A to Z – Time Management Made Simple

Karola Karlson |  February 9, 2016 |  Last updated: October 11, 2016

A to Z of time management

If you’re anything like most people, you’ve often found yourself thinking that you’d like to do more, be more, and get rewarded more often.
There is no shortcut to success except for hard work. To be more productive and live in an organized way, see these Golden Rules of productive time planning, the A to Z guide of the best time management tips that will help you get closer to your career and life goals.

Assign Responsibilities

Nobody is capable of achieving all by themselves. Having an efficient team to back you up is paramount to achieving success.


Assign tasks to people who are capable of implementing them efficiently, taking into account their particular abilities. This way you’re able to take some weight off your shoulders and focus on projects that pay off in long term.



Block Distractions

It’s a no-brainer that distractions such as checking social media or reading the latest news are your number one enemies when it comes to efficient time management.


Use website blockers like SelfControl application to block distracting websites for a period of time and complete your tasks faster. Here’s a list of helpful browser extensions that help to beat procrastination and get work done faster.


Tip: Consider scheduling your social media hours into your calendar and spend no more than 2 hours per day on social media, reading online news and shopping.



Calendar and task lists are the oldest and probably still the best methods for remembering all the upcoming duties.


An insightful calendar is irreplaceable when it comes to scheduling your daily tasks. We recently came across a cool website notion.so that is pretty much an empowered version of Evernote. Make sure to check it out!



Deadlines are the alpha and omega of time management. If you haven’t yet done that, set a time limit for each task you need to accomplish by the end of this week.


This way, you avoid lagging in task accomplishment and motivate yourself to work harder. If you have a deadline for a large project, break it up into smaller chunks of time in order to drive yourself through various project steps.


If one short deadline gets crossed, take time to reevaluate your entire project timeline.


Pro time management tip: Set short deadlines of 60-90 minutes for any particular task. After the time’s up, this task must be completed. Do not spend any more time on implementing or reviewing it. This helps you avoid procrastination and focus on the task at hand.
Learn over 100 productivity hacks to be more efficient and advance your career.


Early birds seize the day

At what time do you wake up? Studies have found that people who wake up early are more prone to success.


Just think about it– if you wake up an hour earlier each workday, you’ll get 5 extra hours per week to conquer your goals.


Another great thing about working in the morning is that it’s most likely the most productive time of your day. Start your day with executing the most unpleasant and demanding task is your to-do list.


As Brian Tracy put it – eat that frog. What he meant is that whenever we complete the most troublesome task first, other activities will seem pleasant and agreeable compared to it.

A to Z of time management

File the agenda

Whether you’re going to a lunch with a future partner or meeting up with your co-workers, the key to an efficient encounter is setting an agenda of topics you plan to discuss. This way, you’re less likely to get carried away with irrelevant issues.
Create a natural flow of discussion that covers all the important issues you wish to examine. Apply the same technique to all daily activities – establish a clear vision of how you’re going to achieve a task or spend your evening.


Goals, goals, goals…


You wouldn’t go on a journey without a destination, would you? Without a clear goal, your journey as well as your team’s work is highly inefficient.


Ask yourself what it is that you wish to accomplish and set clear objectives and goals to arrange outcomes you’ve been anticipating. Set one big goal and divide it into smaller ones – a great way to increase motivation and the feeling of fulfilment after finishing another task in line.


These keywords define SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time- bound.
Read on: How to Save Time at Work by Making Small Changes [Infographic]

Have regular evaluations


A good way to perceive the performance efficiency is to evaluate frequently your achievements.
Monitor not only weekly and monthly results but also long-term objectives. And in addition to vocational and financial success also measure your personal growth.
Use the perspectives of David Allen’s Six level model for reviewing your achievements:
50,000 + feet: life (why do you exist?)
40,000 feet: 3-5 year vision
30,000 feet: 1-2 year personal goals
20,000 feet: areas of responsibility, work, relationships
10,000 feet: last month’s projects
Runway: current actions, today’s focus

Interrupt failure

If a task you’ve been working on returns poor results, you should consider reevaluating the entire workflow. Or abandon it for good.
A widely made mistake is to continue implementing a failing plan just because you have already spent a tremendous amount of time on it.


Human psychology is highly inefficient in recognizing a sunk cost and moving on to a more favorable way of achieving a goal. The more time you continue implementing a failing task, the more time you’ll lose.


Think about the alternative cost of every task – what else could be done with the same amount of time? If there are alternative activities that return higher results, you should probably spend your time working on those projects instead.


Jog the memory

No matter how much you trust your memory and other people’s judgment, it is wise to frequently highlight upcoming deadlines and recall the goals of all your ongoing projects.
Before you start to work on a task or project with a larger team, ensure that everybody is on the same page with you. Include reminders to your time management routine that help you remember meetings and important tasks or notice when any deadlines are close to becoming overdue.
Time Management Guide

Know yourself

To effectively organize your time, you have to recognize your strong and weak spots and construct a time management program that suits you the best. For example if you’re most productive during the evening hours, stay up longer and wake up later in the morning.


If you’re leading a company, it is of utmost importance that you also understand the strengths and weaknesses of your team. Take time to meet with managers and employees at least once a week and discuss your ideas and recent achievements.


This enables you to get a quick overview without the need for meeting every single team member. The next time you need to assign tasks, you’re able to rely on the knowledge of people’s strengths. Furthermore, if someone is struggling with a complicated task, you might be able to find the solution together.


Learn 6 Science-proven techniques to increase productivity at work.

Learn to be patient

There are tasks that can be completed within a day or two and there are assignments that require continuous effort for weeks.


Although you may be tempted to bail out, remember that it is the continuous work that feels the best at harvest. To keep yourself on track, conduct frequent evaluations and remind yourself of the long-term goals.


You may ask how does this relate to time management. In fact, it’s immensely important that your team is focused on a clear goal and recognizes the work of others.
Start with yourself. Praise your friends and team members for their great achievements and encourage them to explore their ideas even further. As they say – great leaders inspire action.
Need some motivation yourself? Give yourself a little prize each time a demanding task is finished – go to a movie, treat yourself to a new tech gadget or take a friend to lunch.


Next-day scheduling


This is one of the key techniques of proactive working – instead of waiting for tasks to come your way and solving them reactively, make your own rules.
Proactive working mode ignores small distractions and focuses on achieving bigger long-term tasks.
Write down 3 to 5 priority tasks for the next day so that you can start your day with clear objectives, knowing what to do next.



The it-word of modern business management, outsourcing is a great way to gain extra workers to assist with your tasks and activities.
Look for high-standard third party services that can deliver on time and work for a reasonable budget. There are numerous sources for finding freelancers or agencies to help you with different projects such as Upwork and Outsource.




Not all tasks in your workflow have the same importance to achieving long-term goals. Neither do they return equally high benefits.


List all of your tasks beginning from the most urgent and important ones, leaving the tasks of lower priority to the bottom of your to-do list.


In his book How Do You Eat An Elephant? One Bite at a Time, author Bill Hogan suggests a great method for dealing with huge tasks and projects. Instead of procrastinating because you’ve no idea where to begin, break the elephant (task) into smaller pieces that you’re capable of swallowing (implementing).


Quit multitasking

Texting while walking and checking your e-mail during a meeting is not multitasking but task-switching. Moving back and forward between different tasks kills productivity and slows your workflow. Concentrate on one task at a time, it will make you more productive.


There are even studies that show how multitasking damages our brains and destroys careers. Focusing on multiple activities at once diminishes our attention to detail and have a destructive effect to being organized.
Time Management Guide


Return on investment (ROI) is a great method for evaluating whether the resources and time spent on a task brings the anticipated benefit.


Do not calculate ROI of every little activity but analyze the outcomes of large projects. If you’re working on many projects, you should start measuring project KPIs that reflect on your project performance.


Schedule your meetings, lunches, breaks and also your leisure time.


This may develop into a kind of love-hate relationship with your future self, but if you think about the quality time you saved thanks to scheduling your day, it is well worth the effort.


Choose the level of organization that works best for you, leaving hourly breaks in your daily schedule for whatever comes to mind.


Schedule your activities with various color categories according to how much benefits and results they return. If an inarguably important activity you have not planned for the day needs to be executed at a short notice, you can replace it with a less important task in the schedule.


Some of you probably scrolled right down to X to see what we’ve come up with. Instead, we’d like to hear your ideas. Leave your suggestion for letter X in the comment section.

Track time

There are many great time tracking tools. Monitoring the time spent on different tasks helps you review the work of your team. Take your teamwork to a whole new level with team management software that lets you schedule, track and monitor your work and the time spent.


Take 15 minutes each week to review your own time consumption. Taking into account this information, plan your next week, trying to leave less time for inefficient activities.

Use the right tools

A lot of time gets wasted on working with inefficient tools. No time management program can help you if you’re working with outdated tools and software.


See the list of online productivity tools that save time.

Value your time

Your time is your greatest asset. No money can buy you more time so spend it wisely.
Invest your time in something that gives you a feeling of fulfilment like implementing a new task at work or spending quality time with your friends and family.
Avoid overworking and spend at least one day each week without opening your email and ignoring irrelevant work responsibilities.

Work smart, not fast

No matter how huge a workload lies ahead, hurrying and being sloppy is not a solution.
Instead rely on a precise time management system you’ve created yourself. Be it a daily routine, a way of communicating tasks to others or scheduling meetings, knowing what works best for you is the key to productivity.
Automate some of your daily tasks like sending e-mails or posting to your Facebook fan page. And once again – consider delegating tasks to your team members.
Eliminate duties and activities that yield poor results from your daily routine and replace them with alternatives that return higher results.

Also, learn to work smart, not hard. While it might seem like a good idea to do 12-hour workdays, it will make you less productive in the long term. See the research-supported guide to working smarter

You will succeed because most people are lazy – Shahir Zag

This is true in every industry. The leaders of today did not spend their time on social media but worked hard to achieve their goals.
Make a list of your daily, weekly and monthly tasks and do not fail to meet deadlines. Hard work may not show immediate results, but you will see the long term benefits.
The laziness also creeps to reviewing and evaluating your goals and achievements. Although it takes time, frequent analysis will help you optimize your working techniques and manage your time more efficiently.


great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective.
Be who you are and do what you love. Motivation is one of the best triggers of successful business management and a key to success.


20/80 Rule – Pareto Principle


Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto came up with a principle that 20% of our activities account for 80% of our results.


This rule can also be applied to other facets of life and business, eg. 20% of a company’s customers will account for 80% of its sales.


The important thing Pareto tried to tell us is that there are always more beneficial tasks and alternatives of time use in our task lists. If you can discover what these tasks are, implement them first in line.


Time management is a highly personal matter, and not all techniques work for everyone. Try multiple productivity tips to find out which ones work the best for you. 
If you’ve found an excellent technique for efficient time management, feel free to share it in the comments section.

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