Time management is one of those topics that transcends just about every position in the world. Everyone needs to manage their time well to be effective whether you are a student, a stay-at-home mom or dad, a CEO, or a nonprofit professional.
But have you heard that good time management could be the secret to happiness? Seems like a mighty big claim, doesn’t it?
OK, maybe time management isn’t the only key to happiness, but I would agree with this by Belinda Weaver in 5 Practical Time Management Tips for the Chronically Time-Poor:
“Poor time management is a shortcut to hell.”
She works from home like I do so a lot of what she says made sense, but her points still stand for office jobs as well. Like I said, everyone needs to manage their time the best they can.
Making progress on a project – ticking off those to-dos – gives us a sense of accomplishment. We feel so much better at the end of the day when we see progress being made on something important to us. But how do you feel when you haven’t managed your time well? You feel overwhelmed and stressed out. It’s a quick path to burnout.
Here are Belinda’s tips on managing your time:
1. Know Your Work Zones
“When you know your work zones, you can schedule the tasks best suited to each zone.”
This isn’t just about when you can work. It’s more about what you can get done during certain times. If you have a lot of meetings on Mondays, maybe taking a few minutes between meeting to schedule a few social media posts will work for you. If the office empties out on Friday afternoons, maybe that’s a good time to record some videos or write.
2. Be Clear about Your Priorities
“The harsh truth is that many of the tasks we spend time on don’t make us any money or get us closer to our goals.”
You can be busy all day long at work without really getting anything done. While, yes, you do have to eventually check your email and social media, Belinda says she breaks her day down into doing one thing that furthers her goals, another that has an approaching deadline, and then another that requires a response. Everything else goes on her “Other Things” list. If those things don’t come up again then they shouldn’t be on the to-do list to being with.
3. Create a Time Map
Figure out how much time you need to spend on each task. You only have so many hours in a day. Mapping out how much time you will devote to different tasks will help you prioritize and stay on track.
Belinda uses the Pomodoro Technique developed by Francesco Cirillo where you set a timer and only work on that task during that amount of time.
4. Use Calendar Blocking to Level Up
Similar to a time map, use calendar time blocking to move priorities from your to-do list into your calendar based on how long each task takes.
You can also use it in reverse: to put limits on the amount of time you spend on things that have a way of eating up too much time, like meetings or email. Maybe you say you’ll only spend 10 hours a week in meetings. When you reach the limit, no more meetings. Or maybe you’ll only spend 1 hour in the morning and one in the afternoon on email. Schedule it and stick to it.
We share some similar ideas in this post: Chunking Out Your Time: What Works for You?
5. Allow Time to Drift
“Taking breaks helps, but I also give myself permission to drift … to give my brain time to relax, to daydream, to just do its own thing. That’s often when the magic happens.”
Make sure you allow time for not only scheduled breaks but for those times when you just need to check out for a while. Some days we just aren’t feeling ourselves. It’s OK to stop and go for a walk or stretch or listen to a favorite song.
Here are some more resources from Nonprofit Marketing Guide on time management:
- Stay Focused at Work: 4 Ideas You Can Try
- 8 Productivity Practices You Might Want to Try
- 5 Strategies to Guard Your To-Do List from What Doesn’t Belong
And always, feel free to share your best time management tips with us below.