3 Time Management Tips That Actually Work

written by JAMES CLEAR

Time management can be tough. What is urgent in your life and what is important to your life are often very different things.

This is especially true with your health, where the important issues almost never seem urgent even though your life ultimately hangs in the balance.

  • No, going to the gym today isn’t urgent, but it is important for your long–term health.
  • No, you won’t die from stress today, but if you don’t get it figured out soon, you might.
  • No, eating real, unprocessed foods isn’t required for you to stay alive right now, but will reduce your risk of cancer and disease.

Is there anything we can do? If we all have 24 hours in a day, how do we actually use them more effectively?

And most importantly, how can we manage our time to live healthier and happier, do the things that we know are important, and still handle the responsibilities that are urgent?

I’m battling with that answer just like you are, but in my experience there are three time management tips that actually work in real life and will help you improve your health and productivity.

Time management tips

1. Eliminate half-work at all costs.

In our age of constant distraction, it’s stupidly easy to split our attention between what we should be doing and what society bombards us with. Usually we’re balancing the needs of messages, emails, and to-do lists at the same time that we are trying to get something accomplished. It’s rare that we are fully engaged in the task at hand.

I call this division of your time and energy “half-work.”

Here are some examples of half-work…

  • You start writing a report, but stop randomly to check your phone for no reason or to open up Facebook or Twitter.
  • You try out a new workout routine. Two days later, you read about another “new” fitness program and try a little bit of that. You make little progress in either program and so you start searching for something better.
  • Your mind wanders to your email inbox while you’re on the phone with someone.

Regardless of where and how you fall into the trap of half-work, the result is always the same: you’re never fully engaged in the task at hand, you rarely commit to a task for extended periods of time, and it takes you twice as long to accomplish half as much.

Half-work is reason why you’re able to get more done on your last day before vacation (when you really focus) than you do in the 2 weeks previous (when you’re constantly distracted).

Like most people, I deal with this problem all of the time and the best way I’ve found to overcome it is to block out significant time to focus on one project and eliminate everything else.

I pick one exercise and make it my only focus for the entire workout. (i.e. “Today is just for squats. Anything else is extra.”)

I carve out a few hours (or even an entire work day) to deep dive on an important project. I’ll leave my phone in another room and shut down my email, Facebook, and Twitter.

This complete elimination of distractions is the only way I know to get into deep, focused work and avoid fragmented sessions where you’re merely doing half-work.

How much more could you achieve if you did the work you needed to do, the way you needed to do it, and eliminated the half-work, half-wandering that we fill most of our days with?

2. Do the most important thing first.

Disorder and chaos tend to increase as your day goes on. At the same time, the decisions and choices that you make throughout the day tend to drain your willpower. You’re less likely to make a good decision at the end of the day than you are at the beginning.

I’ve found that this same trend holds true in my workouts as well. As the workout progresses, I have less and less willpower to finish sets, grind out reps, and perform difficult exercises.

For all of those reasons, I do my best to make sure that if there is something important that I need to do, then I do it first.

If I have an important article to write, I grab a glass of water and start typing as soon as I wake up. If there is a tough exercise that I need to do, then I do it at the beginning of each workout.

If you do the most important thing first, then you’ll never have a day when you didn’t get something important done. By following this simple strategy, you will usually end up having a productive day, even if everything doesn’t go to plan. If you actually do the most important thing first each day, it is the only productivity tip you’ll ever need.

3. Reduce the scope, but stick to the schedule.

I’ve written previously about the importance of holding yourself to a schedule and not a deadline. There might be occasions when deadlines make sense, but I’m convinced that when it comes to doing important work over the long–term, following a schedule is much more effective.

When it comes to the day-to-day grind, however, following a schedule is easier said than done. Ask anyone who plans to workout every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and they can tell you how hard it is to actually stick to their schedule every time without fail.

To counteract the unplanned distractions that occur and overcome the tendency to be pulled off track, I’ve made a small shift in how I approach my schedule. My goal is to put the schedule first and not the scope, which is the opposite of how we usually approach our goals.

For example, let’s say you woke up today with the intention of running 3 miles this afternoon. During the day, your schedule got crazy and time started to get away from you. Now you only have 20 minutes to workout.

At this point, you have two options.

The first is to say, “I don’t have enough time to workout today,” and spend the little time you have left working on something else. This is what I would usually have done in the past.

The second option is to reduce the scope, but stick to the schedule. Instead of running 3 miles, you run 1 mile or do five sprints or 30 jumping jacks. But you stick to the schedule and get a workout in no matter what. I have found far more long-term success using the this approach than the first.

On a daily basis, the impact of doing five sprints isn’t that significant, especially when you had planned to run 3 miles. But the cumulative impact of always staying on schedule is huge. No matter what the circumstance and no matter how small the workout, you know you’re going to finish today’s task. That’s how little goals become lifetime habits.

Finish something today, even if the scope is smaller than you anticipated.

Time Management Tips That Actually Work

There are thousands of time management apps and productivity gadgets. You’ll find more calendars, reminders, and task lists than you know what to do with. But in my experience, the most effective and practical time management tips are simple.

When it comes to living a healthy and productive life, I do my best to focus on three time management tips…

  1. Eliminate half-work and focus deeply.
  2. Do the most important thing first.
  3. Stick to your schedule and build the habit, no matter how small the accomplishment.

How have you managed your time better and accomplished more at work, at home, or in the gym? Let us know YOUR Tips!


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10 Time Management Tips for the New Year

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Let’s start 2017 off right!  Here are some great tips I just had to share from MK Coaching….  Enjoy and share your tips!

 10 Time Management Tips

Do you ever get to the end of the day and wonder how you managed to get so little done? You’re not alone. And while you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself for your time management shortcomings, here are 7 ways you can get more done.

  • Make appointments with yourself

If a task or project is important enough to do, it’s important enough to add to your calendar. Get in the habit of calendaring everything, and sticking to those appointments.

You should place as much importance on your appointments with yourself as your doctor places on his or her time. Miss a doctor appointment and you’ll be charged the full fee anyway, and your time is just as valuable, so don’t let yourself get away with broken appointments!

  • Set a timer

No matter what task you’re working on, set a timer—preferably one that makes an audible ticking sound. You might choose a 25-minute time block as recommended by proponents of the Pomodoro Technique, or you can simply set a timer to remind yourself of your next appointment. The psychology is the same no matter which method you choose.

The idea here is that the ticking sound helps keep you on task. It’s a subtle reminder that you’re supposed to be working, so when you’re tempted to wander off to check Facebook, your subconscious will help keep you focused.

  • Take a day off

Have you ever noticed how much more you get done in the last days before vacation? Suddenly you’re super motivated to:

  • Return all those phone calls you’ve been putting off
  • Clean out your email inbox
  • Finish your bookkeeping for the month
  • Get the rest of the month’s blog posts written

And anything else that represents an “open loop” in your life or business.

You can create that same sense of urgency to get things done simply by scheduling a day off. In fact, you may even decide to take this strategy one step further, and take an extra day off each week!

  • Give yourself permission to say no

You’re not responsible for everything, but all too often we feel that we simply cannot say no…to anything.

This is especially true for coaches, because you’re passionate about helping others and you love to give. But if you try to accommodate everyone, you’ll wind up stressed out, overworked, and your time management skills will suffer.

Instead, learn to say no. Say no to the client you don’t want to work with. Say no to the volunteer position you don’t have time for. Say no to another year as treasurer for the PTA. You can (and should) even say no to household chores that don’t have to be done.

After all, no one will be harmed if your living room doesn’t get dusted today. Wouldn’t you rather spend your time working on something that really matters?

  • Take a break

Too much time spent at work can be decidedly UN-productive. When it begins to feel like you’ll never get all your work done, it’s the perfect time to step away from your desk for a quick break.

Go for a walk in the park. Nature has a wonderful way of recharging our batteries.

Play with your kids. They’ll remind you why you do what you do every day.

Read a novel. Paint a picture. Knit a scarf. Just do something other than work. It will improve your perspective and give you more energy to face the rest of your day.

  • Give up control

A leading cause of overwork—especially for “type A” personalities—is the feeling that you must have control over everything. When you mistakenly believe that no one can do your job as well as you can, you’ll take on too much work and ultimately fail to get everything done.

A far better choice is to give up some control and allow others to help.

Does it really matter that the towels aren’t folded precisely as you’d like? Or that a sales page isn’t formatted quite the way you’d have done it?

Probably not. Learn to recognize when good enough really is good enough, and let go of your need to have everything “just so.” You’ll save hours of time that can better be used on other projects.

  • Practice focusing

How many browser tabs do you normally have open while you’re working? Ever listen to a webinar while responding to emails? How about browsing Facebook while writing a blog post?

All these multi-tasking habits (and many others) are massive time-wasters that can turn a 30-minute task into an afternoon of accomplishing next to nothing. While we all like to think we’re good at multi-tasking, the truth is, multi-tasking is really “task switching,” and every time you stop to quickly do something else, you lose your focus. That lost momentum costs you added minutes every time you turn your attention back to the task at hand.

So close all those browser tabs, turn off your webinar, put a block on Facebook, and regain your focus. You’ll be amazed at how much more productive you’ll be.

  • Schedule shorter meetings

No other workday task manages to feel so important while being such a waste of time. Nip these time-sucks in the bud by scheduling only those meetings that must happen, and keeping them to a minimum.

  • Skip the small talk
  • Create an agenda—and stick to it
  • Use email to discuss non-urgent topics

The obvious exception to this rule is your client meetings, but even those can be more productive and maybe even shorter by applying the rules above.

  • Reduce interruptions

Text messages, Skype conversations, email notifications and other “urgent” interruptions will take you out of the moment and add up to hours of lost time over a week.

Make it a habit to turn of your phone, Skype, email and other instant message applications while you’re working. Between tasks, schedule a quick check in if necessary, but don’t allow these interruptions to dictate the course of your day.

  • Work remotely

Always working at your desk can put you firmly in a work rut. Want to get more done? Change it up a bit. You became an entrepreneur to have more freedom, so enjoy it—and get more done in the process.

  • Take your laptop to the library or coffee shop for an afternoon of phone free work.
  • Head to the park on a nice day and let the beauty of nature inspire your product or content creation.
  • Rent an office for one day each week to get away from distractions such as laundry, television and other work-at-home pitfalls.


I read this article from MK Coaching

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