Most people wish they had more time for fun, relaxation, and enjoying their favorite activities. While you can’t get more time, you can make changes in how you spend it. Implementing effective time management techniques in your life can help simplify your routine, allowing you to accomplish more and get that work done better.  

Busy people often struggle with maintaining health and fitness routines. Finding time to prepare healthy meals and exercise can feel impossible when you are juggling higher education, employment, parenting, and other responsibilities. Many people find that good time management techniques enable them to make time for what matters most, especially health.


Time Management FAQ


1. What Is Time Management?

Time management is the way that you manage and allocate your time. Time management techniques are used by highly productive and successful people to focus on tasks that bring them toward achieving their goals.

 

2. Why Is Time Management Important?

Time is limited. There are only 24 hours in a day, so you need to decide how you will allocate your time. Work, family responsibilities, and a myriad of other activities can make significant demands on your time.  Learning and implementing a few effective time management techniques can help you make space for what is most important, such as a big project at work, specific tasks, and changing your health and fitness routines.

 

3. How Would Time Management Benefit Health And Exercise?

Finding time to exercise is a challenge for busy people. If regular exercise is important to you, time management techniques can help you get more done and make time to get to the gym, a fitness class, or go for a run after work.

 

4. What Are Time Management Techniques?  

Time management techniques are set rules, principles, and skills that help you focus on what is most important to improve productivity and get more done. These are basic rules that you can apply to your life to accomplish your goals, such as advancing in your career, making time for family, or committing to making improvements in your health and exercise routine.

 

How We Reviewed

In order to come up with a list of the most effective time management techniques, we researched a variety of ways to increase productivity, focus, and manage time effectively. We considered several time management techniques that are used by some of the world’s most productive and successful people.

 

What We Reviewed


  • Prioritize Tasks
  • Follow Pareto’s Principle
  • Learn to Say No
  • Stop Procrastinating
  • Make Goals
  • Organization
  • Outsource
  • Avoid Distractions
  • Employ Time Constraints
  • Take Fewer Meetings

Prioritize Your Tasks

to do list

Description

Prioritizing the tasks you accomplish each day is one of the most essential time management techniques. When making these decisions, prioritize the tasks that actually move you in the direction of your goals, such as an important career goal, health goals, or making exercise and fitness a priority.

 

The best way to start is by making a master list of all your tasks. These don’t need to be in any particular order at first: just list them as they come to mind. Once you have a complete list of everything you want to get done, identify the tasks that are important or urgent. This allows you to determine the tasks that are most urgent or important, so you can assess the value of the tasks. Go back to your original list and assign a time that you estimate it will take to complete that task. Then you can accomplish tasks in order of priority and provide time in your schedule to get them done.

PROS

  • Helps manage time effectively 
  • Allows you to consider the value and importance of tasks
  • Enables you to complete the tasks that are most urgent and purge those that aren’t

CONS

  • Assigning value and urgency is difficult for many people
  • Estimated time to complete tasks may be insufficient
  • Some tasks will need to be purged or delegated

Follow Pareto’s Principle

Pareto Principle

Description

Pareto’s Principle is also known as the 80/20 rule. This states that 80% of results come from 20% of action. This is among the most effective time management techniques for working on tasks that have the greatest impact. Prioritize your tasks to those that bring the most results.

PROS

  • More value from your effort
  • Prioritizes tasks that bring results
  • Allows you to focus on tasks that have the most impact

CONS

  • Something important may be overlooked
  • Be sure to look at the big picture
  • May not align with your long term goals

Learn To Say No

woman holding hand up

Description

No is a complete sentence. Saying YES to every request can be counterproductive and detrimental to reaching your goals. Rather than automatically saying yes (or no), consider whether the request contributes to your own work or moves you in the direction of your goals. Time is a limited resource and you need to take control of yours.

Warren Buffet has a unique method for setting boundaries. The first step is to make a list of your top 25 career goals and then circle the five that are the most important. Eliminate the other goals on the list so you are left with only the most important. Say no to anything that does not contribute to those five goals.

PROS

  • Take control of your agenda
  • Focus on tasks that contribute to your goals
  • Helps to set boundaries 

CONS

  • May cause resentment or hard feelings
  • If you ask for help, you must also give it sometimes
  • Occasionally lending a hand could earn you a favor or improve your reputation

Stop Procrastinating

Stop Procrastinating

Description

Procrastination is a common problem. People procrastinate for a number of reasons. It is common for people to procrastinate when starting a large project or something completely new, even if they have always wanted to do it. Finding a way to stop procrastinating is one of the most important time management techniques to learn.

In Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, David Allen talks about his 2 Minute Rule for beating procrastination. The Two Minute Rule says that anything that can be done in two minutes should be doneimmediately, rather than adding it to your To Do list. If you can’t get it done in two minutes, work on it for that long. When faced with a large, daunting, or intimidating project, working on it for a few short minutes can break the barrier and get you moving.

PROS

  • Motivation to start on big projects
  • Gets small tasks out of the way quickly
  • Movement toward your goals

CONS

  • Just because it can be done quickly doesn’t mean it’s a priority
  • May prioritize short time for completion over importance
  • Doesn’t consider the importance of the tasks for reaching a specific goal

Make Goals

man organizing goals

Description

Making goals is essential in your career and your personal life. Without goals, you may end up wandering aimlessly from one task to the next without ever really getting anywhere. Start by making a list of the big goals that you want to achieve, such as taking the next step in your career or a specific health or exercise goal. Knowing what you are working for can keep you motivated.

PROS

  • Provides a clear direction
  • Helps you focus on what is most important
  • Keeps you moving toward what you want to accomplish  

CONS

  • Big goals can result in procrastination
  • Can be too broad
  • Break down big goals into smaller ones and accomplish those first

Organization

group meeting

Description

Implementing time management techniques requires organization. Disorganization reduces productivity and causes confusion. Start by eliminating clutter and arrange your office so that the items you need most often are easy to access, use workflow management tools, and update your filing system so you can be more productive and reduce time wasted looking for things.

PROS

  • Organization promotes focus
  • Easier to find what you need
  • Workflow and productivity are improved

CONS

  • Avoid wasting time organizing your office
  • Need to maintain organization
  • May inadvertently get rid of something important

Outsource

paper work

Description

Outsourcing is basically designating tasks to another person. This could mean delegating work tasks to an assistant or underling or enlisting more help from family members to complete household tasks. When adopting time management techniques, it is important to keep in mind that you don’t have to do everything.

Tasks that are urgent, but not particularly urgent or essential to your goals need to be done, but you may be able to find someone to complete these tasks for you. You can identify these tasks based on the list you made for prioritizing the things you need to get done. This allows you to focus on the most important work.

PROS

  • Get more done
  • Gives more time for working on most important tasks
  • Enables you to use your time more efficiently

CONS

  • You need to find the right person to handle the tasks
  • Misunderstandings can happen
  • Work may not get done exactly the way you would do it

Avoid Distractions

Avoid Distractions

Description

Distractions are everywhere. Checking emails, browsing social media, news notifications on your phone, and even coworkers can easily distract you from the things that must get done. This can eat away at a significant part of your day, if you let it. When you lose focus, it can take you twice as long to get reoriented and back to work.

You can use a few simple techniques to avoid distractions that suck up your precious time. Start by switching off notifications on your phone, computer, and tablet. Keep your phone in less convenient and easily accessible places to keep you from finding it and getting distracted. If you are distracted by gossip and conversations in the office, you can use headphones to stay focused.

The internet is a huge distraction. You can avoid it by turning of Wi-Fi when working on tasks that don’t require you to be connected to the internet. Stay off social media sites as much as possible. It is easy to get lost for hours, so stay away or designate a short amount of time to it and then get off. You could also use it as a reward, say when you get done with work or browse social media only when you are on the treadmill.

PROS

  • Just thinking about it allows you to identify distractions  
  • Stopping distractions gives you time for the things you want to do
  • More tasks will be accomplished

CONS

  • Disconnecting from technology is not always possible
  • Avoiding small talk can leave you out of the loop in some situations
  • Turning off all notifications can result in missing important information

Employ Time Constraints

man working on his laptop

Description

When you assign a specific amount of time to complete a task, you will be more productive. Reducing the amount of time allocated to complete a task forces your brain to focus in order to get the work done in the allotted time period.

This technique works for many different tasks and situations. For example, if you have to check email and this normally takes 20 or 30 minutes, set a time limit that is shorter than the time you typically spend on that task. You may want to allow 10 or 15 minutes for the task. Set a timer for the estimated time and see if you can beat it. Limiting the time you have to get something done helps you focus on the task.

PROS

  • Increased productivity
  • Get more accomplished
  • Helps you stick to a schedule

CONS

  • May not leave enough time to get things done
  • Failing to “beat” the time you allotted can be disheartening
  • Rushing can reduce quality of work

Take Fewer Meetings

meeting

Description

Meetings are one of the most complained about aspects of the workplace. In reality, most meetings are not necessary. When you have fewer meetings, but make them more productive, everyone will get more done. Communicating through email can be a more effective way to communicate information in less time.

When a meeting is needed, you can make them more productive by limiting the time and number of participants. Send an agenda with the main points to be covered at the meeting in advance and work to keep people on track during the meeting by sticking to a time limit.

PROS

  • More time for important tasks  
  • Meeting you do have are more productive
  • Meetings are often not needed

CONS

  • Some meetings can’t be avoided
  • People may miss email communications
  • Sticking to a time limit can be difficult, especially if there are too many participants


The Verdict

The best time management techniques depend on the situation, goals, and tasks that need to be completed. Although implementing even one of these techniques can make a big difference, it is unlikely that one method will work for everyone. You may find that using a combination of several of these techniques helps you reach your goal of sticking to your health and exercise routine.