Our lives are busy. We scurry from task to task, meeting to meeting and our feelings of success are largely dependent on how busy our days are. Is this really beneficial in the long run when it comes to our stress levels? Remember, everyone has the same amount of time in their days, but how we use that time is a choice.

Working smarter, not harder, will allow us to feel more accomplished and less stressed at the end of the day. Here are five quick tips to help with time management.

Apply the 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 Rule is one of the most helpful concepts when it comes to time management. It is also called the Pareto Principle after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who first talked about it in the late 1800’s.


This rule says that only 20% of your tasks are creating 80% of your results. Even if all of the tasks take the same amount of time to complete, only two items on a list of ten will turn out to be worth more than the other eight items put together. So, with each task, ask yourself, “Is this task in the top 20% of my activities or in the bottom 80%?”


If you have tasks that are in the 80%, those should be put first over the 20% tasks. The most valuable tasks are often the hardest, but it’s rewarding to know they were completed as efficiently as possible.

Don’t Over-Manage

This is helpful to remember if you have employees working for you. Over-managing employees is not only counterproductive, leading to decreased employee engagement and even lower productivity, but it’s not an efficient use of time. Instead, talk to managers who then take the information back to their employees.


Set aside time every week to sit down with the employees you need to converse with. Write down the date in a calendar or notebook and how much time you’re allowing yourself for the meeting, being sure to not exceed it. If your employees know their roles and expectations, you allow them to contribute their ideas and you give them performance feedback, over-managing is simply not necessary.

Be Organized

We all know them. They’re the people who have calendars, spreadsheets, checklists and no clutter. These are the organized people we envy for “having it all together,” but you can be that way too.


When you organize your life, more time can be spent on the important things. Not only will you be able to move from task to task with ease, but you will also be able to focus better. A de-cluttered life leads to a de-cluttered mind. Here are a few organizational tips you can ease into:

  • Write everything down.

  • Be aware of your finances.

  • Throw away things you don’t use.

  • Put everything back into its designated place.

  • Have a plan or a system for everything.

  • Prioritize your day.

  • Delegate tasks if needed.

  • Do what works for you.


Being organized also means being prepared. By preparing for the next day the night before, you can dramatically increase your chances of success. Have your clothes for the next morning picked and ready to go, your breakfast made and your alarm clock across the room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off.

Get an Early Start

Mornings may not be everyone’s favorite, but waking up early can actually be beneficial for your daily routine. By doing so, you will feel less rushed, more relaxed and it may even become your secret weapon for productivity.


Procrastination starts in the morning when you say, “I’ll wake up in ten minutes,” setting the tone for the rest of your day. Try giving yourself a compelling reason to jump out of bed, whether it be work, exercise, breakfast, or extra family time.

Focus

Distractions are a part of everyday life and we all have them. With employees, emails, phone calls and clients, it can be easy to get off track. However, learning how to focus and tune out distractions is possible and it can be a critical factor in success.


Start by focusing on two to three important tasks a day instead of ten to twenty minuscule tasks. By working on the important projects first, your brain hasn’t had a chance to tire, making creativity and concentration easier to come by. If you work on big tasks in the morning, then you can move on to easier work throughout the day such as deleting emails and returning phone calls.


Turn off all distractions and focus on the task at hand. Losing the ability to focus is inevitable, but you can get yourself back on track if you begin to train your brain. Practice concentration by committing your attention to a single task. Start small, maybe five minutes per day, and work up to hours at a time. If you find your mind wandering, just return to the task at hand. Your brain will begin to adapt more every day, allowing concentration to come naturally.


Organization can play a big part in success. While it may not come easy to everyone, especially in our world of distractions, small steps can be taken to change your daily routine in a positive way.