5 Time Management Tips for Organizing Your Life and Career

Your day, like everyone else’s, is only 24 hours. Yet, somehow, certain people seem to be able to get more done than others. Their secret? Time management—how you plan, prioritize, and produce, day in and day out. You can’t create more time, but managing it wisely will make you happier, healthier, and more productive.

Time management depends a great deal on your unique individual circumstances, but a few general tips can help you better organize your life and career, significantly improving your time management capabilities—regardless of what’s on your plate.

1. See the big picture

You know that old adage, they couldn’t see the forest for the trees? It’s nearly impossible to be productive when you’re disorganized and drowning in details. What you need is a bird’s-eye view of your entire schedule and workload; a firm grip on the big picture. Only with clear visibility of the whole can you effectively drill down into the nitty-gritty and get things done.

2. Identify priorities early

Setting priorities is a smart way to ensure a productive day. You need to know what you need to tackle first and why, as well as a general sense of which tasks will take place when. That should happen before your day starts, with an honest assessment of what needs to be accomplished and the time it will take to complete.

More specifically, you should aim to:

  • Consolidate all of your tasks into one list and break them down by month, week, or day.
  • Separate important or urgent tasks from those of lower priority and
  • Build them into your day, tackling the most important tasks first and saving less important tasks for later.

3. Centralize information

Accessibility is key to effective time management; time spent hunting down information is time wasted. Make your life a little easier by consolidating all of your notes, tasks, and schedules in a single place. You’ll be able to back away and get a clear, cohesive, big-picture view of your situation, and better prioritize your to-dos—and you won’t lose precious hours tracking down important info.

The easier it is to access the information you need, the more readily you can act on it. If you constantly have to shuttle back and forth between apps to get the data you’re looking for, it’s going to drastically affect your time management capabilities and cause huge frustration.

4. Set deadlines and stick to them

Make it urgent

When you have all the time in the world to complete a task, it’s easier to procrastinate. Without a sense of urgency, it’s tempting to focus on less taxing activities often unrelated to your work. Assign yourself an earlier deadline to stay on track and motivated.

Make it fit

The way you manage your time is personal, and the tasks in your life fit its unique rhythms. Arrange your schedule to accomplish those tasks in a way that works for those patterns, rather than trying to force it into a set schedule.

Make it actionable

Don’t just note what you have to do. Visualize how you’re going to do it and what you’re going to need. Then you’re prepped and ready to complete your task.

Make it meaningful

The deadline needs to matter, and you need to be accountable, both to yourself and your team.

5. Take smarter breaks

Fear of losing productivity often prevents people from taking breaks when they need to. And yet, breaks are not just healthy but necessary to a productive workday. They work best when they meet the following parameters:

  • A break should focus on a significantly different activity than the one you were just working on.
  • It should keep you in a work-related frame of mind, allowing you to ease back into work quickly.
  • Any break is helpful, provided it’s taken when you really need one.

The health benefits of well-planned breaks every 45-90 minutes have been well-documented. They provide a sense of wellbeing by reducing stress and allowing you to better focus on your job when the break is over.