Welcome to the best compilation of time management tips on the internet, courtesy of dozens of great comments people have sent us on this topic. Here is the simple question I asked people:
For those always complaining about not having enough hours in the day, what time management tip can you share that has worked for you personally?
Of the 100+ comments that people sent, I’ve published the best one’s below. Here’s a summary of the points, tips and advice people have put forward, along with a link to the full comment for each point:
- Split up your time by taking a 5 minute break every 25 minutes (the Pomodoro technique) (link)
- Schedule shorter meetings (link)
- Don’t waste your “dead-time” (such as waiting at a train station or waiting for an email) (link)
- Focus on just 1 project in the morning (link)
- Plan your week in advance (link) (EDITORS NOTE: Or every day in advance, the night before — this was a very common piece of advice in comments people sent to us)
- Think of how you can remove any possible distractions, starting with of course your phone and social media (link)
- Stick to your schedule (link)
- Pay attention to your sleep management, and have a consistent bedtime and wake-up time, even on weekends (link)
- Write down all your tasks on sticky notes and place them on your desk in sequence (link)
- Know the dollar value of your time, and if you can delegate or outsource a task for less than your time is worth, do it (link)
- Reward yourself for not slacking off, by slacking off (link)
- Do a time audit where you work out exactly how and where you’re spending your time (link). You can further categorize tasks using a time management matrix, where they’re sorted based on urgency and importance (link). After this you’ll know where you’re wasting time and what you should be focusing on more
- Start your day by doing the hardest thing first — the “Eat That Frog” method by the bestselling book of the same name (link) (EDITORS NOTE: Many people recommended this, though one other comment recommends the opposite — starting with the easiest task first.)
- Regarding the above point, whether you’re an early bird or night owl may affect when you get your best work done (link)
- Set an alarm clock and try to beat the timer (link)
- You should of course cut back on social media, and avoid looking at it in the morning if you can (link)
- Set a specific time each day to look at emails, and only look at emails during this time and no other time (link)
- See if you can get family members to help you (link) (EDITORS NOTE: This one is obviously not applicable or practical for everyone)
- To help motivate yourself, write up a DONE list (as opposed to a todo list) (link)
- Keep a routine (link)
- Music can help (link)
- Batch your tasks together (link)
- Take some nice time for yourself before the workday (link)
- If you’re the type to get bored or distracted easily, use time blocking to make sure you’re not spending too much time on the same task at once (link)
- Keep a clean work environment (link)
- Schedule some grace time into your workday (link)
- Get up early and watch the sunrise (link)
- Avoid decision fatigue (link)
Related to this piece is our community discussions on how to overcome procrastination and how to get organized, along with many other articles in our self help category. If you have any further tips for time management, or can contribute to anything else we’ve published, we’re still very much welcoming new contributions. Submit a comment to anything we’ve published here and we’ll add it to the relevant piece.
My favorite time management tip, especially for those of us working remotely is known as the Pomodoro technique. It's a method of working more efficiently in order to squeeze out your most productive hours every day. It works by splitting up your shift by working nonstop for 25 minutes, followed by resting for 5 to 10 minutes. The Pomodoro technique helps you mentally recharge, so you can come back fully refreshed to resume work. I would recommend it for anyone that wants to increase their productivity while working from home by re-thinking their daily work routine.
Personally, I prefer to work in short bursts of productivity anyway, and the Pomodoro technique takes it even further. I've never liked working long sustained hours since I don't believe it's possible for anyone to be productive for hours in a row. So for me, the Pomodoro technique works perfectly and allows me to get work done from home and manage my time better. The Pomodoro technique is ideal for those of us that like to work odd-hours, and around the clock on projects that are on tight deadlines.
--Edward Solicito, ToTheTop
My top tip is to schedule shorter meetings. Most calendar apps default to 30 minute blocks so your meetings are either 30 minutes or an hour by default. You can change that in the settings. If you normally have 30 minute meetings, make them 25 minutes. If you normally book an hour, book 45 minutes instead. People will be grateful to have some time back in the day and I guarantee you'll be able to get your full agenda covered in that time. You'll be more focused and efficient at getting through the content if you know people have to go.
This simple shift has made a huge difference to me because I often have multiple meetings in a day, one after the other. Winning back 15 minutes here and there helps me take a mental break between each meeting, get my notes organized and show up to my next meeting ready to contribute. That also makes me more efficient, less stressed and generally a better influence on my team because I feel like my day is under control. I'm managing my time instead of running around trying to stay on top of my commitments and feeling frazzled by the effort. I've never had a single complaint when booking a shorter meeting!
--Elizabeth Harrin, GirlsGuideToPM
If you're at the train station, waiting for an email to come through, or an email to start, and you're not getting something done - you're wasting time. All of these 5 minute things add up, and by the end of the day you might have spent an hour just waiting for something to happen! Instead, while you're waiting in a queue or for automated software to get started you can answer emails and tackle the hundreds of unread messages in your inbox.
You don't even need to make the extra 5 minutes work-related. Reading a couple of pages of a book, making a coffee, meditating, or stretching can also be a great way to spend those 5 minutes because you're taking time out to refresh and tackle your next task with a clear head.
Don't waste those 5 minutes!
--Rhiannon Moore, Evopure
I know I do my most productive work during the first half of the day, so I devote each morning/noon to ONE project I need to work on. I set a number of tasks that need to get done, tasks that are connected to that single project. That way, even if I get distracted a bit, I at least stay focused on one project without drifting away to other, unrelated tasks.
Then, I allow myself to use the second half of the day for other projects and things that need to get done - answering e-mails, dealing with payments, etc'.
--Or Goren, Cord Busters
During my business carreer I noticed that the most people complaining about not having enough time would never plan their week in advance. If you don't plan tomorrow, you will find yourself in a position when you're burried under tones of tasks that you didn't expect. Just try it and you will be surprised how well it works.
--Nick Nagatkin, DIGIS
The best tip that I can give that has definitely worked for me is to keep your focus and conquer distractions. There are so many things that are ready to steal our attention from work and other responsibilities that can inhibit our productivity, especially in this digital age. And while removing distractions is a common time-management reminder, we still often underestimate the impact that little distractions such as checking our phone, taking a peek at social media, or simply having a messy workspace can have on our productivity. When you think about it, if you add up the time you spend worrying about these things, you'll probably realize that you could have used that time to do something more important. Which is why you need to learn how to get rid of these distractions and get in the zone. This means removing all physical and mental clutter. Take some time each day to clean and customize your workspace. Not only will it remove any potentially distracting objects but having a clean and organized workspace can also put you in the right mood to get work done. Try putting your phone on silent mode and place it somewhere it can't distract you. Limit the number of open tabs in your browser and try turning off social media notifications as well. Becoming aware of your behaviors and taking simple actionable steps to change your routine and habits can significantly improve both how you manage your time and the quality of your work.
--Bradley Keys, PatchMD
My number one time management tip is to stick to the schedule. I use my calendar to schedule everything: from calls and meetings to workouts, family time, and meditation sessions. I always estimate the time I need for admin work, like reviewing reports, checking and responding to emails, and include them in my daily schedule.
However, it is easy to get caught up in fire fighting when urgent things come up. It can mess up your schedule and make you skip some of the activities you planned for the day. My solution for this is not to focus on the task's scope but instead on the schedule. For example, if an urgent meeting took two hours out of my day and now I have only 20 minutes for lunch with my family instead of one hour, I rather still spend these 20 minutes with them than cancel it.
If I have only 30 minutes to have a one on one session with my employee instead of the scheduled hour, I will fully dedicate these 30 minutes to my employee instead of postponing it. When you keep postponing things, they have a tendency to pile up, and you end up doing nothing. So it is crucial to stick to the schedule no matter what comes up during the day.
--Daniel Seeff, Foot Cardigan
Probably the most effective time management tip that no one talks about is sleep management. How often do people hear their alarms and press the snooze button once or a few dozen times? These people are commonly late for work and are not better rested. The reason for this is because they did not get as good of sleep as they should.
Sleep management is a practice, you must continually fall asleep at a well-established schedule. This is a rare practice, especially during weekends. It is common for people to sleep in or to stay up late during the weekend. Many medical journals claim this is unhealthful for your mental health.
In fact, one of my mentors informed me that throwing off your sleep schedule during a weekend is the worst way to kill your mental sharpness. He even went as far as to tell me that if my sleep schedule is off by more than 2 hours (in other words, I slept in more than 2 hours or stayed up later than 2 hours past my normal sleep time) I might as well wake up Monday morning and down a fifth of liquor in a matter of minutes before I show up to work. I must emphasize, please never try that out, I have taken his word for it.
Regardless, I maintain a well-established sleep schedule and I am still able to wake up early in the morning with more energy than people who wake up at 7 or 8, a few hours after I wake up. Sleep management is a sure way to maintain your energy throughout the day so you can utilize the time you are awake optimally.
--Tyler Forte, Felix Homes
My number 1 time management tip is to write down all your task on sticky notes and place them somewhere on your desk (in sequence) where you could easily see them. It should indicate the time that you would be doing each task. For example, 8 to 9 AM is for designing company template, 8:15 to 11 AM write a new blog article, and so on. This way, you can prioritize too what needs to be work on first. Sometimes, we overwork on one task that may seem time-consuming. Unless you have no other projects waiting, then you can spend all day working on it.
--Shelly Peel, SocialMum
Filter every task or checklist item through a highest and best use mental filter. For someone like me who really enjoys checking boxes on a to do list, it is easy to start with the easy or menial tasks to get that endorphin rush of marking items as complete. However, most of the time those are not the tasks that will bring me the most return on my investment (my time). One way I do this is to estimate what an hour of my time is worth. Business tasks that earn me at or above this number go to the top of the list. Anything below this number, I try to delegate or hire someone else to do them.
This mindset often spills over into things in my personal life with things like going grocery shopping or mowing the lawn. For example, if it takes me an hour to mow the lawn but in that hour I could have made $80 in my business, then economically it makes sense for me to hire someone else to cut my lawn for $40. Even if I don't work during that hour but instead choose to play with my kids or go on a date with my wife, it is still worth it to me because time with family is worth significantly more to me than $40. I can work another hour elsewhere in the day to pay for the time that I didn't have to spend mowing my lawn and instead got to spend with family.
Assigning a dollar value to your time, even your leisure or free time may seem hyper-capitalistic but really for me it is just a tool with which to measure the importance of my daily task and prioritize them accordingly. I could go much deeper in the mental calculations I use even to determine a monetary value for things like 30 minutes of exercise or spending time in nature, but I think I'll keep it basic for now. If you'd like me to expand any further, let me know!
--Erik Wright, New Horizon Estates
Reward yourself for not slacking off, by slacking off.
When I started my blog, I could never have anticipated the immense workload that owning your own business comes with. I reached out to a friend in project management to find out how best to manage my time.
The issue that I had after that was that I was not effectively using my now scheduled time. I have a habit of working for ten minutes, then checking Facebook, going back to work for a while, checking Instagram, going back to work for a bit, then checking my Twitter feed. In order to combat this, I have started rewarding myself for not slacking off during scheduled working hours, by allowing myself to slack off on scheduled slack breaks. I don't use these breaks unless I absolutely deserve them however, and only allow myself to take them if I have met two important criteria:
1) Have I finished the work I scheduled for the time that I worked? 2) Have I avoided slacking sufficiently while working, so that I deserve the break?
If I can tick both of these off, then I reward myself for sticking to my schedule without giving into distraction - it's been a lifesaver! I now enjoy the time that I do take for myself and find that I am working a lot less in the evenings.
--Mollie Newton, PetMeTwice
As a retiree and a businessman, the best personal time management tip that has worked for me personally is to work on how you are currently spending your time.
If you want to make the most out of your time, figure out where you have been putting your time in. For a week or so, try logging your day-to-day activities and how much time you spend on doing them. Doing so will help you determine what you can accomplish in a day and what activities give you most returns.
If you work on a time audit, you will be able to prioritize tasks that are more important to you and your goals. A time audit will also allow you to create a schedule that circles around your objectives. Knowing what you need and don’t need to do will help you make sure to only work on the essentials first.
--Arnold Chapman, ELDFocus
My #1 tip for getting things done is to start your day by doing the hardest thing on your to-do list. I got this from a book called Eat That Frog, whose main thesis revolves around this tip. The reason why you do the hardest thing first is that usually, the hardest item on your list is the most important.
I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that I have a million and one things on my to do list. It's often easy to get distracted by knocking out low-hanging fruit. You know, tasks that are simple, fast, and fun, but don't really move the needle on my big goals.
That's why it's important to Eat That Frog, so that you get done what absolutely NEEDS to be done, instead of completing a bunch of silly tasks that...really don't matter.
--Mike Miller, Wilderness Times
My best tip to manage time is this: whenever I turn on my laptop to start my daily hustle, I first open my online alarm clock - I set the exact time as to when I will stop working on a task. I get pressured as I see the time running, and it drives me to accomplish things with maximum productivity. I get annoyed hearing that full blast alarm, so I tend to work as fast as I could - to beat the timer. Then, I'm free to jump on what's next on my to-do list. Yes, we sure need a list!
--Ajmal Dar, Moccasin Guru
My organizing clients often complain of not having enough time. My #1 tip is to limit social media use and especially do not look at social media first thing in the morning when you're trying to get the kids off to school, get ready for work, etc. Social media is a time suck. Even when we use it for business/marketing, set a timer for 20-30 minutes. Scrolling through social media eats into huge parts of our day. If you want to be productive, use your time wisely.
--Lisa Dooley, Your Organized Life
My number one time management tip is email specific. Set aside time each day to work on emails and only work on responding to emails during that time.. If you work on sending emails all day long, your inbox will run your day rather than you running it. Also, try to keep your email inbox at under 25 emails by the end of the day. File any conversations that are completed away, delete irrelevant messages, and respond to any time-sensitive emails as soon as possible.
--Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation
I highly recommend using family members to help you. For instance, I have three jobs. I am a full-time teacher, I am a pro-blogger, and I am a freelance writer. I couldn't do my jobs effectively without the help of my family. My husband is my blog's business manager and he also helps with billing. My daughter, a freelance writer, is my consultant, my daughter Hayley also helps as a consultant. My daughter Rachel is a resource when it comes to technology and websites people in her generation use that I'm not as familiar with. Everyone helps me. The result: I have more family time and more help with my blogging business and freelance writing business.
--Janice Wald, Mostly Blogging
My view on time management is a little different. After years of beating myself up for all the things I didn't get accomplished in a day, I took a different approach to a traditional to-do list. Instead of focusing on all the things I had to do, I stated focusing on the things I got done. I started making lists of everything I DID accomplish during the day and started to realize that I was doing way more than I thought and my time management wasn't so bad after all. My Done List helped me see that I was letting the stress and overwhelm of my to-do list actually hold me back making me less productive during the day. When I stopped worrying about crossing off every task and started focusing on everything I accomplished my productivity skyrocketed.
--Jackie Jones, P is for Pregnant
My number one tip for time management is routine. It sounds pretty mundane, but it depends on what the routine is about. A business owner knows the daily, monthly and annual operations of their business better than anyone. A lot of time is wasted on starting projects that you never finish and then neglecting the daily fundamentals that drive your business forward. I find getting into a daily routine is key to my success. I start each day the same and sure, things happen during the day that change your routine slightly and may need your initial focus, but your daily tasks need to be done. Get your routine tasks done first and you free up so much more time to fix any issues or indeed start projects. With the nitty-gritty tasks done, they won't niggle at you and you can focus meaning you will get so much more done over a longer period.
--Shaun Taylor, Moriti Private Safaris
My #1 surprisingly effective tip for time management is to create your own music playlist. It’s effective for me as it sets my mood, helps me get in the zone, and be more focused on any specific task. My playlist usually consists of happy and upbeat music that doesn’t have lyrics as it often distracts me from working because I feel the need to sing along.
--Brigham Pongyan, Viakix
I love Stephen R. Covey's time management matrix, which divides one's tasks into four quadrants based on urgency and importance. To figure out whether I'm using my time wisely, and to know where to put more effort, I sometimes print out the matrix and make a dot with a pen for every task I do or meeting I attend. At the end of the day, or a week, or a month, I look at the dots to see where I spent my time.
--Rob Watson, Webidextrous
One thing I learned to do a long time ago is kind of counterintuitive for most folks. Overachievers tend to go for the biggest thing on the to-do list first, probably as a way of gathering momentum and reducing the stress of the remaining work on the list. However, a trick I learned way back when I was just starting out is to pick some of the easiest things on your list to do first. I didn't want to at first, thinking it was low-hanging fruit syndrome. However, when I started putting a few quick and easy wins up top, I realized how wonderful it feels to already have things checked off the list with so little effort expended. It really does make you feel more confident about tackling the rest of what needs to be done and ends up saving you a little bit of time and lots of frustration in the end.
--Ben Lamarche, Lock Search Group
My number one time management tip that has helped me organize my day is that at the start of every day, I take time to sit down, look at my tasks, and batch them together. For example, I usually spend a lot of time making phone calls and answering emails, especially when I first get in.
Instead of answering a few emails, then making a few phone calls and switching back and forth, I make a point to group them. So, the first thing I do is give myself an hour or two to read through and answer all of my important emails. Next, I organize my calls and spend an hour or two block making and returning them.
Working like this helps to keep my mind focused on one task at a time, and I'm not constantly switching gears and trying to remember what I was working on an hour ago. I get much more done throughout the day, and I don't waste nearly as much time.
--Jen Stark, Happy DIY Home
My number one tip for success and time management is dedicating time to yourself before jumping into the work day. This helps to get rid of any previous anxiety or stress from the previous day, increasing my likelihood to succeed by allowing me to start my day with a clear and focused mind. Waking up an hour earlier in the morning and setting aside time for physical exercise, followed by a 10/15 minute meditation practice has truly been transformative for my productivity levels as well as my mental and physical health. I follow my workout and meditation with a healthy and nutritious breakfast. I like to enjoy the time I have to myself and be present whilst eating, resisting the urge to be on my phone or use any technology. I have been following this rule for years and share it with everyone because it is so simple and easy to implement yet so significant when it comes to productivity and overall success.
--Ashwin Sokke, WOW Skin Science
When it comes to time management, I am not one who thrives in repetitive environments. Consistently having the opportunity to do something different and learn is highly rewarding for me and keeps me engaged longer. Time blocking my schedule helps to keep the excitement alive. If I work on one task for too long, I immediately become distracted and begin to procrastinate. By keeping this in mind, I am able to pivot and quickly move onto another task. It is a constant back and forth and may not work for everyone but it has proven to be an effective method for me personally.
--Jason Akatiff, Boundery
Optimize your work environment because how you manage your time and focus is directly impacted by everything around you. Your surroundings will have an effect on how productive you are, positive or negative, so it is important that you reduce the distractions. Remove the clutter around your workspace both physically and digitally by only keeping necessary tools within arms reach and closing all unneeded applications and tabs. Creating and maintaining an optimal workspace is critical to managing your time effectively and sustaining productivity throughout each day.
--Edwin Rubio, VaporEmpire
My number one time management tip would be to jot down all your tasks for the next day before you go to bed so that when the next day comes, you know all the things you have to get done and you will work your way through each one of them as the day progresses. This is important so that you will not forget any important task you still have to do and so that you can prioritize well which tasks you have to accomplish first, and which ones can wait for later. Just make sure that in jotting down these tasks, do it in a way that you will not be too swamped up and that you will still have time for yourself.
--Lewis Keegan, SkillScouter
If you always run out of hours in the day, there’s a 90% chance you’re overscheduling yourself. A trap I’ve often fallen into in the past is planning for how much time a task “should” take rather than being realistic about how much time it will take. I’ve learned to schedule some grace time into my workday to account for the inevitable distractions and unanticipated issues that come up when I’m working on a project. If I don’t need this time, great—I can use it to get a head start on the next day’s to-do list. More often than not, though, I find this time does turn out to be necessary for getting through all the tasks I planned to tackle.
--Jon Hill, The Energists
As an integrative wellness and business owner, the best time management tip I give to all my clients is to know whether or not they are early birds or night owls. Understanding the time of day when we function best helps us break down our days into time slots of morning, afternoon, and evening. Being an early bird helps you determine that analytical tasks are best done in the morning and creative brainstorming; whereas, night owls function best when doing creative brainstorming in the mornings and analytical tasks in the evenings. Midday is best for simple tasks such as texting or responding to emails (i.e. communications). Once that has been determined, batching such tasks into their respective time slots and prioritizing them will help manage tasks throughout the day without jumping from one task to another.
--Beatríz Satizábal, Mindful Wellness
How do I get more time in my day? I watch the sunrise!
That may seem quirky! I mean, what’s watching the sunrise got to do with finding more time in my day?
Well, watching the sunrise makes for an awesome sight. And science shows that, when we have a sense of awe, we feel more in the moment, and time feels more abundant.
I did this during the pandemic, when I was working from dawn till late, with huge pressures to deliver revenue for the company.
It really works! I felt calmer. I started the day enlivened, rather than sluggish. I met my revenue targets!
Given that watching the sunrise gives people the sense that they have more time in their day, it’s little wonder, then, that high-flying execs like Richard Branson (Virgin), Bob Iger (Disney) and Howard Schultz (Starbucks) – all of whom have huge workloads – each wake before sunrise!
--Neo Silva, Neomal Silvas Meditation
If you notice in a day we are making many decisions and these can be anything from - what to eat for breakfast, what to wear, what book to read, and many such trivial matters.
Making decisions after decisions can drain us of our mental energy, and deteriorate the quality of making good decisions. We can develop a routine for our menial tasks by having a meal plan, limiting our choices, delegating or having a weekly wardrobe. By reducing the number of decisions we can conserve energy and resources for the most significant ones.
--Smruti Ghag, PharmaDigiCoach
One of the best time management tips or tools I can suggest is to stay organized. Choose how you want to do it, whether on paper, with sticky notes, or a project manager app. Find a way to know what you have to do and when. I prefer a digital project manager. Paper and clutter really weigh me down, so I try to eliminate as much of it as I can. Sometimes when I am on a phone call I will take notes on paper, but as soon as the call is over I transfer them to my project manager or digital notes. Things that are digital are searchable and can be accessed from anywhere you have access to the internet. Before you start taking notes and creating files, you need to get organized and figure out the method and structure of storing notes and files for projects and clients. Being better organized is going to reduce time searching for notes and files and let you focus more on the job at hand. You will feel so much more productive when you are organized.
--Jay Bilunas, Angry Ape Creative