For this Top Five, I’m sharing 5 strategies that I’m using to improve my time management and be more productive.
Whether you’re working a 9-5 or going to school (or juggling both); involved in ministry or are pursuing some passion projects, these are some tips and strategies that I’ve learned to help manage different responsibilities and keep things moving along.
1. The “Top 3”
This strategy involves identifying 3 items that are priority to complete for the day. These tasks should be items that are important or time-sensitive, or will move you towards accomplishing a a larger goal or project. For example, if I answer emails daily, then I would not list “Answer Emails” as a Top 3 item because this would get done anyways. Instead, I would list an item that is part of a larger project I’m working on, like “Edit Blog Post”. The nice thing about the Top 3, is that it helps keep me focused, especially when I have a number of items requiring my attention. I got this tip from entrepreneur and YouTuber, Erin on Demand (thanks, girl!). She has some great videos on time management as well.
If I don’t finish every item for a Top 3, I’ll move it to the next day. Also, I’ll reflect on whether my expectations for what I could accomplish were realistic. If not, then I can learn how to better estimate the time required for my tasks for the next day.
2. Time Blocks
Time blocking. This right here is a major, major time-management strategy I’ve utilized over the years in school, career, and in life. What I like about using time blocks is that it helps combat procrastination and distraction, and maintain focus. Also, when I place a due date on a task, it’s like a bit of extra motivation to get things done in a timely manner, especially for tasks that otherwise would not have a time limit, like doing the dishes. The best thing though, is when I add a time block to my Top 3 – it’s just fire 🔥.
Realistic time estimates are key here because the least effective thing to do repeatedly set unattainable time frames. I’ve found that when I haven’t set realistic (to me) time frames, I feel less motivated or end up extending the time for that task into the time for another task, which then throws off the schedule. In moments like those, I take note and re-evaluate how I scheduled things to apply a more realistic time block for similar tasks in the future.
3. Developing Systems
Personal Systems: this is also just a fancy way of saying “routines”. I have a great appreciation for systems (yes, I call my routines “systems”), as a system not only helps me stay organized with my time, but I find that I can get things done more quickly and free up mind space to think about other items, like a project I’m working on or something for work. It takes time to create a solid personal system, but it’s worth it. I also re-evaluate my systems/routines periodically to see what is working and what isn’t, and what changes need to be made in that season.
4. Educational Entertainment
I’ve prioritized to watch or listen to content that is more educational; whether its reading a blog post, watching a YouTube video, or listening to a podcast. This could be content related to personal growth, growing in the Christian walk, finance, or any other topic that would be enriching. Now, I do watch a movie or TV show for fun from time to time; but during the week, especially, I try to prioritize things that will help me grow, because education is definitely a valuable use of time.
5. Setting Weekly Outcomes
This is the newest strategy I’ve been applying. This is where I identify goals I want to have accomplished by the end of the week. This is different from the Top 3 in the sense that the weekly intentions are larger goals than the daily goals. To me, my Top 3 Items are what would build towards accomplishing the weekly outcomes. I’ve tried writing the weekly intentions in my planner, but I find that it is more effective to place in a more visible place, like my wall calendar. This allows them to be in a place I will see them easily, and plan my daily tasks accordingly.
So far, this strategy has been the one I’ve been least consistent with, but one I’d like to (and am working towards) incorporate more on a regular basis.
What strategies do you use to manage your time? Let me know and leave a comment below!