How to Manage Your Time When Nothing Else Works

Feel like you’re not getting enough done? Time management can be pretty hard- especially with today’s distractions like social media and emails. Here are five time management strategies to try if what you’re normally told to do doesn’t work.

Audit Yourself

To understand where your time is going, try keeping track of how you’re spending it. For a few days, at 15-minute, 30-minute or even hour-long intervals, take note of where your time is going. Whether it’s accomplishing something, procrastinating with Facebook or even relaxing, take note of it. This way, you’ll be able to understand what is keeping you from getting most things done and plan an appropriate course of action.

Don’t Underestimate

Underestimating tasks is a common pitfall. It can often leave us frustrated when we can’t get everything done in as little time we planned. Think of the time you thought that email would take just five minutes to write when it took 30 minutes instead and how this set all your other scheduled tasks back. To avoid this, alongside each task on any to-do list you have, give yourself some extra time. For example, if you feel a task will take 30 minutes to complete, block off an hour to be safe.

Turn Autopilot Off

We spend a lot of time in transit or performing low-functioning tasks. Perhaps it’s waiting for a client meeting, commuting or even getting ready in the morning and eating breakfast. During these times, it’s tempting to switch on auto-pilot and daydream.

Instead of switching off during this ‘dead time’, you could schedule in productive tasks. On a train commute for example, you could read a report, answer your emails or make a phone call. While getting ready in the morning you could listen to an interesting podcast, or even watch videos such as The School of Life or TED Talks. This will not only save you time; it could also put you in a more productive mood throughout the day.

Record and Prioritise

Whether it be via an app, a pocket diary, a calendar or anything else, writing any tasks down could free your memory and allow your mind to focus on each task as it comes. The main thing is to find a planning tool that you can use consistently. By keeping it with you at all times within easy access, you’ll both stay well reminded and have no excuses to get off track.

Once you have your recording device, you could then try using a quadrant system. Tasks there are either urgent (you have to do it now), important (you may not need to do them immediately, but they’re important for your general wellbeing), both or neither. Tasks that are neither can be moved down the priority list whereas those that are both urgent and important may be at the top, followed by urgent and then important.



Sarah Chung

Raised in Hong Kong, now living in New York. A serial optimist, I love finding ways to improve to enjoy life even more.