Time management is vital to the health of your career and relationships. People in the US, in particular, are working almost around the clock; from bed when they wake while eating dinner or while ‘watching’ a movie. Some researchers said that that 70 percent of people work beyond office hours and into the weekends.

This hurts not only our relationships, but also creativity and productivity. As we seek ways to better manage our time, we are finding suggestions that might not be as effective in helping us to manage time, but leave us feeling overwhelmed. So how do you know which advice is right for your needs?

The difference between being busy and being productive.

Being busy does not equate being productive. Busy work might keep you occupied, but it might not be the best use of your time if there are other tasks that are more pressing.

How do you set yourself up for successful task completion?

  • Number your daily or weekly tasks in order of deadline or priority. Manage the checklist and move through tasks methodically.
  • Allow yourself breaks every 40 minutes to an hour. Your break should be about 5 minutes, time to stretch, go to the bathroom or just gaze out the window. This gives your brain time to process the past hour of information.
  • Turn off notifications. Distractions from email or message are unnecessary when you have a task to complete.
  • Establish a daily routine, such as 7am wake, 9am review emails and messages for 1 hour, 10am engage in a task, 12pm lunch etc
  • Make your downtime sacred. Set up auto-replies for messenger and email so that you aren’t answering messages during dinner.


Believing that there isn’t enough time.

When you believe this, you create the problem. Time is not the issue, time management is. By dissecting tasks into manageable portions you are able to confront a large project far more easily.

However, you must commit to the daily process. Committing an hour or more each day to the completion of a large project will ensure that it is completed. Respecting deadlines, rather than fearing them, will also help. If you set time limits for tasks it can help to manage the expectations you have.

Sometimes we underestimate the time we need to complete a task. While you might have set aside an hour to reply to a client email, it could take two. This can derail your day, create anxiety and spiral into the evening as your expectations for the task completion of the day are extended.

One way to manage this is to track your task timings for a month before setting deadlines. Another is to know what on your daily list is busy work and what must be finished that day. Understanding your priorities will decrease your stress levels about how much time you have each day (which is 24 hours, just like everyone else.)

Focusing on time management, instead of task management.

“Task management is the process of managing a task through different stages: planning, development, and completion. It works both on an individual and on a group level by getting people to accomplish their goals,” writes Laura Sima in Teamweek Journal.

“Effective task management involves all the steps from planning it to setting a priority, including status, outlining the necessary resources for completion, notifications, and observation,” adds Sima.

Online tools such as shared calendars, team task management tools and checklists help you stay focused on what needs to be completed. In this way you stay on track, rather than looking only at the clock, you are also focused on completing the task.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution.

Student Ana Cecilia Calle said that when reading about time-management tools that promised: “certain control over your life … it works for a while, and then it stops working.” And that, according to Calle, is because these tools were built by developers who wanted to solve their own time management problems, so they may not be valid for all of us.

Using different tools, or a combination of tools might be the best way to manage your time. For some people it is a pen and paper with a checklist, for others, it is a calendar that auto schedules meet. You need to assess your needs and how different tools can contribute to your success.

The early bird gets the worm.

All successful people claim that they wake before 730am each day. They exercise, meditate and read the paper. Is it necessary for success? Maybe.

What we do know is that we all have our own sleep patterns and that quality sleep is vital to our health. Routine and rest are the real elements that contribute to our overall success.

So how do you stop making time management mistakes? Stop believing that there is a secret recipe to success and that overwork is part of that strategy. The real secret to success? Creativity, commitment and a critically analytical mind.

Overwork, stress and fatigue are destructions of your hard work. While you do need to work hard, you also need to manage your time and tasks so that what inspired you to challenge yourself in the first place is not lost in an endless pursuit for financial success over business growth.