Whether you’re a slacker or a perfectionist, a student, a mom, an employee, or a business owner, you need better time management.

The funny thing is that people think time management is overwhelming. In reality, not managing your time well makes things more stressful than they need to be.

Here are a few ways to make time management work for you and your goals.

 

Set an early deadline

Instead of scheduling in X task for the due date, schedule it in earlier. Aim to get things done 1-3 days before the actual date it’s due.

Let’s you have an important presentation for the 15th of October. Plan to have it done by the 13th of October. That way, you have time to add finishing touches, get feedback, and make improvements.

If your computer crashed, you have time to work on something new. If you have a few typos, you’ll be relaxed enough to spot them. It’s not a matter of if you face a speed bump; it’s a matter of when you will and how you’ll deal with it.

 

Be aware of how often you browse social media

The biggest time management saboteur is social media. We’re not saying you shouldn’t use social media during the day. That’s an unrealistic goal. But try, for one day, logging how many times you check your favorite social media network. You’ll become more aware of how much it eats out of your time.

Even if your job depends on being on social media, make sure you’re scrolling with purpose.

 

Find your time management tool

Technology can be your worst enemy and your best friend.

If you’re always on your phone, that’s where your time management tool needs to be. Try Todoist, Google Calendar, or MeisterTask.

Or, if you’re more of a paper person, schedule your time by hand. Try bullet journals, a passion planner, or even a good old to-do list.

 

Write it down

Once you have something written down, you’re more likely to get it done. Set realistic deadlines and stick to them.

 

Leave empty slots

Time management gets overwhelming when your schedule is jam-packed. Make sure you leave short half hour buffers throughout your work day. That way, you’ll have time to deal with unexpected tasks or other deterrents.

 

Set your clock slightly ahead of schedule

It’s an old trick, but setting your watch a few minutes ahead works at tricking you into doing something on time.

 

Time management doesn’t mean being a robot

Being efficient doesn’t mean being completely absorbed in your work all day. Make sure you’re taking breaks to do something else. Walk to the water cooler. Look out the window. Go for a short walk.

Taking breaks actually make you more efficient. Plus, your eyes will thank you for looking away from a screen.

 

Make time for growth

Don’t fall into the trap of focusing on short-term goals at the expense of long-term goals. Make sure you’re making time for things that matter in the long run. Ultimately, you want to grow your career, improve your skill-set, and support your physical and emotional well-being.

This means saying yes to that all-day workshop on wood carving. It means making time to meet with a mentor or a group of uplifting friends.

It also means saying no to things that you know are a waste of time. If a friend makes you feel bad, don’t see them. If a meeting isn’t necessary, schedule a call instead.

 

Time management is a way to get things done. But it’s also a system for evaluating the actual importance of things you spend your time on.

Time management makes you aware of the times during which you work best and worst. If you work best in the morning, make sure you’re sitting at a desk ready to work at that time. If your focus lags after lunch, use that time to do some light reading and then get back to your tasks at a better time.

Don’t forget to keep your short and long-term goals in mind when you’re planning your days.