5 Unique Tips To Manage Your Time Like A Boss

Heike Verhoef - 22 Jan 22

person holding white mini bell alarmclock
Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

Nail the art of time management! Time management. A concept that seemingly comes naturally to some but something that most people struggle with. If you can nail the art of time management, the possibilities of what you can accomplish open up. Practicing and trying out tools to assist in optimising your time and becoming the master of your schedule should be a priority from an early age. School-going students, especially as the amount of individual school projects increase and when learners start writing exams. By the time you reach grades 10, 11, and eventually the demanding final year of school, you can have mastered the art of time management, ensuring academic success. Effective time management is a lifelong skill. Get more done and ultimately free up your time for a variety of productive and fun activities with these 5 unique ideas to manage your time like a boss.

1. First and foremost, own your time!

What do I mean by this? Well, understand that your time is your own and you get to decide where to expend your energy. Understand how many hours there are in a day and how much you can actually accomplish - it’s a lot. Learn to say yes to the tasks and projects that add value, including those more tedious and mundane tasks. If you understand why you do something and the value of what you’re doing, those “less fun” tasks become easier.

Accept that you are in control of your time. So, in the same breath, learn to say no to tasks that add little value. You know now that there are enough hours in a day to accomplish a lot but don’t take on too much, you don’t want to end up burnt out.

Once you have adjusted your mindset by owning your time, employ some practical tools to keep you on track.

2. Use a scheduling or tracking tool

Planning out your day or week manually is immensely important. You do not want to spend unnecessary energy trying to remember everything. A visual representation of what you need to accomplish will ease possible mental fatigue.

There are so many planning tools and methods to choose from, the trick is to get one that works for you. Here is a list of some popular methods:

Use a daily planner:

Get one of those daily planners (you can get them at most stationary or bookstores) and write down your homework requirements, project deadlines, upcoming tests, social events, appointments and birthdays under the relevant dates. You can include daily checklists and future planning.

Time Blocking:

This is a very popular time management method (apparently the number one choice for Elon Musk). Usually done digitally, it requires that you block out time on a calendar for all the tasks you need to do on a daily or weekly basis. You can plan your study time during exams or plan out how to meet deadlines at a comfortable pace. You can tailor this method to fit your needs. Colour-coordinate different subjects or school-related things versus lifestyle-related tasks. Add the fun and mundane tasks your need to do or leave out what you want.

Bullet Journalling:

Ryder Caroll developed the bullet journal method and it has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. It is an analogue and flexible method of journaling and planning that you can tailor to your own needs. If you are a creative type you can also use this method as a form of artistic expression.

Alternatively, keep it simple with to-do lists:

This is my personal favourite method. A simple and streamlined to-do list that you write at the beginning of a day can help you organise your tasks and stay on track. Stick to to-do lists if your planning in itself is overwhelming. Do not waste time on elaborate planning if it does not bring you peace of mind and joy. There is nothing more satisfying than ticking things off a to-do list, it’s a simple way to measure your productivity on a daily basis. Make sure not to clutter your to-do lists with a bunch of extra fluff that can cause you to feel overwhelmed - keep it simple.

3. Choose ONE important thing to accomplish a day

This might sound simple, especially because you often have more than just one thing to do on a daily basis. But if you choose one very important thing or something that is especially enjoyable to you and make sure that you complete that specific task then you will see a change in your productivity. Time management is not about getting everything done as quickly as possible, but it is about prioritising what is important and what adds the most value to your life. If you can accomplish at least one important thing every day in your life in pursuit of success and achievement you will be able to tick things off your to-do list faster and with more time to spare than you realise.

4. Understand Parkinson's Law and its implications

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

This is Parkinson’s Law in a nutshell. In other words, it is the idea that a task takes as long to finish as the time allocated to finish it. So, if you are given one week to finish a project then it will take you one week to finish the project, but if you are given three days to finish the same project then three days is enough to complete it. It is an interesting theory, that you can bust if you understand it. In order to get better at time management, impose personal deadlines or adjusted deadlines on yourself. Hold yourself accountable. Just because you are given a certain amount of time to do something does not mean you need all that time to do it. Your perception matters and if you can practice mindfulness around how much time is needed to finish a project or task, then you will ultimately free your time up to do things you enjoy. This brings me to the final but crucial tip for managing your time effectively...

5. Make time to do the things you love

Balance is crucial in preventing burnout. Time management is always considered in terms of accomplishing tasks relating to school or work. If you add those things that bring you joy outside of school and work to the list of important things to do you will be able to manage and enjoy your time better. School and work are very important, but so is your personal time and mental health. Set aside dedicated time to engage in activities that you want to engage in - video games, reading, sports, socialising, family time, writing or any hobby that falls outside the scope of school work. Don’t make too many exceptions but allow for flexibility. Remember the first item in this list: “own your time”. Even if you have a lot on your plate, there is no need to compromise. I promise you, there are enough hours in a day. Take an hour here and there, get up earlier if you must or whatever works for you to do those things that make you feel fulfilled. When you do this, do not feel guilty that you are not busy working or studying. Balance is key when it comes to time management.

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