You’re here because you need to get more done, so we’re not going to waste your time. Let’s go.
26 time management tips for finding more time in your day
1. Make tomorrow’s to-do list before you leave the office today
That way you waste no time when you get to work in the morning—you’re ready to hit the ground running.
As you complete tasks, physically cross them off your list. Now that’s a satisfying feeling.
2. Mark your urgent tasks
Every week, do an exercise in prioritization. Mark the top three things that must be done by the end of the week in order for you to call it a success. Do the same thing every morning for your daily tasks.
3. Try time blocking
4. Find your most productive times, then steer into that
Everyone will have their most productive moments at different points of the day. If yours is in the morning, knock out your toughest and most time-consuming tasks then. If your most productive time is in the afternoon or evening, save those tasks for later.
5. Turn off the TV
Remove distractions that might pull your attention away, even for small bits of time. If you need noise to help you focus, try music or a white noise app like Noisli.
6. Delegate what you can
Even if you don’t have direct reports, you may still be able to delegate some tasks. Speak to your manager about tasks that are really eating up your time. Perhaps you can outsource them to a freelancer or pass it along to a coworker who’s not so pressed for time.
When making the case to your manager, bring hard numbers: I’d like to delegate X task to Bobbi, which would save me an average of five hours every month. With that time, I could start working on the new product and she would get the experience of working on a higher-level task.
Read more: How to Delegate Like a Boss
7. Delegate work at home too
You can delegate household tasks too—to your partner, to your kids, to your roommates. Keep a list in a visible area like the kitchen where everyone can see who is responsible for what. Women still take on most of the household and child care work in the U.S., even in households where both the mother and father work, even in households where the woman is the breadwinner—it’s time we delegate non-paid work where we can.
8. Use time-saving apps
Many grocery stores often have free curbside pickup, so you don’t have to spend so much time wandering the aisles and waiting in line. Plenty of restaurants and coffee shops also have apps that let you place an order ahead of time.
9. Or, stand in lines
You can make use of coffee pre-order apps, or you can make use of the time you have standing in line to answer emails or catch up on industry news.
But also consider using that time for yourself. Even small moments spent not working can make a difference when it comes to giving you energy for the rest of your life. Instead of answering emails while waiting in line, use that time to people watch and just enjoy a quiet moment. If you ride the train or a bus to work, use that time to read a book or listen to a podcast.
10. Set goals that makes sense for your work
At the beginning of each month or quarter—whichever makes the most sense for your work—write down your SMART goals. That is, your goals should be:
Do periodic check-ins to see how you’re tracking against goals.
11. Take breaks
Step away from your work every 60 to 90 minutes to do something else. While taking a break, stay away from screens—especially if you work at a screen. Instead of scrolling your phone, walk around the block, get a cup of coffee or tea, stretch, talk to a friend. Anything to change your pace for a few minutes.
12. Get good sleep
Lack of sleep can make a dent in your work performance. Go to bed early, read a book instead of looking at a screen before bed, and watch it pay off in productivity.
13. Group similar tasks
Constantly switching between tasks can be mentally jarring, so group like tasks together. Make phone calls one after another, schedule meetings back to back, answer emails during one block of time, work on strategy or planning during another.
14. Block off your calendar
Reserve blocks of time on your calendar only for quiet, solo working time. This can be especially helpful if your colleagues can see your calendar and schedule meetings. They should consider that time already booked.
15. Review action items before the meeting is over
We’ve all had the experience of getting back to our desks after a meeting and wondering, what am I supposed to do again? Before the meeting is over, verbally go over all action items, tasks, and follow-ups to ensure everyone is clear on responsibilities. Appoint someone to document them in a place where everyone can access them.
16. Prioritize: quality, speed, cost
When you have a new task or project, identify with your stakeholders what is most important: quality, speed, or cost. Stack-rank them to ensure you spend your energy in the right places.
17. Create a space that’s only for work
If you work from home, having a dedicated space for working can help you block out distractions and better get in the work mindset. Even if its a table you sit at that’s only for work, that can make a difference.
18. Close the door
If you have a dedicated office, close the door when you can’t be interrupted. Let those around you know that a closed door means do not disturb. If you don’t have your own office, book a conference room or find a secluded space and physically face away from the rest of the office.
19. Let go of perfection
“Perfect is the enemy of good,” Voltaire wrote. Well, perfect is also the enemy of done. So do your best, then move on.
20. Answer email only at certain times
No need to answer emails as soon as they arrive. Set aside 30 minutes to an hour in the morning and in the afternoon to knock through your inbox.
21. Take on the biggest task first
Get it over with. It will give you a boost for the rest of the day. And the other tasks won’t feel so big.
22. Use an organization system
Whether it's a paper dayrunner or a digital system like Asana, using an organization system to track tasks, status, and roadblocks can save you tons of time.
23. Set a timer
Give yourself time limits on your tasks. Set a timer or alarm, and get to work! (Or, use the pomodoro technique.)
24. Audit your days
For at least a week, keep a log of how you spend your time. Use a digital app like Harvest (there’s a free 30-day trial) so you can easily categorize your tasks and identify where you’re spending too much time or not enough.
25. Do something good for yourself
You must make time to take care of yourself. Taking time away from work will make you more productive when you do sit down to take care of business.
26. Ask for help
Burnout is real. Ask for help when you need it. Help doing paid work, help with the work at home, help with your mental and physical health when you need it.