Not everyone is good at staying organized or on top of things. While others are very good at being organized, including myself. But when it comes to managing time, some people can be all over the place. So how do people organize time well? If you struggle with time management, it’s something to keep in mind. Understanding how to do that can help you be more productive in the long haul.
Why are some people not good at organizing time?
When it comes to professionals, they may have an unclear path of how to go about things. For example, if some employees just do what they’re told to do, but they may rush to complete their assignments on time.
Some people are not motivated by what they do at their jobs. If they’re not doing work they find meaningful, they’ll work more slowly at it and possibly wait to put things off at the last minute.
For those who run a business, a lack of planning or how to go about specific tasks can be challenging. Also, they may not know how to prioritize some of their tasks. Either way, it’s likely due to a lack of planning or prioritizing their tasks.
For the remainder of this post, I will go over 13 approaches to organize your time better. If you struggle with managing time, these tips may help you out.
Plan early (but not too early)
Planning ahead of time helps give you a heads up of what to expect. That can be planning your day, a week, or even planning out months or a year in advance.
However, it’s best to focus on short term planning (a day early or a week). Long-term planning is great, but for managing your time, you don’t want to get far ahead in the future. Here are ways you can plan ahead starting now.
- Planning your day (the night before or morning of)
It’s good to get in the habit of making a to-do list the night before. If you get too tired at nighttime, then make it one of the first things you do in the morning.
- Planning your week (either on Friday- end of week; Or, on Sunday- start of the week)
When planning out your week, take a look at your calendar and see what’s coming up. See what days are lighter, and which ones are busier. Taking a glance ahead can help you figure out what days look better, or which ones are going to be busy.
Use a calendar
Speaking of calendars, they definitely come in handy to check your schedule. Any type of calendar will work for planning, especially when it comes to meetings or projects that are due soon.
For maximum effort, I recommend using Google calendar. It’s very easy to use for setting up your daily, weekly, or monthly outlook.
Also, you can view from all types of devices, including a desktop, tablet, or your mobile phone. I think Google calendar is the most effective tool for planning your schedule these days.
Prioritize your tasks
One of the biggest problems people don’t do is prioritize their tasks. That’s when you need to figure out which tasks need more attention, and then work on getting those done first.
A lot of times, people may not get to those priorities first. For example, if those tasks are more challenging, they put it off until later (i.e. procrastinating). So they may prefer to do the easier tasks first, rather than do the hard work first.
When it comes to prioritizing, I tend to work on the most difficult tasks first. Especially if they need to get done soon, I’ll get right onto them.
When I write my to-do list (for me, it’s a priority or task list), I list up to three things I need to get done on a particular day. I ask myself, “What are one-three things I need to work on today?”.
Once I have them written down, then I work on those tasks first. After they get done, then everything else comes later.
Kickoff your day working on those priorities
If not the very first thing you do, get your priorities done at the beginning of the day. Knocking them out of the way sooner than later can make your day a whole lot better.
For me, I feel better doing them soon because I have more energy in me. I’m more alert and feel active in doing more challenging work.
How I go about the start of my day
I usually don’t dive into focus work after I wake up. Within my first 90 minutes of waking time, I’ll do some meditation, followed by some light reading. It helps me get my day off to the right start.
But after the first hour or so, I’ll dive right into doing my most important tasks. When my mind is clear and ready to go, then it’s time to get working.
Use something to keep you focused
To help you remain focused, it’s good to do something such as listening to focus music. That type of music is designed to keep you in the zone.
If music is not your cup of tea, then listen to a podcast or a motivational talk. There are plenty of podcasts that revolve around positivity and motivation.
One thing I’ll do sometimes is listen to a past TED-talk about a topic that interests me. So listening to something that upbeats me or gets me motivated can help me stay focus and in my rhythm.
Avoid split attention while working on one task
Have you ever found yourself working on a project, but then stopped to check your phone or email for no apparent reason? It happens to a lot of people, and it’s become a problem over the years.
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, refers to split attention as “half work”. As he explains in one of his articles, we’re never fully engaged on a single task. When that happens, it takes us longer to work on a task than usual.
To avoid this dilemma, Clear says to block out time (whether it’s a few hours, or even an entire day) to work on a project or doing deep work. During this time, it’s good to put your phone in another room to maximize your efforts. Also, shutting off your email and social media can help as well.
If you try that out for one day (or even go an entire month), you can get so much done during those focus periods. It may be worth the challenge, especially if you struggle to get your priorities done in a timely manner.
Set time limits for tasks
Setting time limits can help move things along. It helps to avoid putting things off, or spending too much time on one task.
For example, when I sit down to write an article, I give myself between 2-2.5 hours to write out a draft (depending on the article topic). For editing or revising the draft, I limit myself to one hour before I publish it.
My favorite approach: The Pomodoro technique
If you’re not familiar with this technique, it’s working in 25-minute intervals followed by brief five minute breaks. I use the Pomodoro technique often during times when I need to focus. To learn more about this approach, check out an article I wrote about it not too long ago.
Leave buffer times between schedule
Buffer time basically means open time to do any light work in between your schedule. For example, checking your email or making phone calls can be a few of those tasks.
Also, taking short breaks can take place during buffer time. Whether that’s going for brief walks, short meditations, or enjoying the outdoors, it helps fill time to do the small things.
Utilize your “dead time” periods
Throughout your day, there will be times where you can do other things at once. If you’re driving between trips (but have nothing else to do), that’s considered “dead time”.
It’s especially common if you’re commuting to and back from work, or waiting at the doctor’s office. If you have time to listen to an audiobook, a podcast, or learn a new language, those commute or wait times can be used wisely.
What I’ve done during “dead time”
When I’ve commuted to work (usually on a train), I would set some time to do research for my next blog articles. Other things I did include listening to a podcast or getting some reading time in.
Using that time to do these activities during my commute was a big time-saver. If I had not done those things during my “dead time”, I would have had to save all of those things for later.
Setting reminders is a common way to remember doing your most important tasks. Simple things to keep in mind include writing sticky notes (physical or through a desktop app), or through an app on your phone.
As an iPhone user, I utilize the default “Reminders” app to set small and big reminders. It’s a great way to stay on track and not to forget doing the small or big things.
Change your schedule
There’s nothing wrong with changing your schedule if you find yourself struggling. If you need to get more things done, try getting up an hour earlier. There’s nothing wrong with getting a headstart on your day.
For example, instead of waking up at 7AM, aim to get up an hour earlier (6AM). It’s what I do sometimes, and it helps me save time some days as well.
If you’re more of a night person, then schedule your time to do your most important tasks in the evening. Some people are that focused in the mornings, so they may be better at it during nighttime.
Remember to schedule the necessities
There’s so much time you can do on a given day, but you still have to set time for personal care. If that’s eating, exercising, or getting proper rest, you still have to do these things daily.
The best times to practice self-care are in the early morning hours, or at night right before going to sleep. I see the early morning as time for reflection and meditation. On the other hand at night, I use it for winding down and getting ready for bed.
Without scheduling proper time for the basics, you’ll be all over the place and less likely to stay focused. In particular, getting enough sleep is crucial for staying energized and focused when you need it the most.
Write down what you accomplished at the end of the day
It may not matter now, but writing out your accomplishments may help you stay motivated. Even if it’s at least one thing you did meaningful, that can help keep your head up.
What I usually do is I write out one win I had at the end of the day. I’ll ask myself, “What was one win that I had today?”
Even if it was a small win, it shows you did something meaningful. If it’s writing and publishing an article, or making a big sale, that’s a win-win either way.
It helps you to stay motivated, along with enforcing positivity as well. When you do that, you may look forward to the next day ahead.
Organizing your time effectively is not hard to do. Yet most people will not make an effort at it. To put in another perspective, I think of it as being lazy (which I used to be in the past).
As mentioned earlier, the big ones include a lack of planning and prioritizing tasks. The tips brought up earlier can help with organizing your time better. I use most of them, and it makes managing my time a little easier to do.
Whether you’re looking to improve it on a personal level (or in your career), organizing your time better can come a long way. If you’re willing to put in some effort into it, you’ll be surprised to see how much you can get done over time.
Your Turn: How well do you organize time?
I would like to get your thoughts on this topic. Do you struggle with organizing your time properly? Do you find yourself falling short, whether that’s not planning or prioritizing your tasks?
Which of the approaches do you like, or which ones are you practicing right now? What else do you do that I have not brought up in this post?
Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. I look forward to reading your thoughts, and I’ll gladly answer any questions you may have.
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Eric is the owner and chief editor of notimekillers.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time and grow their businesses. Eric is a firm believer in financial and time freedom, as he believes in financial independence and taking ownership of your time. “Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He enjoys going for long walks outdoors while doing in-home workout videos every week. You can also connect with Eric via LinkedIn.