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Work Smarter, Not Harder: 5 Essential Time Management Strategies for Everyone


"Time is what we want most, but what we use worst." - William Penn



If you are often feeling overwhelmed, stressed out and anxious about getting it 'all' done.... you, my friend, are not alone.


The near constant squeeze on your time leads to spinning on all the things you need to do, creating endless lists (if you are a List-Girl like me 💃), feeling rushed, guilty, resentful and/or irritated, negative self-talk rabbit holes, staying up or at the office too late, and then ultimately, not even getting it all done!


There is a better way.


Check out the 5 strategies below -plus a bonus one! - that will immediately help you embrace a new perspective on what time management can mean in your life and effective strategies to help you make better use of your 24 hours each day.



 

#1: A Simple Mindset Shift



 

This simple mindset shift will help you maintain perspective, and remind you that you're in charge of where and how you spend your time.


You can then respond, rather than react to the busy-ness that seems to be inherent in modern life.


When you're feeling overwhelmed, remind yourself,

"Breathe, there is plenty of time for what's important"


Notice! There's not time for everything. Not by a long shot.


There's maybe not time for mindless social media scrolling, television watching, the super long workout, the two hour lunch break, online shopping, and any number of ways we waste time etc...


But there is time for what's important.


First figure out what that is - then you can more effectively implement the strategies that follow.



 

#2: The Eisenhower Matrix


 

Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important” - Stephen R. Covey



This strategy, associated with President Eisenhower and popularized by Stephen Covey in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, will help you prioritize tasks based on their urgency and importance.


Covey highlights that we mis-manage our time, spending too much of it reacting to urgent matters and doing things that are not really important.


In effect, we have less time to do things that are important, but not urgent - which is exactly where we want to spend it.


THIS POST includes more detail!


First, list out all of your tasks, and then group them as follows:


1. Urgent and Important (Do First):

  • Tasks that need immediate attention and are crucial

  • Prioritize them, allocate time, and complete them as soon as possible.

2. Not Urgent but Important (Schedule):

  • Tasks that are important for your long-term goals.

  • Schedule specific times to work on them regularly to prevent them from becoming urgent.

3. Urgent but Not Important (Delegate or Limit):

  • Tasks that are urgent but don't contribute meaningfully to your goals

  • Delegate or limit your involvement whenever possible.

4. Not Urgent and Not Important (Eliminate):

  • Tasks that are neither urgent nor important.

  • Eliminate them to free up time and mental energy.

  • See #7 below 😉


Related.... Pareto's Principle which suggests that 20% of your efforts lead to 80% of the results. Another vote for identifying and dedicating more time and focus on the most impactful (important) tasks.

 


#3: GETMO

(Good Enough To Move On)


 

"Perfection is the enemy of progress". - Winston Churchill


Sometimes, we get to accept that while it's not perfect, it is good enough.


For example, when you want to:


  • Scrap dinner because you burned the cheese or forgot to add the spinach

  • Cringe at your children leaving the house without brushing their hair or with two different shoes on 🤷‍♀️

  • Fix that one piece of hair that isn't falling quite right and your husband is gently encouraging you to HURRY UP!! from downstairs because WE HAVE TO LEAVE!

  • Tweak the work proposal, post, email, or article just one last time

  • Endlessly rearrange the furniture, picture frames, glasses etc...


Everything in this world does not need to be - and will never be - exactly 100% perfect.

The sooner we get on board with that, the more we'll enjoy the time we create by not obsessing over things that in the end don't really matter all that much.


Figure out what those things are and then remind yourself... GETMO.


 

#4: Pomodoro Technique



 


Tried and true, the Pomodoro Technique boosts productivity by breaking work into focused intervals (typically 25 minutes) followed by short breaks (typically 5 minutes).


It's a great strategy for enhancing concentration for complex tasks and if you are feeling burned out from endless hours of work.


Pomodoro's are perfect for studying, cleaning your closets/drawers, chores, breaking down big projects into smaller pomodoros, skill building, brainstorming etc...


Make sure you really take the break though! Get up, walk around etc...


So straightforward, and you just need a timer to get started.



 


#5: Eliminate Distractions

"Don't let the trivial distract you from the significant. Eliminating distractions is the first step towards meaningful, focused work." - Cal Newport

 

We are bombarded with distractions in our daily lives from the second we wake up and check our phone, to the constant chimes of texts and emails, to alerts and notifications of incoming (often non-important and non-urgent matters), to our own racing brains that can't focus for more than a few seconds.


Of course we need more quiet in our lives, and in general a slow down is likely in order, but in the meantime, we can limit the sheer number of distractions we allow into our lives.


Reducing distractions increases focus and productivity, helping you complete tasks more efficiently.


Try some of these strategies to reduce distractions:


  1. Create a quiet area as your dedicated workspace

  2. Use noise-canceling headphones (especially if #1 isn't an option)

  3. Turn off notifications and alerts on your devices - 100% MUST DO

  4. Use the Focus option on your phone - my FAV ❤️

  5. Limit social media - take the apps off your home screen ✔️

  6. Utilize Time Blocking: Allocate specific time blocks for focused work, meetings, breaks, and activities 💡

  7. Batch Tasks: Group similar tasks together - all your meetings on Wednesdays and Fridays, responding to emails for 30 minutes after lunch, focused work on your most important project each morning for 90 minutes etc... This is HUGE 💡

  8. Slow it down - remind yourself you don't always need to be doing/looking at/reading/learning/consuming something

  9. Minimize multitasking - you're not as good at it as you think you are 😉

  10. Eliminate unnecessary meetings whenever possible

  11. Set, communicate, and stick to boundaries

  12. Establish a routine - include designated work and leisure time Automating with a routine (bedtime, arrive at work, morning, workout etc...) is a BIG time saver


Bonus!! Read the book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport which emphasizes the importance of focused, undistracted work in an age of constant connectivity. It's a great Audible listen too.



 

BONUS TIP!! Learn to Say No


 

If this is you making decisions on a day to day basis...



First of all... I FEEL YOU!!


And also, this rule is for you (and me!).


It's ok to say no.


Our inner people pleasers want to say Yes to literally everything:

  • Bake 1,000 cookies for the school festival? My pleasure!

  • Drive that random relative to and from the airport...during rush hour? I'd love to!

  • Attend the party for your neighbor's, friend's, cousin's cat? Wouldn't miss it!

  • Organize that complex and time-consuming project at work... pro bono? Absolutely!

  • Join the 3 hour (useless and waste of time) meeting? What time should I be there!


But guess what? Then you don't have time for yourself, or for what's actually important because you're out picking up 43 kids in the carpool.


Here are two simple steps to make saying No easier (because it's Hard AF for me too.....)


✨ Step #1: Know your priorities and goals. The clearer these are in your mind (and bonus if they're written on paper!), the easier it will be to determine your boundaries.


✨ Step #2: Politely decline anything that is non-essential. Have a standard reply in your back pocket (one that doesn't feel icky or disingenuous because then you won't use it)


Here are some Go-To's for you:

  • I appreciate the offer, but I have to decline

  • Thank you for considering me, but I can't commit to this right now

  • I'm afraid I can't fit this into my schedule at the moment


HINT! Please resist the urge to say anymore, to qualify how you're spending your time, or to explain yourself further. Leave. It. At. That.


See, that's not so hard, right?


 

Your TL; DR


PS - I actually had to google what this meant the other day and now that I know, I want to use it everywhere, even in places where it makes no sense 💃


(Too Long; Didn't Read btw - now we are all together in this century!!)


  1. Mindset Shift: "There is plenty of time for what's important"

  2. Eisenhower Matrix (Urgent vs Important)

  3. GETMO (Good Enough To Move On)

  4. Pomodoro Technique (25 min focused work, 5 min break)

  5. Eliminate Distractions

Bonus! Learn to Say No

Comment below your favorites! Any others we should know about?

Written with plenty of time to spare ;)


Carolyn

xo



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