

Which ones work best or not at all?

What is one thing you wish you had more time for?

I would love to hear what your thoughts are on this topic.

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2 thoughts on “The 10 Best Time Management Strategies”

  1. Hi Sharla Ann, interesting in your time planning. I do the day first, then the month, and then the year. You do it the other way 🙂 I work best in the early mornings and by 5 pm I’m totally done, sometimes even at 3 pm. I do my best work in the morning between having to be creative and writing it’s my sweet spot.
    Some days I struggle as I have to plan out so much content for clients and then work through Google Analytics to track everything.
    I wish I had more time to travel even if locally.

    1. Lisa, I am definitely a morning person as well. Unfortunately, juggling work, kids and now blogging I don’t have nearly enough morning so I am learning to adapt. Somewhat.
      When you are doing your planning do you follow the same schedule everyday? For example do you always write at specific times, do client stuff at specific times, specific meeting times etc. or does it change day to day?
      SharlaAnn Matyjanka recently posted…Building Your Email List-Setting Up AWeberMy Profile

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