4 Effective Time Management Strategies For A Better Life Balance

How to manage the overwhelm and implement effective time management strategies.

First, Let’s Talk Time vs Priority Management

I used to boast that I was really good at “time management”, however, this quote from John C Maxwell has changed my perspective on this skill a bit:

Quote by John C Maxwell that says, "Time Management is an oxymoron. Time is beyond our control, and the clock keeps ticking regardless of how we lead our lives. Priority management is the answer to maximizing the time we have."
They key to effective time management is to have better priority management.

If priority management is really the key to maximizing the time and creating a better life balance then all we need are better resources for prioritizing our day.   There are 3 specific things I do to help me manage my daily/weekly/monthly to-do lists that you can easily implement to better prioritize your life and feel like you’ve gained more time in your day.

Are you wishing you were better at focusing on tasks? Do not pin multiple post it notes to your desk, instead follow the Eisenhower Matrix Technique.
Having your task list jotted down in multiple places like this messy bulletin board will not help you focus or make things happen!

Strategy 1. Make daily task lists using the Eisenhower Principle

Step 1: Either the night before or first thing in the morning, write down (yes, write down, don’t keep it all in your head!) everything you need to get done.

Step 2: Once you’ve listed out all of your tasks, you can then start to prioritize them. It’s good to remind yourself during this step that not everything is important.

For maximum efficiency, I would suggest putting them into categories like the following which is loosely based on the Eisenhower Matrix:

  • Must get done
  • Should get done
  • Could get done/Can be done tomorrow
  • Want to do

Don’t skip that last one! It’s important to build things into your day that you want to do as well as need to do. And sometimes what you want to do and what you must do can be the same thing, which is even better!

Priority management requires you to balance by focusing your tasks into multiple quadrants ranking from important to not important and urgent to not urgent.
Example of how to better prioritize your to-do list using the Eisenhower Matrix Technique

 

Don’t stress yourself out by putting everything in the “must get done” column.

Sometimes we have time constraints and can’t avoid them, such as moving to a new house and needing to clean and pack all day, which means you don’t need to also try to fitting in lunch with a friend, taking your dog to the groomers and talking to your mom for an hour that same day. We’re talking priorities people.

Don’t be afraid to say,  “I don’t have time to do that” or “Is that something I could complete for you tomorrow?” or even, “That doesn’t fit into my priorities at the moment.”

 

Creating a daily (or weekly) task list helps you organize your thoughts, discern what is most important and create boundaries for yourself and those around you.

If you need more details steps on how to follow this technique check out the full post I did on “Creating Task Lists using the Eisenhower Matrix”.  

Use these time management techniques to improve your skills. Being able to decide what is important will help you better prioritize your task list and focus.
The key to creating a better life balance is to define what is important.

Before we move on to the next strategy, let’s talk a bit more on deciding what is and is not important.

But Tayler, everything is important and must be done today! ….. yea probably not.

In discerning your high priority tasks, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Will I lose money if I don’t do this?
  2. Will not completing this task put me behind on a project?
  3. Is this something I could complete tomorrow or later this week?
  4. Does this task/project help me achieve my larger why or purpose?
  5. Have I built in enough time this week for my family/friends/self care?

Everything you decide to do takes away from something else. We all have the same amount of time each day and it feels like we never have enough time to do everything we want. (Check out this post on How To Have Time To Do Everything if you like data and doing math.)

 

Don't be like this girl with a confused look and hands in the air when it comes to prioritizing your tasks. It is possible to improve your time management skills by implementing specific techniques and strategies.
Hopefully you’re starting to feel a little less like this girl and a little more enlightened about the steps to take to improve your time management skills.

 

And if the idea of making decisions purely based on money makes you feel a bit icky, I’m with youbut if you are running a business remember- making money is actually important. If you aren’t making money than how will you continue to help your clients or achieve your business why?

And if these questions don’t resonate with you, come up with your own. There’s no right or wrong answer to prioritizing.

Strategy 2. Use Block Scheduling To Help Manage Your Time

Ok so you’ve made your list and decided on what is most important, now you are ready to create your structure around achieving of your tasks for the day!

For this, I highly recommend using a Block Schedule Technique. 

 

Whether your calendar is on your phone or done by paper and pen, you can use it to improve your time management and create a better work and life balance.
Use your calendar to help keep you focused and improve your productivity each day

 

Block scheduling is where you determine how much time you will spend on each of the tasks you want to complete that day by organizing them into blocks of time.

This helps in a few ways.

  1. Creating boundaries
  2. Dedicating specific amounts of time to focus on different areas of your day
  3. Removing guilt for not working on something else

 

By creating a Block Schedule you are giving yourself permission to focus on the tasks that you’ve decided are most important.

 

Here is an example of what that block scheduling looks like.

Monday:

7-8am: Get ready, eat breakfast, morning mindset/meditation
8-8:15am: Create daily list
8:15- 8:45am: Check emails
8:45-9am: Social Media
9-12pm: Client 1 Project
12-12:30pm: Check Emails
12:30-1:15pm: Lunch
1:15-3 pm: Client 2 Project
3-3:30pm: Emails and/or Social Media
3:30-5pm: Personal Business time (write, blog, watch a webinar, listen to podcast, etc)
5-6pm: Workout
Evening: Dinner, Family/Friends time, etc

Tuesday:

7-8 am: Get ready, Eat breakfast, morning mindset/meditation
8-8:15am: Create daily list
8:15-10am: Client 3 Project
10-11am: Check emails and social media
11-12 pm: Workout
12-2pm: Lunch & Run Errands
2-4:30pm: Client 1 Project
4:30-5pm: Check emails
5-6pm: Personal Business Time
Evening: Dinner, Family/Friends Time, TV, etc

Wednesday:

7-8am: Get ready, eat breakfast, morning mindset/meditation
8-8:15am: Create daily list
8:15- 8:45am: Check emails
8:45-9:15am: Social Media
9:15-11am: Client 2 Project
11-12pm: Personal Business Time
12-1pm: Lunch
1-4:30pm: Catch Up Time (Client Projects, Personal Business, Content Creation, whatever)
4:30-5pm: Respond to emails
5-6pm- Workout
Evening: Dinner, Family/Friends Time, TV, etc

Notice that I’ve built in time for checking emails & social media. One way to be greatly distracted throughout your day is keep your email or facebook up all day, because every time you get a notification you’ll be tempted to check it!

Instead, you should create blocks of time (ie boundaries) for each task, especially the ones that you find most distracting. At the end of the day, you’ll feel more focused and more productive.

When creating your schedule, you can also consider what times of day you work best. Maybe you do your best writing in the evening. Maybe you like working out in the early morning instead of lunchtime/before dinner.

No matter how you decide to break it up, you get to build your schedule around when you are at your best.

And maybe you rotate what you do in those hours. So if your best hours are from 8-12 then maybe on Tuesday and Thursday you schedule that time for your personal business and on M, W, TH you schedule that time for your clients. It’s okay to give yourself your best hours sometimes 😀

 

Don't just keep your ideas in your head! The path to success is taking your ideas and creating a plan and strategy to achieve them.
The next strategy to improving your time management is to batch everything!

Strategy 3. Task Batch Like a Boss!

You’ve got your list, your priorities, your schedule, now it’s time to TAKE ACTION!

You’ve probably heard people talk about task batching and maybe you already found yourself doing this naturally without much thought.

The basic principle of task batching is to do like tasks at the same time. Sounds simple enough, eh?

It sounds simple, but will take some practice. And once you’ve got it down you’ll be BATCHING EVERYTHING!

Why is this important? Well research shows that it can take up to 20 minutes to refocus after being interrupted during a task. Umm that’s a lot of potential time wasted on re-focusing.

For example, let’s say you are a writer and for a single piece of content you complete the following tasks each time.

  • Research
  • Writing out your piece
  • Editing
  • Finding or creating pictures and to add to your post
  • SEOing
  • Scheduling

 

Want to know a little secret? Most creators you see online whether through written word or video, batch their tasks. What?! Tayler, you mean they don’t spend all their time each week creating multiple pieces of content for my consuming pleasure. I mean maybe, but mostly likely no.

Instead, they schedule their time to spend a few days or a week deciding on their content & doing research. Another 2-3 days actually filming or writing. Followed by editing and then strategically marketing and scheduling the content out over the month so that you can receive them in bite size chunks.

 

Now go back to your block schedule that you created? Are you spreading out your like tasks and having to re-focus your energy multiple times a day? Are there things you can set aside to do a couple of days a week instead?

So if you are a writer. Maybe you set aside M, T & TH to be writing & creating days. And W and F to be your days for editing, SEOing, marketing, & picture finding. Of course with those times blocked out in chunks throughout your day 😉 Then when you have a few pieces ready to go you schedule them to be published on different days and if were really good with your time and created correlating social media posts, you can add those into your scheduling block.

 

You need a lot of clocks and timers going off to keep you focused on your task! Just use the Pomodoro Technique the improve your productivity and daily time management.
The Pomodoro Technique says to work for 25 minutes followed by a 5 minute break. This helps keep your focused on your task at hand with a built in rest.

Strategy 4: Stay Focused Using the Pomodoro Technique

Time doesn’t have to be the enemy. In fact, if you use your time wisely, you can actually use it to your advantage.

So what is the Pomodoro Technique? There are 5 basic principles.

  1. Choose a task that needs to get done (which if you follow the steps above you already know what this is!)
  2. Set a timer for 25 minutes
  3. Work on that task interrupted until the timer goes off
  4. Take a short 5 minute break (stand up, stretch, use the toilet, go outside, etc)
  5. Start the process over

Besides giving your brain regular rest, the technique also greatly helps cut down on distractions and keep you focused on one task at a time. The other great thing is that this technique can be used by anyone regardless of your profession.

You can also adjust the time a bit if needed, just as working for 50 minutes and then taking a 10 minute break. But you don’t want to work much longer than that. And it’s recommended that after you have completed 4 pomodoros in a row, that you take an extended break.

CONGRATULATIONS!

That’s it! Those are my 4 time management strategies to gaining more time in your day. Ultimately, it’s about creating a better life balance, learning effective prioritization, and improving your focus to achieve more productivity. 

It is NOT about being perfect. 

These strategies will take time to implement and get used to. If you are struggling to stay on top of them, I encourage you to pick just 1 start with and work it until you feel you can add an additional strategy.

Before you know you’ll be the envy of all your friends and sharing your new found time/priority management secrets with them! 

10 thoughts on “4 Effective Time Management Strategies For A Better Life Balance

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    1. Hi Alex. Thank you for all of the feedback. Much of the information I provided are personal steps that I take in organizing my tasks. I did provide a link in the article on research regarding losing time by context switching. You may also be interested in this article on the principles of the Eisenhower Matrix (http://www.eisenhower.me/eisenhower-matrix/) . It’s an exercise that takes you through the steps of deciding what is or isn’t important. In my case, I like to use the should get done/must get done prompts for the quadrants, but it’s the same idea. Many times we feel like we don’t have the time to organize our tasks and yet it’s one of the most important steps we can take to improve productivity. And as I say at the end of the article it’s not about being perfect. It’s finding a system that works for you to help create balance in your work and life and create some healthy boundaries! Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

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