Take a look at your to-do list. How does it make you feel? Empowered or stressed? You’re leaning more towards panic than peace, right? That’s totally natural. And I have just the thing to help – time management strategies.
But before we get into that, there’s something I need to tell you.
Lucky that you’re driven. Lucky that you’re determined.
You’re lucky because if you’re reading this, you’re the type of person that wants more out of life.
And that’s exciting!
Because as you continue to seek out new ideas and lessons, you will continue to make progress forward.
But one problem that you’re going to run into is how to manage all of those wonderful things. How to squeeze that extra design in, how to make time for that spin class.
It can be hard to get everything done.
Up for the challenge
To date, I’ve run three half marathons. Two last year and one this year.
The first one I ran was pretty much on a whim. Very unlike me. I like to plan and prepare for things as much as I can.
But I figured, hey this seems easy enough. I just have to run in a straight line for three hours and I’ll hit 13.1 miles? I’m in!
I had done a couple longer runs in the weeks prior, but nothing that long.
13 miles is… long.
It’s obviously not as long as a marathon, but it’s still pretty daunting.
Either way, I was excited and up for the challenge. Now, I didn’t sign up for an official half-marathon. I didn’t even practice navigating the route ahead of time.
My decision making process went like this:
I am here. At point A. Where is 13.1 miles away? My parents home. Perfect! That’s point B. That’s where I’ll run to.
The day arrived and it was time to run. I got my water and snacks ready, threw on some sunscreen, and started the trek.
It was July. In California. And it was hot.
And not just hot. Like scalding hot. Like when people speak in cliches about eggs cooking on sidewalks hot.
Either way, it was time to begin. It was afternoon and I was beginning a journey only loosely planned out a few days before.
The run started easily enough.
But as I ventured into new territories, I discovered that not only did I choose a path with little-to-no shade, I had also chosen a route that was nearly all uphill.
That’s not an exaggeration either.
If I wasn’t running on flat ground, I was running up a hill.
Hill after hill after hill after hill.
I did this run over a year ago and I still feel exhausted from those damn hills.
Jump ahead three or four hours, and a nearly infinite amount of hills, and I’ve done it. I’ve reached the finish line that I set for myself.
I’ve completed the half marathon!
It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t what I planned for. And it wasn’t really all that enjoyable.
But I finished it nonetheless.
And I found the process so rewarding that I’ve since run two more. Half marathon number two I planned, trained, and prepared for.
It was much easier. Not easy, but easier.
Half marathon number three was done recently and… was also done on a whim.
I know, I know.
I didn’t learn my lesson from the first one. But it was my birthday and I wanted to do something challenging. You can’t blame me, right?
I decided to run that one the night before. It was hard, but still not as brutal as that first half marathon.
Everything else falls apart
The thing about long distance running is that it is very similar to that feeling of overwhelm you’re experiencing right now.
When you’re running long distances you have to keep a lot in mind:
- Energy levels
- Posture and form
- Obstacles (cars, bikers, wild animals, etc.)
- Your self talk
And if you start to slip in one area, everything else falls apart.
Long distance running is just as much about your mental state as it is your physical.
If you start getting bored, you’re going to pick up the pace to try and get done faster. When that happens, you burn more energy which then requires more nourishment which then requires you to use your supplies faster than you had planned for.
Which could mean you fall apart miles short of your end goal.
It’s all connected.
Essential Time Management Strategies To Make Life More Effective
When you’re overwhelmed, you have a lot on your plate. You have a lot to do and a lot to achieve.
And just like when running, if you let one thing slip, the whole thing falls apart.
If you spend too much time at your desk, you’ll start to feel burnt out. If you start to feel burnt out, you’ll start to call in sick more often. And if you continue to do that, you’ll start to lose some of your responsibilities and things you care about.
Like running, it’s all connected.
So instead of letting overwhelm smother you, take advantage of the following time management strategies. Use them to your benefit to get more done.
To squeeze 25 hours of tasks into 24. To reduce some of that stress and fatigue and replace it with clarity and enthusiasm.
Time management strategies – Prioritize
The first time management strategy that you should try is prioritization.
In order to effectively prioritize your tasks, you first need to understand the difference between tasks that are urgent, important, both, or neither. This is sometimes referred to as the Eisenhower Matrix.
Go through your to-do list and rank whether tasks are urgent or non-urgent, and then important or not important.
This will help you better understand what needs to be worked on first.
Once you know what needs to be worked on (and what doesn’t), you can remove the excess from your plate and work on only what matters.
Time management strategies – Plan ahead
In order to get the right stuff done, you need to look into the future.
No, you don’t need to be a psychic.
You do need to have a sense of time though.
Because when you don’t properly plan ahead, things can slip by without your paying attention.
Maybe you have too many meetings lined up. Or maybe you have way too many tasks on your agenda for the day. Or worse yet, maybe you’re working on things that aren’t moving you forward.
So humor me.
Do this simple activity and actually plan out your day.
Sit down, take note of everything you need to do, and create a plan for your time.
I know you’re busy. I know you have a lot going on and don’t want to spend time planning out how to spend your other blocks of time.
But planning is important. So give it a try. Even when you’re busy.
Time management strategies – Make time for calm
One of the less obvious time management strategies is to make time for calm.
Now, if you have two days worth of work that somehow needs to be crammed into one, stillness is probably the last thing on your mind.
However, creating time for calm will make your work both more enjoyable and pleasant.
Stillness can be found in many forms, like:
- Taking a walk
- Eating a meal slowly
- Becoming aware of your surroundings
Spending some quiet time with yourself will allow you to regain focus and composure. In turn, you will be able to get back to your work with renewed energy.
Quiet the storm of your mind and resume your work with increased clarity and effectiveness.
Time management strategies – Don’t entertain distraction
You have a lot going on. You’re busy. You don’t need to burn through whatever excess time you have by scrolling through Instagram on your phone.
Look, taking breaks throughout the day isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s great!
But a problem arises when those breaks start becoming more and more frequent. Maybe you find yourself spending extra time on YouTube. Or reading irrelevant HuffPost articles.
These little distractions end up taking huge chunks out of your day!
So delete your most distracting apps. Remove the bookmarks for your favorite sites. Do whatever you can to eliminate distraction so that you can focus on the work in front of you.
Time management strategies – Learn to say no
Saying yes is fun. It opens you up to new people, places, and experiences. It also opens you up to doing other peoples work for them.
Knowing when to say yes and when to say no is critical to better managing your time. After all, your time is a limited resource.
Once you use it up, it’s gone.
So this is one time management strategy that you need to learn to adopt.
Say no to things that don’t align with your goals. It may feel uncomfortable at first. However, it will get easier with practice. Especially as you begin to notice the benefits of controlling your time once again.
And if it helps, also recognize that saying no is not a sign of weakness but rather one of strength.
It tells the other person that you are strong and know exactly what you are looking to do, and more importantly what you are not.
Time management strategies – Delegate
If you want something done right, do it yourself.
That is a fine expression that may work in some circumstances, but when it comes to managing your time it’s not all that helpful.
What you need instead is to delegate.
Now, if you’re looking for time management strategies for work, this is a great one. Because while you may want to handle everything on your own, trusting others with responsibility is a great way to free up your time to work on more important things.
So when going through your to-do list, check to see if there’s anything that could be delegated out to someone else.
If not, determine if there is someone that you could share the responsibility with.
Remember, time management is about working smarter, not necessarily harder. Delegate out tasks that aren’t important to you so that you can work on matters of importance.
Time management strategies – Get started
This is one of my favorite time management strategies because it forces you to take action. To get out of your seat and start moving towards your goals.
Because if you don’t start, you’ll never finish.
And not starting a task (aka procrastinating) is one of the best ways to waste your time.
So instead of procrastinating, begin each day by tackling your hardest tasks first. Pick your most daunting, stressful task, and start your day with it.
Start your day with it so that you use the bulk of your motivation on this task before you start burning it on the easy stuff.
Time management strategies – Be proactive, not reactive
Being reactive is reacting to the past. Being proactive is anticipating, planning for, and acting with the future in mind.
Acting reactively forces you to handle tasks once they’ve already become a problem.
Acting proactively allows you to take care of tasks before they get out of control.
If you find yourself constantly putting out fires, you are likely being reactive – tackling the problem once it’s already started causing issues.
In the future, try to be more proactive. Address problems ahead of time so that you can spend less time managing chaos and more time working towards your goals.
It’s an easy tip that when done right can benefit you greatly.
Time management strategies – Reduce clutter
When my desk is disorganized, I can’t focus. And when I can’t focus, I can’t get anything done.
It’s not until everything gets put into the correct place that I can start to get real work done.
And you’re probably the same way too.
So don’t let clutter waste your time. Follow the time management strategy of organization and stop wasting time on things that aren’t important.
It’s one of those time management strategies that seems obvious, but not enough people actually do.
Again, if clutter clutters your mind (like it does mine), you’re better off spending a few minutes organizing your workspace.
Personally, I keep my desk as minimal as possible. Opting for Google Docs instead of paper.
Time management strategies – Don’t do too much
One of the final time management strategies is also one of the most important – don’t do too much. In other words, don’t spread yourself too thin. Instead, focus on what matters most.
Recognize that being busy does not mean being productive.
There are normally countless tasks that you could be doing at any given moment – they won’t necessarily add value to your life or help you achieve your goals though.
Much of it is probably unimportant busy work.
So get your priorities in order and determine how your time should be best spent. Remove unimportant items from your to-do list and work towards something that matters.
Moving forward with your time management strategies
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, picture me running that first half marathon. Struggling to get up hill after hill after hill.
And remember how, like running, everything is a balance.
If you use your energy in one arena, you won’t have any left for the others. If you spend all your time on one project, you won’t have time left for the other ones. Know what is important to you and what needs to be worked on.
Utilize the time management strategies above and take action with increased clarity and productivity.
If you want a little extra help honing your time management skills and time management techniques, check out these posts:
- 10 Time Management Tips To Be More Effective With Your Time
- The Time Management Guide: What It Is And How To Do It Right
- Parkinson’s Law: The Little-Known Time Management Secret
If you want something a little more detailed, I also recommend you check out my goal setting course. It’s a full start-to-finish solution to helping you finally achieve your goals.
You can learn more about my course here.
Additional post references and inspirations: