The Best Beginner Time Management Guide

Photo by K HOWARD on Unsplash

In This Post

  • Time is your most valuable asset
  • How learning to set boundaries can change your life
  • How to avoid things that aren’t a good use of your time
  • Tips on managing your time and boosting your productivity
  • Reminders about your time and quality of life – it’s not about the grind!

Why Is Your Time So Important?

Managing your time is one of the most important ways to help you live a fulfilling, productive and meaningful life. Your time is the most important resource you have. So, looking after it, protecting it and making the most of it is vital! When you can learn to truly appreciate your time for what it is worth, you can start valuing it in such a way that makes the most of it. Your time is only ever decreasing. Whether that fills you with joy and gratitude or dread and anxiety, you should make the most of it. Your time is worth it, so let’s look at how we can best manage this precious little resource. 

Why Is Saying ‘No’ So Important?

So you’ve come to terms with the fact that your time is finite. But, you might find yourself in many situations where you know your time is being wasted, yet you feel like you can’t get out. Maybe you feel too polite to say no to the salespeople at your front door. Or, you feel like you’ll look lazy if you decline a meeting. Or, rude for not showing up to your friend’s cousin’s sister’s birthday party. The list goes on!

It is hard to say ‘no’ to people when they ask us for our time. But, it is an important part of life. Setting boundaries with your time, when you are available and willing to give your time to people, will help you to have more time and energy for the more meaningful things in your life. It will also make others appreciate your time more when you do give it to them.

Remember, time management is as much about focus and energy management as it is about just the hours you have per day. Random meetings and feeling like your time is lost objectively feels bad and decreases your energy. Pay close attention to both your time and your energy resources.

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What Are Time Wasters?

Time wasters can also be self-inflicted (hello social media scrolling!) It is important to identify and deal with the self-inflicted distractions as much as the external ones. I’m not saying you have to be productive all the time. Far from it! Joy, fun and rest are key areas of life you should actively include in your week. But, less meaningful ways of spending your time that don’t really add much value to your life are best avoided.

Simple rules and structures for your day can help you achieve this. For example, I love my social media time, but I know it’s not the best thing for my brain. So, I have a hard rule that I do not go on it while at my desk working, or any time in the morning. This way, I am much less likely to go down a random Youtube rabbit hole and end up 2 hours into my morning without even having left the bed.

Another thing to consider that could be wasting your time is work itself. The 80/20 rule states that 20% of our work produces 80% of our results. This can be used in all areas of life, not just work. Therefore, consider the different ways that you may be working that are less effective, less efficient and are filling your time, rather than actually being useful.

Time management is about being able to do more while also being more effective with the work you actually do. There’s no point ticking off hundreds of tasks if they actually amount to very little in terms of outcome!

What Tools Can I Use to Help Manage My Time?

So, hopefully you’ve identified areas where you can get rid of tasks and behaviours. Whether that be delegating them, avoiding doing them completely, or just changing when you do them, so that you are left with meaningful tasks to complete. Now you can consider using different techniques and tools, like time blocking by using a calendar, to make the most of your precious time.

Using a calendar and scheduling in time to do certain tasks is much more effective than a simple to do list. It creates mini deadlines throughout the day that help keep you motivated, and more likely to stay on track and focused. Setting a clear priority for each task and arranging it so that you deal with your most vital tasks first, is a good way to ensure your most important missions are completed.

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What Methods Can I Use to Boost My Productivity?

You should try and chunk up similar tasks together so your brain has to do the least amount of work when switching between different types of thinking. Setting deadlines for non-time sensitive tasks is another reason why time blocking using a calendar is so useful.

I know for me personally that if I have some random life admin task that has no hard deadline, that it will stay on my to do list for months on end. Despite the task only taking a few minutes itself. Putting a screen protector on my phone was genuinely on my list for over three months!

It is easy to focus on using your time blocking calendar for work or study. But, you should also consider using it to schedule in tasks and events for other areas of your life. You can also try scheduling in time throughout the week for non-productivity activities.

Things like catching up with friends and family, doing the grocery shopping or going to the gym. This is a good way to visually see the balance in your life between work and play. It also helps you ensure that you are completing things that you might forget, put off, or that you feel a lot of mental resistance towards. 

Managing Your Time Is About Your Quality of Life

As we discussed earlier, managing your time is as much about managing your energy and focus, as it is about the structure of your day. The goal with anything should be to bring you the most happiness, joy and highest quality of life.

Use your time wisely and manage it in a way that you actively plan, schedule and make time for things that bring you purpose and meaning. Schedule in time for your health goals, family, friends, fun, and new experiences. These are as important, if not more important, than being as productive as possible while at work or studying.

You should also remember that your 8 hours of sleep per night is a non-negotiable. Nothing should come between you and your time to rest. It may feel tempting to extend your day a little more so you can get more done. But. you need rest and down time while awake as well as your actual time spent sleeping.

Life is not a race! You have plenty of time to achieve your goals. Not spending time doing things that are good for you like rest, being with those you care about and doing things that bring you true, vivid joy, is simply not worth the ‘productivity gains’ you may get from cutting these out. 

To Put it Minimally

  • By understanding that your time is your most valuable asset, you can take better care of it and improve your life
  • Identifying and removing time wasters is essential to keep your life streamlined, and allows you to focus on the most effective, meaningful and joyful things in your life
  • Using tools like calendars, notepads, checklists, chunking similar tasks together, etc., can all help you be more effective with the time you have
  • Managing your time isn’t about being the most productive for the sake of being productive – it’s about making sure you have time for rest, fun, and the nice things in life!

Recommended Reading

If you enjoyed this post and would like to dive deeper into the topic, use our Amazon affiliate links below to get a copy of the books used to help make this post.

Deep Work – Cal Newport

Hyperfocus – Chris Bailey