How to Better Manage Your Time

Making the most of your time is a matter of organization, patience, and practice. Don't blame yourself if hours have passed by and you still haven't managed to complete what you were meant to do. Take action. Use the advice we propose in this article.
How to Better Manage Your Time
Isabel Ortega

Written and verified by the psychologist Isabel Ortega.

Last update: 29 August, 2023

Time management is a challenge for many people. Indeed, we all have moments when we find it difficult to organize ourselves. It’s important to approach the problem from a constructive perspective and not to blame yourself for not managing your time better.

In fact, instead of feeling bad, try and use the situation as an opportunity to learn and progress. Focus on identifying areas where you can make adjustments and develop more effective skills. However, you must understand you can’t achieve this overnight as it takes time and practice, so you must be patient. Find out how to do it here.

How to better manage your time

A study published in the Journal of Psychology examined the effects of time management training and time control on the work environment. The results indicated that this capacity positively influences the perception of control and reduction of stress related to lapses at work.

Along similar lines, a meta-analysis published in PloS One specified that time management is moderately related to job performance, academic performance, and well-being. So, how can you adjust your schedule to benefit from better time management?

You might also like to read How to Get Out of an Unproductive Loop

better managing your time? Next, we’re going to give you some tips.

1. Set clear goals

Define your goals and objectives in both the short and long term. This practice will help you focus on the most important tasks and prevent you from becoming too involved in less relevant activities.

2. Plan your day

Take a few minutes at the beginning of every day to create a to-do list and establish an action plan. Planning helps you focus and organize yourself, which leads to better time management. You can plan on a daily or weekly basis. Make use of the apps on your cellphone (a sheet of paper works too).

3. Prioritize the important ‘to-dos’

Identify your most relevant commitments and make sure you address them first. Establishing a hierarchy will help you advance and avoid delaying yourself on less urgent tasks.

4. Eliminate distractions

Identify and minimize or eliminate the main distractions in your environment, whether it be your cell phone, social media, or unnecessary conversations. This will help you concentrate.

5. Use time management techniques

There are several proven strategies beneficial to productivity. For example,  the Pomodoro technique. This method consists of working in blocks of 25 minutes, followed by five minutes of rest. Also useful is the Eisenhower matrix, in which tasks are ranked based on their importance and urgency.

You can also try batching (grouping similar tasks and doing them together) or blocking time (assigning specific blocks for specific tasks).

6. Delegate whenever possible

If you have the option, delegate certain tasks or seek outside help. This will allow you to free up your time to focus on more important activities.

7. Learn to say no

Don’t feel obligated to accept every task that comes your way. Learn to assess your priorities and say no to things that don’t fit your goals or that are a burden.

8. Organize your workspace

A messy work environment negatively affects your productivity. Take the time to organize it and you’ll notice that your day is more pleasant and productive.

9. Take advantage of downtime

Use idle moments, such as when you’re traveling on public transport or in a waiting room, to read or listen to podcasts on topics related to your personal or professional development.

10. Take care of your well-being

Don’t neglect your health and well-being when you’re trying to improve your time management. Make sure you get enough sleep, exercise, and maintain a balanced diet, as these factors increase your energy and ability to concentrate.

“Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it.”

~ Richard Whately ~

Technology and time management

The excessive use of smartphones and other technologies is one of the main obstacles to good time management. Some of the effects of these devices are as follows:

  • Constant distractions. Every time you check your cell phone to answer messages or check social media, you lose time that could be spent more productively.
  • Procrastination. Smartphones, tablets, and computers offer a wide variety of entertainment. If you find yourself putting off important tasks to surf the net, play games, or watch videos, chances are you’re procrastinating and neglecting your responsibilities.
  • Lack of focus and productivity. Excessive use of technology affects your ability to focus on tasks for extended periods. Jumping from one app to another or keeping a constant eye on notifications fragments your attention and decreases your productivity.
  • Wasting time without realizing it. You often fall into a kind of ‘time trap’ when using technology. Although it might seem to you that you’re only checking your social media for a minute or answering a couple of messages, in reality, the minutes or even hours go by without you noticing.

Better time management and technology 

The use of technology, in itself, isn’t bad. You just need to find a balance and use it consciously and maximize your productivity, thus enjoying more free time.

For example, identify specific moments for checking your phone. Turn off any unnecessary notifications and only have the urgent or important kinds switched on.

Also, set yourself some time away from technology. During these periods, carry out activities away from the screen, such as reading, socializing, or practicing a hobby. Although it sounds paradoxical, certain apps and productivity tools help you better manage your time by blocking certain websites or apps during specific periods. They also track and limit the time you spend on them.

You must also exert self-discipline. Learn to resist the urge to check your cell phone or use technology in a non-productive way. Focus on your important tasks and goals.

The relationship between time management and enjoyable activities

Time management and enjoyable activities are intrinsically related and influence each other in various ways. Firstly, when you include in your daily planning what you enjoy doing, it increases your motivation and commitment. In fact, it works as an incentive for you to organize and complete your tasks.

Doing the things you’re passionate about improves your focus and productivity. This also reflects in other areas of your life. Moreover, including activities that you like in your routine promotes harmony between your work and free time, which means you feel satisfied and relaxed with healthy emotional well-being.

Furthermore, the time you dedicate to enjoyable activities disconnects you from the pressures and demands of daily life. This allows you to recover your energy and face your responsibilities with a calmer and more positive mentality.

Good time management gives you the opportunity to make room for the activities you enjoy.

Balance your obligations and relaxation time

It’s important to find a balance between the activities you enjoy and your responsibilities, so you can enjoy your free time and improve your efficiency and overall satisfaction in every area of your life.

In conclusion, learning to manage your time effectively is an ongoing process. Instead of blaming yourself when your schedule doesn’t seem to work, try to adopt a growth mindset and focus on solutions. Recognize your progress and maintain a positive attitude toward your improvement.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Aeon, B., Faber, A., & Panaccio, A. (2021). Does time management work? A meta-analysis. PloS one16(1), 1-20.
  • Bondanini, G., Giorgi, G., Ariza-Montes, A., Vega-Muñoz, A., & Andreucci-Annunziata, P. (2020). Technostress Dark Side of Technology in the Workplace: A Scientometric Analysis. International journal of environmental research and public health17(21), 8013.
  • Brigitte J. C. Claessens, Wendelien van Eerde, Christel G. Rutte, & Robert A. Roe. (2004). Planning Behavior and Perceived Control of Time at Work. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 25(8), 937–950.
  • Chu, J., Qaisar, S., Shah, Z., & Jalil, A. (2021). Attention or Distraction? The Impact of Mobile Phone on Users’ Psychological Well-Being. Frontiers in psychology12, (61), 21-27.
  • Häfner, A., & Stock, A. (2010). Time management training and perceived control of time at work. The Journal of psychology144(5), 429–447.
  • Liu, F., Xu, Y., Yang, T., Li, Z., Dong, Y., Chen, L., & Sun, X. (2022). The Mediating Roles of Time Management and Learning Strategic Approach in the Relationship Between Smartphone Addiction and Academic Procrastination. Psychology research and behavior management15, 2639–2648.
  • Parke, M. R., Weinhardt, J. M., Brodsky, A., Tangirala, S. y DeVoe, S. E. (2018). When daily planning improves employee performance: The importance of planning type, engagement, and interruptions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 103(3), 300–312.
  • Pérez Ibarra, A. d. (2016). La administración del tiempo: una prioridad en la vida. Revista de la Universidad de La Salle, (69), 193-205.
  • Sandoval-Reyes, J., Acosta-Prado, J. C., & Sanchís-Pedregosa, C. (2019). Relationship Amongst Technology Use, Work Overload, and Psychological Detachment from Work. International journal of environmental research and public health16(23), 4602.
  • Thomas, N. M., Choudhari, S. G., Gaidhane, A. M., & Quazi Syed, Z. (2022). ‘Digital Wellbeing’: The Need of the Hour in Today’s Digitalized and Technology Driven World! Cureus14(8).
  • Throuvala, M. A., Pontes, H. M., Tsaousis, I., Griffiths, M. D., Rennoldson, M., & Kuss, D. J. (2021). Exploring the Dimensions of Smartphone Distraction: Development, Validation, Measurement Invariance, and Latent Mean Differences of the Smartphone Distraction Scale (SDS). Frontiers in psychiatry12, 642634.
  • Wilson, A. N., Olds, T., Lushington, K., Petkov, J., y Dollman, J. (2015). The impact of 10-minute activity breaks outside the classroom on male students´ on-task behaviour and sustained attention: a randomised crossover design. Acta Paediatrica, 105(4), 181-188.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.