Ever find yourself stressed with an abundance of work and not enough time in the day? The pressure mounts as tasks pile up, deadlines loom, and your to-do list seems to have a life of its own. But have you ever wondered how some people effortlessly navigate their day, staying focused and accomplishing their goals?

While some individuals can power through the day with effective time management, many of us struggle to find that balance. Time management is a frequently heard phrase, but its true essence and how to master our daily twenty-four hours often elude us. The key lies in controlling time instead of letting it control us – in simpler terms, effective time management.

Improving time management benefits everyone, providing relief from constant pressure. Without mastering time, opportunities, efficiency, and a balanced work-life equation might slip through your fingers. If you often find yourself saying, “So much to do, so little time,” it might be time to seek help for better time management.

The good news is that productivity isn’t a natural gift for some; it involves learnable skills that anyone can practice and master. Even with a full plate, effective workday management opens up ample time to accomplish tasks. Ready to work smarter, not necessarily harder or longer? If you’re eager to enhance your time management skills, keep reading!

“Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the thing that he can least afford to waste.” –Thomas Edison

What is Time Management, and what are the benefits of effective time management?

Time management is a strategy that involves organizing and planning how you distribute your time among different tasks. This method empowers you to manage all your responsibilities without becoming overwhelmed. By working efficiently and prioritizing urgent or important tasks, followed by those less urgent but still important, you can focus your time and energy on what truly matters. This approach allows you to work smarter, not harder, leading to heightened productivity. The benefits include, but are not limited to:

• Reduced stress and anxiety
• Improved work-life balance
• Enhanced focus
• Higher levels of productivity
• More free time
• Simplified tasks
• Fewer distractions
• Increased energy and motivation

Top strategies to improve time management skills

1- Prioritize Tasks: After creating your To-Do List, establish priorities.

After writing your list, the next step is prioritization. Evaluate the importance of each task and establish the most effective order for their completion. Effective time management involves determining the sequence in which tasks should be undertaken. Whether you’re a team member or in a leadership role, having a well-defined understanding of your key priorities is essential. After all, pursuing your goals successfully starts with a clear identification of what needs to be accomplished.

An efficient way to prioritize your daily tasks is by using the Eisenhower Matrix. It helps you classify and distinguish your most important tasks from those you can delegate or remove altogether. This method is named after Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States, known for his effectiveness and discipline:

Urgent Not Urgent
Important Do this Schedule this
Not important Delegate this Delete this

Every day, take a look at your schedule and mark your to-do list to show whether tasks are urgent, important, or neither. This can guide you in deciding when and how to manage your time during the day. Typically, focus on urgent tasks in order of importance. Once these are done, approach your non-urgent tasks in the same way. This ensures that critical tasks receive the necessary attention and time.

When sorting tasks by priority, a crucial distinction lies between “urgent” and “important” tasks. Urgent tasks require immediate completion, whereas important tasks hold significance, and neglecting them could result in negative consequences. However, there is more flexibility regarding when you address important tasks.

Tasks categorized as both urgent and important take precedence, but the goal is to minimize the number of tasks in this category. As you manage your schedule, you’ll create space to concentrate on tasks that are important but not urgent. Over time, this approach aims to decrease the chances of important tasks turning into urgent ones.

Consider this scenario: fetching your prescription from the pharmacy is important since you likely need the medication, and delaying it could negatively impact your health. However, you may have some flexibility in the next few days regarding when you pick it up. On the other hand, if you’re anticipating an essential phone call and your phone rings, answering the call becomes an urgent task. This is because it requires your immediate attention.

2- Eliminate Distractions

Distractions pose a significant challenge to productivity in today’s world—they seem to be everywhere! Your phone vibrates, your email chimes, and suddenly, you find yourself immersed in something entirely unrelated to your current task, like scrolling social media. Our daily lives are undeniably fast-paced and full of distractions, hindering the improvement of time management skills. For example, working from home may present difficulties in concentration due to the abundance of distractions, leading to the loss of valuable hours before you realize it.

Most of the time, letting these things distract you can mess up your efforts to get better at managing your time. How do you deal with them? Shut them out. Seriously, it’s that simple. When you need to concentrate, turn your workspace into a distraction-free zone.

Effective ways to steer clear of distractions include putting your phone away or silencing notifications, turning off computer notifications, and, if possible, finding a quiet spot away from the hustle and bustle. Creating a designated office space, even at home, and letting family or colleagues know not to disturb you with non-work-related matters can also help. Taking charge of your time is crucial for boosting productivity.

Distractions like social media, web browsing, co-workers, text messages, and instant messaging can seem endless. A key to managing your time well is actively working to eliminate them. Close your door to minimize interruptions, keep only the necessary tabs open, turn off messaging notifications, and save personal phone calls for lunch.

When you block out distractions, you’re making a power move. You’re taking control of your environment and your attention. And when you do that, you’re free to get into the zone, where work doesn’t just get started—it gets finished.

Consider using website blockers or app blockers. These are applications that let you block particular websites or other apps (you pick the ones causing distraction) while you’re working.

Another helpful tip is to allocate a specific time of day to check your email or messages. This way, you won’t be constantly interrupted by incoming messages in your inbox as you work on various tasks.

Start small. Pinpoint your top two distractions and concentrate on overcoming them for two weeks. Also, keep in mind that getting sufficient sleep, staying hydrated, and maintaining a healthy diet can contribute to staying focused, particularly when that afternoon slump kicks in.

3- Multi-tasking is the worst idea

The multitasking myth is widespread and appears alluring. On the surface, multitasking seems like a way to handle multiple tasks simultaneously, implying that you can accomplish more in the time it would usually take for one task. However, studies consistently show that multitasking hinders productivity.

In a 2011 research study conducted at the University of California, it was discovered that multitasking can have adverse effects on your working memory and the capacity to concentrate on crucial tasks. Clearly, this is not conducive to effective time management.

Multitasking research highlights numerous detrimental effects, challenging the expectation that this practice enhances productivity. On the contrary, multitasking:

• Lowers your IQ: A study from the University of London suggests that multitasking can lead to a decline of up to 15 points in IQ, bringing cognitive abilities down to those of an eight-year-old child.
• Damages your brain: Research at the University of Sussex indicates that multitasking may reduce brain density and potentially cause damage.
• Makes you lose time: Unlike single-tasking, where momentum builds, allowing you to immerse yourself in a task and reach a state of deep work, multitasking can lead to a loss of time and hinder the achievement of deep work.

Multitasking, often perceived as essential, may not live up to the hype. In reality, true multitasking doesn’t exist. While you may attempt to handle various tasks simultaneously, none receives your full attention or reaches optimal execution. Research reveals that your brain doesn’t function like a supercomputer managing multiple tasks simultaneously; instead, it frantically switches between tasks. Each switch incurs a time cost, akin to slamming the brakes on your productivity car. Despite feeling busy, similar to a circus performer spinning plates, you’re essentially spreading your attention thin. It is advisable to avoid multitasking, as the cumulative effect of frequent switches, even if each seems to cost only a few seconds, can be substantial. Multitasking not only increases the likelihood of smaller mistakes but also detrimentally impacts your working memory and ability to concentrate on essential tasks, leading to things slipping through the cracks. Scientific consensus underscores that multitasking diminishes efficiency and can even pose dangers. The American Psychological Association notes that mental juggling incurs “switching costs” that significantly reduce productivity, amplifying the risk of errors.

To enhance your time management skills, it’s crucial to master the art of dedicating your complete attention to the task at hand. Improved productivity is achievable only through the mastery of sustained focus and effort.

Concentrate on completing one task before moving on to the next. This minor adjustment can enhance your results. By dedicating your attention to one task at a time, you not only increase your speed but also elevate the quality of your work. It’s about working smarter, not harder—this is the key to winning the productivity game. Bonus: You’ll experience less fatigue!

4- Manage your stress

As per the American Psychological Association, approximately 77% of individuals in the United States encounter physical symptoms resulting from stress. Additionally, about 73% contend with psychological symptoms. Stress not only affects your body but also disrupts your mental well-being and time management. When stress takes hold, it disrupts your productivity, acting like an obstacle in the smooth functioning of your tasks. Distractions arise, work may be avoided, and time continues to pass without accomplishing necessary tasks.

However, stress goes beyond mere feelings of unease; it significantly impacts your brain. Studies indicate that stress can reduce the size of certain brain regions, exacerbating the challenges of managing your responsibilities. When you’re grappling with both physical and psychological distress, merely staying afloat is an achievement, and achieving more in less time becomes a formidable task.

Therefore, stress management emerges as a secondary skill that complements and enhances your primary time management abilities, ultimately contributing to improved performance in your professional tasks. Feeling overwhelmed often stems from taking on more responsibilities than one can handle. It becomes imperative to identify personalized strategies for managing stress responses. Discover effective approaches such as taking short breaks, engaging in exercise, practicing meditation, pursuing hobbies, connecting with friends, or enjoying music. In order to allocate sufficient time for leisure activities, reassess every aspect of your daily routine and formulate a strategy that maximizes benefits within the shortest timeframe possible.

Taking control of stress is essential for both your overall well-being and the effectiveness of your task list. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be an elaborate process. Sometimes, all it requires is a few minutes of focused deep breathing—simply inhale and exhale. It’s that straightforward. Supported by research, this breathing technique has the potential to diminish stress hormones that disrupt your equilibrium.

When you feel pressure building, pinpoint what helps you unwind. Whether it’s practicing breathing exercises, taking a short walk, or immersing yourself in your favorite music, establish it as your preferred stress-alleviating method.

Benefits of stress management encompass reducing various risks, diminishing the likelihood of dealing with:

• Sleep problems,
• Physical issues like heart disease, high blood pressure, and stomach aches,
• Frequent migraines and headaches, and
• Mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression.

By minimizing the risk of these issues through stress management, you pave the way for enhanced productivity and a better understanding of time management.

When you really consider it, time stands as your utmost valuable possession. Acknowledging this, it becomes crucial to efficiently manage your time, ensuring ample room for leisure pursuits, hobbies, and personal life. Otherwise, you jeopardize your mental well-being and subject yourself to an overwhelming level of stress.

5- Think about saying NO

A lot of people end up taking on too much either to look good and show they’re dedicated or just because saying no is hard. But having too many tasks can really mess with how well you get things done and how you feel about it.

If you’re skilled at managing your time, you understand that your day has limited hours, and your time is valuable. Therefore, decline tasks that aren’t your top priority, allowing you to concentrate on more significant and impactful activities. It’s essential not to take on more than you can handle.

Establishing a cap on the amount of workload you’re willing to take on can assist you in organizing your time and dedicating your attention to the most crucial tasks. This, in turn, allows you to concentrate and enhance productivity in tasks that demand immediate attention. Since you are the best judge of your time constraints, if you find it necessary to turn down a request to prioritize more significant tasks, don’t hesitate to do so. Similarly, if you realize a project isn’t heading anywhere, feel free to let it go without apprehension.

Instead of engaging in numerous tasks with minimal or no value, prioritize completing fewer tasks that generate greater value. Keep in mind the 80/20 rule, where 80% of your output is derived from 20% of your inputs. Concentrate your efforts on that impactful 20%.

Declining a request may seem like you’re turning your back on someone, but it’s not about being unkind or selfish. It’s about making wise choices with your time and energy. Imagine your time as a pie. If you say ‘yes’ too often, everyone gets a slice, leaving nothing for you or the tasks that truly matter. Learning to say ‘no’ is like setting a fence around your time – it safeguards your focus and helps you stay clear on your priorities. People respect boundaries, and they might even reconsider before adding another task to your plate.

Begin by identifying the amount of work that suits your capacity, and then confidently decline any additional workload that exceeds this limit. If you feel guilty about not being able to assist, simply communicate to the person making the request that you lack the time to deliver the quality of work they expect, or that you have other, more critical deadlines to meet.

Get into the habit of openly and assertively communicating your work capacity and current workload. Overloading ourselves with responsibilities can hinder us from accomplishing crucial tasks and lead to missed deadlines.

“Saying no—politely but firmly—is an art form, and if you can master it, you’ll feel much more in control of your time. Very often, it’s not even a case of saying no but setting expectations for when you can do something—for example, by saying something like ‘I can’t do this until next week.’” — Bernard Marr, Forbes

6- Make plans and deadlines, be organized

Successful time management doesn’t happen by chance; it requires careful planning. Creating a strategy that prioritizes tasks, organizes task sequences, manages calendars, handles meetings, and outlines project plans allows you to navigate the day purposefully and stay on track.

After you’ve organized your priorities, the next step is to estimate the time required for each task and create a schedule outlining when you’ll address them. While estimating task durations may seem straightforward, many of us struggle in this area. In general, there’s a tendency to overestimate the time needed for short tasks and underestimate the time required for longer ones—an occurrence known as the “planning fallacy.” Interestingly, our suboptimal scheduling is occasionally driven more by a fear of failure than an actual inability to gauge time accurately. For instance, waiting until the last minute to start a task may result from concerns about not having sufficient time to complete it effectively.

Yet, we are also afforded a convenient excuse, attributing our failure to a “lack of time” rather than acknowledging personal shortcomings. This psychological phenomenon is recognized as “self-handicapping.”

When you structure your day, prioritize tasks, and track your progress, you gain a clear understanding of your position in relation to your larger goals. On the other hand, lacking adequate day-to-day organization can make enhancing your time management skills feel like a challenging undertaking.

Every individual’s day-to-day routine is distinct and tailored to their specific needs, so ensure that your schedule aligns with what works best for you. Once you’ve factored in regular commitments like classes or work shifts, incorporate study sessions, extracurricular activities, household chores, errands, and social engagements.

Consider your energy fluctuations throughout the day when scheduling tasks and plan accordingly. Aim to tackle more demanding tasks when your energy levels are at their peak, typically in the morning. Save routine tasks for later in the day when you may feel more fatigued and prone to distraction.

Once you’ve planned out your day, establish realistic deadlines for your tasks. When you set a deadline, you’re essentially making a commitment to yourself to complete a task by a specific time—a sort of finish line for your own race, providing a goal to strive for.

Assigning a deadline to a task activates your brain and instills a sense of urgency. It’s not merely about rushing; it’s about clarity. Knowing that a task must be completed by a set date, like next Friday, makes it non-negotiable.

Let’s approach this intelligently. Break down significant, intimidating tasks into smaller steps, each with its own mini-deadline. This approach transforms the daunting challenge into a manageable journey, providing a map with footholds and rest stops along the way.

So, don’t hesitate to set those deadlines. Make them tangible, write them down, and observe how they pave the way for you—a path where things actually get accomplished.

In addition to planning your day and establishing deadlines, arranging both your physical workspace and digital environment can eliminate distractions and minimize the time spent searching for materials or information. While some individuals may manage to work effectively in a cluttered setting, possessing strong organizational skills can contribute to stress reduction and enhanced productivity.

7- Use tools and applications to manage your time 

In the fast-paced world we live in, managing our time effectively is crucial to maintain productivity and reduce stress. Thankfully, advancements in technology have provided us with valuable tools to streamline our schedules and boost efficiency.

Time management apps like Rescuetime offer a centralized space to organize tasks and track time dedicated to different activities. Rescuetime’s Focus Session mode is particularly beneficial, allowing users to minimize distractions and monitor their work effectiveness.

Similarly, time tracking apps like Everhour and Toggl Track provide insights into task-specific time allocation, offering a clear understanding of time usage for improved productivity.

For team collaboration, tools like Fellow prove to be invaluable. Fellow facilitates organization and progress tracking through its Objectives feature, linking objectives within team meetings to review progress and address challenges. It simplifies the management of action items, allowing users to prioritize tasks efficiently and sync them with popular platforms like Jira, Asana, and Zapier.

Moreover, a variety of tools emphasize the importance of time management. Calendars and planners, form the backbone of effective planning. Note-taking software like Evernote and OneNote aids in project planning, while time tracking tools such as Pomodario and StayFocused assist in building productive habits. Goal-oriented to-do list apps like Remember That and 2Do contribute to a more organized work routine.

Maintaining a well-organized schedule is essential to prevent last-minute surprises. Creating a comprehensive calendar with upcoming deadlines, exams, social events, and other commitments is key. Digital calendar options like Google Calendar, Outlook Calendar, Fantastical, and Calendly offer flexibility, ensuring you stay informed daily.

Choosing the right organizational tools is a personal preference, whether it’s physical planners like Papier and Moleskine or digital platforms like Asana and Trello. Planners provide a comprehensive overview of long-term deadlines, while scheduling tools help manage jam-packed days efficiently.

8- Group Similar Tasks together

Batching involves grouping similar tasks together and completing them consecutively. It’s akin to consolidating your weekly grocery shopping into a single trip instead of making daily visits to the store.

Instead of transitioning between different types of tasks and disrupting your flow, you gather similar to-dos and address them in one continuous effort. It’s comparable to establishing a mini assembly line in your day.

This approach maintains your momentum and prevents you from squandering time by switching mental gears for each task.

For example, depending on your job, you can categorize your responsibilities as:

• Writing
• Coaching
• Workshop development
• Business development
• Administrative tasks

Each of these constitutes its own batch. When you are immersed in writing, focus solely on that—no emails, no calls, just words. During coaching sessions, it’s an exclusive commitment—no spreadsheets or PowerPoint, just people.

By consolidating similar tasks, you optimize your workflow like a pro, saving time and sparing your brain from the strain of constant transitions.

Consider creating designated chunks of time for specific activities, such as answering emails, making phone calls, or filing. Rather than responding to emails and messages as they come in, which can be a major distraction, allocate focused time for these tasks. To further enhance concentration, turn off phone and email notifications, eliminating the temptation to check them at unscheduled intervals.

For instance, gather all email-related activities during one batch, dedicate another batch to phone calls, and yet another for filing tasks. This method not only streamlines your workflow but also minimizes context switching, allowing you to dive deeply into specific types of work without constantly shifting your focus.

9- Stop procrastinating

Procrastination often involves delaying or postponing tasks, whether it’s putting off work on a new project or delaying a visit to your grandmother. By procrastinating, you’re essentially wasting time through these delays. It’s crucial not to ignore your procrastination habits, as they can increase the risk of chronic procrastination, which is something you definitely don’t want in your life.

There are various reasons why people procrastinate, such as thinking they have enough time until they realize the deadline is just around the corner, avoiding unpleasant tasks, feeling overwhelmed with work, being afraid of failure, or worrying about the unknown.

To overcome procrastination, change your attitude toward time. Successful entrepreneurs, like Rosie Guagliardo of InnerBrilliance Coaching, emphasize the importance of changing your awareness of time. Find a mantra or quote about time that resonates with you and repeat it daily to shift your perception.

And here are some more suggestions:

• Avoid assuming you have enough time; make distant deadlines feel more immediate by breaking tasks into smaller sub-tasks with closer deadlines.
• Encourage yourself to tackle unpleasant tasks by setting a short, focused period to power through them.
• Prevent overwhelm by spreading your workload across more days and different periods in the day, even considering working in the evenings.
• Overcome the fear of failure by redefining goals and lowering expectations to prioritize learning over success at any cost.
• Lessen the fear of the unknown by visualizing obstacles and creating a list of potential problems, making the work process less daunting and more manageable.

In conclusion, the key to maximizing your productivity lies in mastering effective time management. Recognizing that time is a limited resource, commit yourself to the continuous refinement of these skills. With unwavering self-discipline and dedication, the implementation of these strategies will not only enhance your personal efficiency but also empower your team to accomplish goals more effectively. Make every hour count, and watch as your days become more productive and fulfilling.


  1. Miro
  2. NovoResume
  3. LifeHack
  4. LucidChart
  5. Simplilearn
  6. Fellow
  7. Slack
  8. Clockify
  9. FutureLearn
  10. Coursera
  11. Shutterstock Blog
  12. My Hours
  13. Harward Summer School