The Practical Guide To Time Management So You Can Get More Done With Less Stress

*Guest Post*

When you think of time management, what do you think of?

If you’re like most people, it probably sounds like some far away, rarely attained treasure that you can only find in the land of leprachans, unicorns and fairies.

… and you might even spend HOURS Pinteresting (is that even a word?) articles about productivity, time management and maybe you even have a whole drawer full of planners…. but you just can’t seem to figure it out.

Put simply, time management is a process where one’s time and tasks are organized and prioritized. While the definition above refers to “working hours,” time management does not have to be limited to work.

 

Better Time Management = Less Stress

Generally, we think of productivity as getting tasks done quickly.

Howeverrrrr, productivity refers to completing tasks (regardless of how fast they get done).

You might be thinking, “that’s all well and good, Elizabeth. But what do I care about being more efficient or productive?”

I’m so glad you asked!

Increased productivity means that more tasks can be completed in less time and you’ll be less stressed.

Why wouldn’t you want to get more done and be less stressed about it!?

 

How Do Time Management and Productivity Relate?

How many times have you been running late somewhere, completely forgotten about something or flat out missed an opportunity because you just couldn’t get your life together?

The goal of time management is to make sure you’re using your time wisely, so by getting really good at managing your time, you’ll also get more done, faster.

This works because time management (often in the form of a planner), allows you to chart out all tasks and events so you can plan ahead of time and since most of us are visual people, a planner or calendar allows us to see everything that is happening.

To reduce your stress, focus on planning your time, rather than increasing your productivity.

Better time management = less stress Click To Tweet

Sometimes, life happens and you can’t avoid plans changing, but time management can lower your stressthat’s caused by overlooking, overbooking, disorganization and forgotfulness.

Having everything planned leaves way less room for error… and when you get better at managing your time, you’ll waste less time too.

That’s a really long way of saying that effective time management will make you more productive.

 

How To Manage Your Time

Time management is more common than you might realize as many people use calendars, planners or schedulers—all of which are forms of time management.

Do you use one of these forms of time management?

If so, you have already increased your productivity (at least a little) simply by using one.

To take that up a notch, here’s how to master your schedule:

 

Know Yourself

First things first, knowing yourself is the most important part of being more productive.

Knowing yourself is the most important part of being more productive. Click To Tweet

So many people buy a planner with the intention of increased productivity and end up tossing it aside.

This is because they chose a method of time management that doesn’t fit their needs….

… and if your method of time management doesn’t fit your needs and personality, it won’t work. Period.

Not only do you need to find a method that works for you, you need to work the method… And Be realistic.

Find a method that works for you and work the method. Click To Tweet

If you can’t stand using your phone for planning, then don’t.

… and if you need to write things down to remember them, get a written journal!

There will significantly less hiccups in your schedule when you are aware of your abilities and level of patience.

For example, if you know that you can whip a project together in 30 minutes, then plan to do it in a small 30-40-minute window in your schedule, but if you can’t do this or causes you too much stress, give yourself more time.

And lastly, realize that this is a learning process that will take some time to figure out.

I finally figured out my favorite planning mediums roughly 3-4 years ago and it’s taken me this entire time to really get an idea of what was a good fit for me (I am still perfecting it!)… And that’s okay!

Nothing works instantly, not even instant mashed potatoes!

Nothing works instantly, not even instant mashed potatoes! Click To Tweet

 

Ways to Practice Time Management

There are dozens of ways to practice time management and it starts with knowing yourself, but if you don’t have a means to plan, knowing yourself won’t help your productivity.

 

Planners and Schedulers

Planners and schedules come in a million forms. These can be store-bought, homemade, on the computer, in app form, etc. Here are a few extremely common planner types and an app that I highly recommend!:

 

Bullet Journal

My favorite form of scheduling is the bullet journal.

I personally use my bullet journal constantly.

So, what is a bullet journal?

It’s a journal or notebook filled with hand-written planner pages. This is the most customizable option that I am aware of because you literally do whatever you want with it.

Because of the customizability, I will always suggest giving the bullet journal a shot.

The bullet journal’s biggest downfall is that the creation of the journal pages take time.

If you don’t care to take the time to plan your own pages, this option might not be for you….

… BUT, if you aren’t sure or are intimidated by all the fancy bullet journal pages you have seen on Pinterest, check out my post on simple bullet journal pages. These are pages that are easy to do quickly and don’t require artistic ability.

The most common bullet journal pages include the mind-dump (or ideas page), a key page, monthly calendar, weekly planning, and an array of tracking pages.

If you are looking for ideas, feel free to check out my personal bullet journal or this Pinterest board that I’ve dedicated to bullet journal ideas and how-to’s.

 

Store Bought Planners and Journals

If you don’t have an interest in bullet journaling, the store-bought planner is the next closest option.

You can find these planners at any office store, super store in the office department, Amazon, and with a simple Google search.

These planners come with a plethora of designs, sizes, page options, etc.

While they are far less customizable, there are so many options out there. More often than not, people choose the store-bought planner because it saves a lot of time and is still tangible.

 

Myhomework.com (For Students)

Myhomework.com is both an app and a website.

However, if you are a student, GET THIS APP! You will not regret it.

I have told countless friends and peers about this app and every single person has thanked me and told me how useful it has been to them. It has surely saved my education!

I would like to go into further detail about how to use it, since it is not too well known.

First, obviously, you should download the app (or visit the website) and sign up. Don’t worry, its free.

Next, you need to add your courses.

There is an option to search for your classes, but I have never been able to use this option.

I opt to manually input my classes and I also recommend color coding your classes to match the notebook, folder, binder, etc. that you use in those classes.

Once you have added your courses, grab your syllabus, get comfortable, and add your classes!

When you do this, make sure you set aside some time, because it can take a while.

To make it go significantly faster, I recommend using the website because you can add multiple classes at once.

When adding classes, you are able to add a description for the assignment (this is what you will see on the list or if you choose to set a reminder), the class it is for, type of assignment (i.e. test, study, read, paper, presentation, etc.), due date and time, whether or not it repeats, priority, any files you’d like to attach (such as instructions or notes), a reminder, additional information, and you can also mark it as completed (note that when you are looking at the list of homework on a mobile device you can hold down on the assignment to mark it as complete).

I recommend taking full advantage of all those options. I also encourage playing around in the settings because you can choose to have completed assignments visible or not, among other customizations.

 

Choosing A Calendar

Calendars are another, broader, method of planning and time management.

The planners above are also calendars; however, I am noting calendars as something separate as it may be incorporated in a planner, yet planners have far more to offer.

 

Google Calendar App

This app is a widely-used app on Android devices and is available for Apple devices.

I love using this app because of the friendly user interface, color customization, it connects to my google account, can be shared with friends and family members and you can set reminders for events.

In addition to the calendar option, there is a task option available; however, I do not use this so I can’t really give advice on that.

 

Paper Calendar

Paper is the first, and probably most commonly used, calendar.

A paper calendar can be printed, bought in a store, or drawn up. Most often these are found hung up on walls and sitting on a desk or countertop.

For some people, paper works really well because of the concrete nature of writing stuff down.

 

Whiteboard Calendar

The whiteboard calendar is my favorite.

I use this along with my bullet journal because it is great to have at a glance and for others to write notes on or view.

While I keep detailed to-do lists and events in my bullet journal, I use my whiteboard calendar for events, appointments, meetings, and vacations.

You can, however, use a whiteboard as your sole planner as many of them come with a notes section that could be used for a to-do list.

 

Microsoft Office Calendar

Microsoft Word and Excel are also ways to create more personal calendars and planners to print… . Microsoft Word comes with various pre-made calendars

… Or you can create your own by inserting and customizing a table.

Excel is already in grid form, just resize the spaces to your liking and add borders to the spaces you’d like to be visible.

You can leave them on your computer or phone if you’d like, but there are better options which I would recommend over these.

Putting It Into Action

Color Coding

Now that you’ve chosen a planning or time management method, I highly highly highly recommend you find a way to color-code.

Color coding is when you identify different categories by color.

For example, I use green for work, pink for the blog, red for errands, teal for events, yellow for holidays and so on. If you can’t color code, try using symbols instead.

I recommend color coding because it makes glancing at your planner easier and quicker.

Why spend a ton of time trying to read your planner, when you can understand it at a glance?

 

Be Realistic

You probably won’t be able to stay organized if your sole method of planning is not easily accessible.

If it isn’t on you when you need it, how helpful is it really?

If you don’t want to carry around a planner, try using an app instead.

If you don’t like technology or don’t have a smartphone, choose a written planner.

Do you need something very general? Use a calendar.

If you need specifics (i.e. weekly or daily planning), use a planner or bullet journal.

You get the point, right?

Be realistic and know what you need.

 

Plan Time to Yourself!

The last thing I’d like to talk to you about is planning “me-time.”

Planning time for yourself is so often overlooked but it is incredibly important to make sure that you don’t burnout or become overwhelmed.

If you do end up burning out, you need to take a step back and take some time to yourself, away from your to-do list.

Without me-time, you are wayyyy more likely to burn out and quit planning altogether.

Your body and mind will make time to recoup and if you don’t leave time for this, you will end up forgetting or pushing aside other scheduled items.

Ever just feel too overwhelmed to even do anything? Yeah! That is what I’m talking about!!

You won’t get anything done if you’re stressed, burnt-out, or overwhelmed. 

Don’t let it get to that point, so take a timeout!

 

Key Takeaways:

  • Daily planning is the key form of time management for increase productivity
  • Time management that suits your needs will decrease stress and increase productivity
  • Plan your schedule to suit you
  • Avoid being overwhelmed and burn out by planning “me-time

 

What Now?

Get a planner, calendar, or list and start organizing your time and tasks on it!

Like what you read? Read more from Jihi Elephant here or follow Elizabeth on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+ for blog updates!

When you think of being one of those ninjas that can get everything done in a day, do you laugh at yourself and say that could never be you or do you get excited at the possibility? In this article, you're going to learn how to get your time management in order so that you can get more stuff done.

June 16, 2017
  • Kirstie Ganobsik

    Nice! I love the idea of ‘know thyself’ which is so true. It took me a while to work out a time management system too, and of course it’s still a bit of a work in progress. Thanks for all the great planner suggestions to help!

    • Absolutely! I think one of the reasons most people fail at productivity is because they’re always looking to find what other people are doing rather than finding what works for themselves.

  • This is all really awesome. I’m bookmarking (and have pinned) to come back later! I’m huge on content calendars and setting a schedule.

  • Debra

    Thanks for the tips……clearly I could be more efficient if I blocked off time for more specific tasks that I want to get checked off to free some space in the brain for the things that really need to get done!!

    • Heck yea! One of my favorite tips for productivity is to get all of those 5-minute tasks done because all the time you spend thinking about them ends up being way longer than it takes to actually get the task done haha.

  • Yes, my planner is my saving grace when it comes to time management. Planning ahead is key!

    Much love,
    Ashley | dearash.com

  • Haha, good stuff right here… I am so unorganized.

  • Jen

    So many great tips and quotes! I’m pinning so I can keep referring to this!

  • Sonyo Estavillo

    One of the things I’ve noticed about digital planners, is that while you save trees you are on your gadget and plugging everything in can be kind of annoying. For some reason if I physically write stuff down then I feel better. I like simple to use app’s if I am going to use one. I have a whiteboard in the living room and it works like a charm. I love the act of erasing or crossing off something I completed.

    • I SO get this… I brainstorm on paper and then execute digitally. That seems to work best for me. I use ToDoist to get stuff done because when you complete a task, you swipe it complete so it’s sort of like the same motion as crossing it off.

  • Cori Pullin

    I love using my paper calendar to manage my time. When I don’t, everything goes haywire lol. I mainly use it for my blogging schedule. Without it, I’m lost ?

  • Work hard, not smart! I’m a planner and couldn’t do anything without my calendar.

    • Once you discover the joy of planning, I don’t think you can ever go back lol.

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