8 Timeless Time Management Strategies

These time management strategies have the potential to get the right things done and motivate every procrastinator. Finding the right strategies that work best for you depends on your personality and self-discipline.

Here we provide you with 8 timeless time management strategies that you can incorporate into your life. These include:

  1. Strategies to get the right things done
  2. Having a planning tool to capture your tasks
  3. Budgeting how you spend your time
  4. Organizing tips to take control of your workflow
  5. Scheduling strategies to increase productivity
  6. The art of successful delegation
  7. The 4D approach to paper and email
  8. Strategies to say No

1. It's not just about getting things done but getting the right things done

If I was to freeze you in time and you were the average worker you would have over 300 hours of unfinished work to do. In simple terms this means that many of us have too much to do and not enough time.

Thus the need for prioritization is critical for high productivity. To prioritize effectively it is important to know the difference between urgent and important, as the the most urgent are not necessarily the most important (MacKenzie, 1990).

The problem is that just because a deadline is due tomorrow we usually do this first at the expense of what is most important. While we don’t have much choice about important and urgent requests (as they have to be done NOW) we do have a choice about those things that are urgent but perhaps not important.

High performers make sure that they focus on those things that are most important. These are those Pareto activities (i.e. 20% of activities that generate 80% of performance).

80 20 rule

What are your 20 80 activities that give you the greatest return on your investment of time?

2. Have a planning tool that captures your tasks

Whether you use an electronic planner or a paper planner, experts agree that a planning tool is one of those time management strategies you can't do without.


Because a planning tool enables you to develop a laser-like focus. By writing down the things that you have to do, rather than keeping them in your head, allows you to focus on that task that you are doing now. The question is not whether you should have a planning tool but finding the right  planning tool.

For short term planning you really want a weekly planner rather than a daily to do list. This weekly planner needs to be informed by longer term goals which I talk about in these time management exercises. This weekly planner is easily adapted into an electronic planner in Outlook, Lotus Notes, or Achieve Planner.

When you find the right planning tool then chain it to you so that it never leaves your side.

3. Know how you spend your time

It is hard to get better at time management if you don’t know how you spend your time. This makes a time management log one of those essential time management strategies to diagnose where a time management problem may exist.

time management log

By keeping a time management log for one week you

  • get a clear idea of what your time thieves are,
  • get objective data on much time you spend in different areas of your life, and
  • are able to set specific time management goals.

I recommend when you do a time management log that you try these time management activities.

4. Organize yourself to reduce stress and increase efficiency

Of the 8 time management strategies, this one can give you a quick win in reclaiming lost time and also giving a sense of control. Does your desk resemble a mountain of papers? Do you spend time trying to find things?

The average worker spends up to 45 minutes per day looking for things they already have. Now I am sure that you have better things to do with your time than ferret through all your papers, soft files, and emails.

There are a number of steps to getting organized. But the first step is to declutter! At the home use the FAST principle to declutter. At work start with your desk and use these strategies to organize your desk and office space.

5. Chunk your time and protect your prime time

This is one of those time management strategies that separates the super productive from the average performers are the way that they schedule their time.

Scheduling time is more than just making meetings and appointments; it is about ensuring that you get the most important things in your life and work done.

Your time management log will tell you where you are most productive. It is at this time that you want to protect your time for those things that are most important to your work or life. One approach to scheduling is time ensure that you get your big big rocks into your time management schedule.

6. Delegation - one of the most talked about time management strategies

Delegation is one of the most talked about yet underutilized of the 8 time management strategies. Delegation is the assignment of duties to another person. Good delegation is critical for those with too much to do and not enough time.

Good delegation involves:

  • proper selection of the task,
  • proper selection of the person,
  • and regular check-ins on task progress.

It is also important for delegation to involve open communication about what could be improved and also rewarding a job well done (Dodd & Sundheim, 2005).

7. Practice the 4D's

I love the one touch principle which can be readily applied to email or any other work flow. As you develop a plan for each week you need to decide how to allocate tasks across the days. Practicing the 4 D's can be a useful way to manage your time.

Do it. This task needs to be done. It's important and urgent and is in quadrant 1 of the time management matrix.

Delegate it. Delegation is one of the most talked about yet underused time management techniques. If done well, delegation allows you to potentially train others and free up your time for more important tasks. If done badly it can increase burnout, absenteeism and reduce work morale.

Dump it. This task is not important. These types of tasks are likely to have been on your to do list a few days and are not likely to be done.

Defer it. Do this with a task that needs to be done but does not need to be done today. The danger of deferring important things is that they will become urgent - this can increase your stress. Make sure that you are using a planning tool that schedules or reminds you when it needs to be done.

8. Learn to say No

Do you have difficulty saying "No"?

If so, then you are not the only one. As a time management coach I often teach others to protect their time to do their most important things, however, they also need to walk the fine line between relationships and tasks.

The other difficulty with saying No is that we want to be seen to get things done. While people may love your motivation and enthusiasm, the cost is that you can end up doing other people's priorities and leaving yourself frazzled and run down.

Learning to say NO allows you to spend your time on activities that reflect your values and priorities, not someone else's priorities.

Practice being assertive. It is difficult to be firm in saying "No" and I have learn't not to be too over-apologetic.

I have a habit of saying "Yes" without contemplating the consequences, so I have also found it useful to delay my response by simply stating "I don't know. I will have to get back to you." However, when doing this, try not to raise the expectations of the other as this only disappoints them when you eventually say "No."

If you liked time management strategies then you may also like these time management techniques.

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