If you’ve been listening to this podcast for a while, you know that time management is my passion. Well, today I’m going to explore seven transformative strategies that can empower you not merely to navigate but truly master the intricate dance of time.
Let’s face it – in today’s relentlessly fast-paced world, where time often feels like a resource slipping through our fingers like grains of sand, the art of effective time management is not just an option; it has evolved into an indispensable necessity.
In an era where we’re perpetually bombarded with demands, distractions, and an ever-expanding to-do list, the concept of “time management” takes on profound significance. It’s no longer a mere skill but a life philosophy—an approach that can make the difference between barely keeping up and thriving in the face of constant change.
The urgency of time management goes beyond mere productivity. It touches every aspect of our lives, from personal growth and professional success to our overall well-being and the quality of our relationships.
It’s about more than getting things done; it’s about designing a life that aligns with your values, aspirations, and the authentic version of yourself.
What I’m going to share is not a quick-fix solution; it’s a comprehensive exploration of time management principles that, when adopted, can lead to a valuable transformation in the way you navigate and utilize time. Each of the seven strategies I will share has the potential to be a game-changer, bringing you one step closer to the balance you deserve.
I want you to imagine a life where time becomes a supportive ally, not a relentless adversary. Imagine achieving your goals with grace, having the space to nurture your passions, and the serenity to savor life’s simple pleasures.
The strategies I’m going to share are more than just techniques for getting things done; they’re principles that can help you shape a life that aligns with your values and aspirations.
So, let’s embark on this journey together and discover how to make time work for you, not against you. Each of the seven strategies we’ll explore can have a significant impact on how you manage your time and ultimately lead to a more balanced, productive, and fulfilling life. Let’s get started.
This week I’m going to discuss the seven time management strategies that will help you take control of your day and an example of these strategies put together in the life of an accountant mom.
Strategy #1 – Understand that “busy” is a thought
Let’s kick things off with a simple yet profound idea: Time itself can’t be controlled; it just marches on, ticking away, no matter what we do. But here’s the kicker – what we can control is how we think about time. And guess what? Our thoughts about time have a direct impact on our feelings, which, in turn, influence what we actually do—or don’t do.
So, let’s talk about the idea of being “busy.” We throw that word around all the time, don’t we? We say, “I’m so busy,” as if busyness is an unavoidable fact of life. But what if I told you that “busy” is more of a thought than a fact? It’s a thought that can either stress us out or set us free.
When we constantly tell ourselves, “I’m so busy,” our minds get cluttered with negativity and a sense of rush. Even simple tasks start feeling like giant mountains to climb. It’s like wearing glasses that make everything look chaotic and overwhelming.
Now, flip the script. Replace “I’m so busy” with “I have plenty of time.” Suddenly, you feel more relaxed and in control. The same tasks that used to stress you out now seem doable, even easy.
The magic here is in realizing that you can choose your thoughts about time. You can choose thoughts that make you feel like you’ve got this, that you’re in control, and that there’s plenty of time to get things done. This choice can have a huge impact on your productivity, your mood, and your overall life satisfaction.
As we dive into the rest of the strategies, remember this: time is neutral; it’s our thoughts that give it meaning.
Strategy #2 – Take a look at how you’re spending your time
Alright, strategy number two is all about taking a closer look at how you’re spending your time. Think of this as turning on the headlights in the darkness of your daily routine. Before we start optimizing anything, we need to see where we are.
Imagine you’re on a road trip. You wouldn’t just hit the road blindly, right? You’d check the map, see where you’re going, and figure out the best route. The same goes for your journey to being more productive.
So, how do we do this? By doing a “time audit.” It’s like taking a magnifying glass to your day, examining it closely, and finding those hidden gems of insight.
Think of it this way: just like you’d manage your finances by tracking your spending and budgeting, you can do the same with your time. After all, time is a precious resource, maybe even more precious than money.
So, here’s what you do over a 3 day period: You start by looking at how you spend every half hour of your day, from the moment you wake up to when you hit the pillow at night. Write it down or use a handy app – whatever works best for you.
At first, this might feel a bit tedious. You might even wonder, “Is this really necessary?” Trust me, it is. This process is like turning on a bright light in a dim room. It might reveal some surprises, and you’ll see where your time really goes.
You’ll discover patterns – moments when you’re super productive and others when you’re not. You’ll spot those sneaky time-wasting habits that you didn’t even realize were eating up your day. It’s a bit like cleaning out your closet – you find stuff you forgot you had, and some things you realize you don’t need anymore.
The real magic here is in gaining awareness. You’re shining a light on your daily habits and routines, and that’s the first step towards taking back control of your schedule. It’s like saying, “Hey, I see what’s happening here, and I can do something about it.”
Just remember that this isn’t about judging yourself or feeling guilty about how you spend your time. It’s about becoming the CEO of your own time, making informed decisions, and using your hours in a way that aligns with your goals and priorities.
Strategy #3 – Write Everything Down
Alright, let’s talk about strategy number three, and it’s a game-changer. Have you ever felt like there’s a tornado of tasks swirling around in your head, and you’re just trying to keep everything from flying away? We’ve all been there, and that’s where this strategy comes in.
I’m talking about the mighty to-do download. But not just any to-do download—this is your secret weapon for regaining control over your time and reducing that overwhelming feeling.
Imagine your brain is like a computer with a bunch of tabs open, all running at once. You’ve got work projects, personal errands, that closet that’s been begging to be cleaned out, and a list of other things that you don’t want to forget. It’s a mental circus, and it can be exhausting.
So, what do you do? You grab a piece of paper, and you start writing. Write down everything that pops into your mind, whether it’s a work-related task, a personal errand, a home project, or even that brilliant book idea you had while in the shower. Just write it all down.
At first, it might feel like you’re filling up the page with an endless list of things. That’s okay. Keep going. As you write, you’ll likely remember more things you need to do. It’s like unclogging a mental drain. All those thoughts and tasks are no longer swirling around in your head; they’re on paper.
And here’s where the magic happens. Your mind can now breathe a sigh of relief because it doesn’t have to work overtime to remember everything. It’s all there on paper, safely recorded. Your brain can finally focus more clearly because it’s not trying to juggle a million mental sticky notes.
Now, some of you might look at that list and think, “Whoa, this is overwhelming!” That’s okay too. Remember, the goal isn’t to stress you out. It’s about getting everything out of your head and onto paper.
Think of it like cleaning out your closet. You take everything out first, and it looks like chaos. But then, one by one, you put things back in an organized way. This to-do download is like that messy pile of clothes on the bed, waiting to be sorted and put away.
So, in this strategy, I’m not just talking about work tasks. It’s everything—personal stuff, errands, projects, goals, and even those things that have been lurking in the back of your mind for ages.
Remember, it’s about freeing up mental space and reducing that feeling of being overwhelmed. Your to-do download is your ally in this journey towards better time management and a more peaceful mind.
Strategy #4 – Set goals and focus on the most important thing first
Alright, strategy number four is like the secret weapon of time management. It’s all about setting goals and making sure you focus on the most important things first.
So, here’s the deal: When it comes to managing your time and tasks, it’s not just about doing things quickly or reacting to what’s urgent. It’s about doing the things that really matter, the things that will have the biggest impact on your life and your goals.
Imagine you have a to-do download, and it’s filled with all sorts of tasks. Some are urgent, like that report due tomorrow, and some are less urgent but super important, like working on a big project that’s been on your mind for a while.
Now, what most people do is tackle the urgent stuff first. It makes sense, right? You want to meet those deadlines. But here’s the catch – your brain is wired to think that everything is urgent, and if you’re constantly reacting to what’s urgent, you’ll never have the time and energy for what’s truly important.
That’s where this strategy comes in. You’re going to flip the script. Instead of just looking at urgency, we’re going to focus on importance or impact.
Imagine your to-do download as a buffet, and you’re filling your plate. The most important items are like the juicy steaks and fresh salads. The urgent stuff is more like the dessert – it’s tempting, but if you start with dessert, you might not have room for the good stuff.
So, you’ll want to organize your to-do download by listing the most important things at the top. These are the tasks that, when you accomplish them, will move you closer to your goals and have a lasting impact.
Now, here’s the key: Once you’ve got that list in order, take it a step further and transfer those tasks onto your calendar. Yes, your calendar – that digital or physical space where you plan your days. I prefer a physical, paper calendar.
This might seem like a bit of work, and your first reaction might be, “I don’t want to schedule my whole life!” But here’s the thing – this is where effective productivity lies.
Before you start scheduling your to-do download, start by scheduling your free time first. It’s not just about work; it’s about balance. So, mark down those slots for family time, relaxation, hobbies, or just chilling.
Then, look at your to-do download and start slotting those important, high impact tasks into your calendar. You’re not just saying you’ll do them sometime this week; you’re saying, “At this specific time, I’m going to tackle that big project, no excuses.”
Now, here’s where it gets fun. Once the to-do download is calendered, you can rip up it up. Seriously, throw it away. Why? Because to-do lists can be overwhelming for your brain. When everything is on your calendar, you don’t have to constantly worry about what you should do next.
Some of you might be thinking, “But won’t that be too rigid?” I promise you, it’s actually freeing. When you plan your time deliberately, you’ll find you have more free time because you’re not constantly stressed and overwhelmed. You’re getting more done in less time.
So, in a nutshell, this strategy is all about focusing on what’s important, not just what’s urgent, and then scheduling it into your day. It’s like having a roadmap for your time, and it’s a game-changer for efficiency and achieving your goals.
Remember, it’s about being intentional with your time and making sure you’re spending it on the things that truly matter.
Strategy #5 – Manage your projects effectively
Strategy number five tackles a common concern: “What if I don’t know how long a task will take?” It’s a valid question, and I’m here to clear up the uncertainty.
You see, the key here is to stop guessing and start allocating a specific time frame to each task. Yes, you heard that right—putting a timer on your tasks can work wonders for your productivity.
I’ve already discussed something called Parkinson’s Law on the podcast, but if you’re not familiar with this term, don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it sounds, promise. Parkinson’s Law basically says that work expands to fill the time available. In other words, if you give a task two hours, it’ll take two hours. If you give it one hour, it’ll miraculously get done in one hour.
Now, let’s think about this for a moment. How many times have you given yourself a whole day to complete a task, only to find yourself rushing to finish it at the last minute? It’s a classic case of work expanding to fill the time you’ve allocated.
So, what do we do? We flip the script. Instead of leaving tasks open-ended, we assign them specific time slots. This creates a sense of focus. When you know you have, say, 30 minutes to finish something, you’re less likely to get distracted by email, social media, or that endless scroll of cat videos.
Now, I get it. Some of you might be thinking, “But what if I need more time?” Here’s the beauty of this approach. If you allocate too much time and you finish early, guess what? You’ve just gifted yourself some free time! And who doesn’t love a little extra free time?
On the flip side, if you find you consistently need more time for a task, it might be a sign that you need to reassess your approach. Are there distractions you can eliminate? Can you break the task into smaller, more manageable chunks?
The key here is to be the boss of your time, not the other way around. When you allocate specific time slots for your tasks, you’re taking control. You’re saying, “I decide how long this will take, not the task itself.”
Remember that it’s all about enhancing your focus and overall productivity.
Strategy #6 – Give your tasks the focus they deserve
Okay, strategy number six is a game-changer. This is all about the concept of “focus time,” and let me tell you, it’s like having another secret weapon for achieving remarkable results.
Now, let’s start by acknowledging something we all know deep down but often ignore – our ability to focus is like a superpower. When we’re fully engaged and free from distractions, we can accomplish incredible things. So, let’s explore how to tap into this superpower, intentionally.
Imagine this: you’re working on an important project, and you need to make serious progress. You can’t afford to be constantly interrupted by emails, social media notifications, or random distractions. That’s where “focus time” comes into play.
“Focus time” is like your superhero cape for productivity. It’s a dedicated period when you shut out all distractions and immerse yourself in your work. No buzzing phones, no email notifications, no random web surfing – just you and the task at hand.
Now, here’s the thing – our modern world is a playground of shiny objects and distractions. Our devices are constantly vying for our attention, and it’s so easy to get pulled away from what really matters. But during “focus time,” you take back control.
Imagine you’re in a room with a sign on the door that says, “Do Not Disturb – Genius at Work.” Your focus is like a laser beam, and you’re channeling all your energy into what you’re doing.
During this time, you’re not just working; you’re performing at your best. You’re tackling intricate projects, strategizing for the week ahead, or diving into creative endeavors with unmatched intensity.
Now, you might be wondering, “How do I start this ‘focus time’ thing?” Well, it begins by setting aside blocks of time in your schedule. It could be an hour, two hours, or even just 30 minutes – whatever works for you.
Next, create a distraction-free zone. Silence your phone, turn off notifications, and close any irrelevant tabs or apps. It’s like clearing the stage for your performance.
As you immerse yourself in your work, you’ll start to notice something amazing. You’re not working harder; you’re working smarter. You’re more efficient, more creative, and more in control of your tasks.
But here’s the thing – it’s not just about work projects. “Focus time” can apply to any aspect of your life. Whether you’re studying for an exam, working on a personal project, or even just reflecting on your goals, these concentrated blocks of time can be a game-changer.
Remember, it’s about harnessing the power of focus and using it to achieve remarkable outcomes. It’s like turning on your productivity turbocharge.
Strategy #7 – Reevaluate at the end of the week
This final strategy is all about stepping back and taking a look at the bigger picture because time management isn’t just about checking off tasks; it’s about living a life that’s deliberate and filled with intention.
Now, let’s start by addressing something that many of us have fallen victim to at some point – the allure of spontaneity. We often hear people say, “I don’t want to plan everything; I want to be spontaneous!” It sounds liberating, doesn’t it? Just going with the flow, no plans, no schedules.
But here’s the truth – if you’re always going with the flow and doing what feels good in the moment, you might find yourself in one of three places: on your couch, indulging in snacks and TV, or simply avoiding the important stuff. It’s the path to endless procrastination.
You see, anyone can start something, but how many of us actually finish what we start? Think about all those half-finished projects or abandoned goals. They often come with a list of excuses – “I got too busy,” “Something more important came up,” or “I just didn’t feel like it.”
Now, imagine a life where you don’t need those excuses. A life where you say you’ll do something, and you actually do it. That’s the power of planning and intention.
When you plan your time, you’re essentially making a contract with yourself. You’re saying, “This is what I’m going to do, and I’m going to stick to it.” It’s not about restricting yourself; it’s about freeing yourself from the chaos of constant indecision.
Think about the goals you have, the things you value, and the accomplishments you want to achieve. Those don’t happen by chance; they happen because you plan for them. You set intentions, and you follow through.
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to plan every minute of your life. No one’s asking you to become a robot. It’s about striking a balance. You plan for your work, your responsibilities, and your goals, but you also plan for your free time, your relaxation, and your adventures.
The truth is that time management isn’t just about getting better at ticking off tasks. It’s about living a life that’s filled with purpose and intention. It’s about taking the reins of your time and making conscious choices.
Imagine a life where you don’t need excuses for unfinished business. A life where you say you’ll do something, and you actually do it. That’s the magic of planning and intention.
You don’t have to schedule every minute of your life – that’s not the goal. It’s about finding balance. You plan for work, responsibilities, and goals, but you also plan for relaxation, free time, and adventures.
This is about how you spend your time and being the boss of your schedule.
Example of the seven strategies in action
Now let me share an example of a coaching client who put the seven strategies into action. She’s an accountant mom with two energetic kids. Her days used to feel like a whirlwind of chaos. Between work, family commitments, and trying to find some “me-time,” she often felt like time was slipping through her fingers. But all that changed when she decided to embrace the seven time management strategies.
Strategy #1 – Understand that Busy is a Thought:
Her journey began with a simple shift in mindset. She realized that being “busy” was just a thought, and it was within her power to change that thought. Instead of constantly telling herself how busy she was, she started saying, “I have plenty of time.” This simple shift in thinking helped her feel more relaxed, in control, and focused.
Strategy #2 – Take a look at how you’re spending your time:
To gain a deeper understanding of her time, she did a time audit. She tracked her activities for a week, from the moment she woke up to when she went to bed. She was surprised to discover that she had more control over her time than she thought. It wasn’t about being busy; it was about how she chose to spend her time.
Strategy #3 – Write Everything Down:
One of the biggest sources of stress for this client was the never-ending mental to-do list. So, she started writing everything down. Work projects, errands, school activities – everything went on paper. It was liberating to see her thoughts externalized, and it allowed her to think more clearly.
Strategy #4 – Set goals and focus on the most important thing first:
With her to-do download in hand, she learned the power of prioritization. She realized that not everything was equally important or urgent. She began to focus on the most critical tasks first, which prevented last-minute scrambles and gave her a sense of control over her day.
Strategy #5 – Manage your projects effectively:
She had a habit of underestimating how long tasks would take. But she learned to allocate specific timeframes for each task and stuck to them. She even used a bit of psychology, telling herself that if she didn’t finish within the allotted time, she’d have to work during her precious free time. It motivated her to work more efficiently.
Strategy #6 – Give your tasks the focus they deserve:
“Focus time” became her secret weapon. She set aside dedicated blocks of time without distractions to tackle her most challenging work. No phone notifications, no distractions – just pure focus. These periods of intense concentration helped her accomplish complex tasks with ease.
Strategy #7 – Reevaluate at the end of the week:
At the end of each week, she took a moment to reflect on her progress. She didn’t just aim to be a little bit better at her tasks; she aimed for a life filled with intention. It wasn’t about being robotic or overly planned; it was about making conscious choices about how she spent her time.
And so, this client’s life transformed. She no longer felt overwhelmed by busyness. Instead, she felt in control of her time, her work thrived, and she had more quality moments with her family. It wasn’t about doing more; it was about doing what truly mattered.
Her story is a testament to the power of these seven time management strategies. If you’re juggling the demands of life, these principles can help you take control of your time and design a life that aligns with your values and aspirations.
So, take a moment to think about what matters to you. What are your values? What do you want to achieve? What are your goals? Start planning for them. Start making those intentional choices.
Your time is precious, and you can never get it back. So, go out there and make the most of it.
In an era where we’re perpetually bombarded with demands, distractions, and an ever-expanding to-do list, the concept of “time management” takes on profound significance.
It’s no longer a mere skill but a life philosophy—an approach that can make the difference between barely keeping up and thriving in the face of constant change.