3 Advanced Time Management Strategies To Get Work Done That Aligns With Your Goals


Does your to-do list get longer instead of shorter each day? Do you wish you had more time but struggle to use it well? Do you review your week or day and see many cool things you spent time on, and yet you don't consistently achieve the goals you set for yourself?

How can you use time management strategies to make sure you are doing your most important and valuable work and not just think of time management as a mechanical scheduling process?

The solution might be in the 3 time management strategies we're sharing below.

Peter Drucker's 3-Step Process For Time Management

Peter Drucker (1909-2005) was an Austrian-American consultant who was widely known for his management ideas. He suggested a 3 step approach to time management for knowledge workers & busy executives in his book, The Effective Executive.

Here's the exercise suggested by Peter Drucker that you can use to increase the effectiveness of your time

Step 1: Record what you do with your time

It’s important to know exactly what you’re doing with your time not from a high level, recalling from memory, but by actually keeping a record. Without data, we are poor at estimating how much time has passed and tend to unknowingly exaggerate the number of hours we work or assume we’re wasting more time than we really do.

The simplest way is to use an app like Sunsama where you keep your task list and start a timer whenever you pick up the task. To improve your time estimation, you can put how much time you plan to give to a particular task under 'Planned' and at the end compare Actual and Planned time.

Sunsama tips: Account for underestimation by adding 20% to how long you think it will take you to something. Break down a big task into sub-tasks, so it's easy to estimate & keep track of progress.

Step 2: Weed out time-wasters

Sunsama gives you a consolidated dashboard of where you spent your time. You can configure it to show at the end of every day or revisit it during your weekly planning.

Remove nonproductive, time-wasting activities from your schedule by asking three diagnostic questions wrt. activities you recorded:

  • What would happen if this were not done at all? — If the answer is 'nothing', stop blocking time for these.
  • Which of the activities on my time log could be done by somebody else just as well, if not better? — If you are being paid for your unique skills, and impact on the business you can’t afford to get distracted by tasks that someone else can do. This is especially true for executives who should delegate tasks to increase not just their own but the overall effectiveness of the organization.
  • What do I do that wastes my time without contributing to effectiveness? — Weed out anything that wastes yours or others time.

Step 3: Consolidate time

We need fairly large chunks of time for focused work and be effective. A 2-hour block is not the same as four 30-minute blocks. Meaning, small chunks of time spread throughout the day will not be enough even if the total is a vast number of hours. So reserve blocks of time for completing a specific task or group of similar tasks.

For example, take all your meetings from 2-4 pm, & review the submitted work from 4-6 pm. You can change the duration of each block depending on the load that day.

Instead of taking a daily time blocking approach, you can also block certain days of the week for particular tasks. Schedule operational work — meetings, reviews, and feedback for two days of the week. Set aside the first half of two days for consistent, impactful work. Keep a day for tasks that were left unattended during the week.

Remember to leave some gaps for any spillovers, and unexpected tasks coming in between.

The 4D System

The 4D time management strategy is a way to categorize your work into 4 different action buckets — Delete, Delegate, Defer,  and Do —  to help you filter tasks that are neither important nor urgent, set priorities, and optimize work processes. This is a slightly modified version of Peter Drucker's system which was developed for executives. The 4D system is suited for small teams, managers, and individual contributors.

Before you start sorting tasks, pull in your meetings from the calendar, and tasks from project management tools, look at backlogs & do check your email or Slack for any message that's a task in disguise. With Sunsama, all these can be done seamlessly with your daily planning ritual.


Start by deleting tasks that won't make a difference to your personal or professional life if they are not done. It may seem confusing because how did a task make its way into your task list if it were not necessary.

But the key is to take a second look at your list and consciously trim it. Look for that meetings that don’t concern you or a call that can be replaced with an email. Ask yourself, is it really important for you to reply to each and every email from someone asking to ‘pick your brain?’


Delegat your work, if:

  • You can find someone who can do the task at least 70% as well as you can
  • You think someone can do it much faster and better than you

Delegating is one of the hardest skills that new managers, and first-time entrepreneurs are required to develop to manage their time efficiently.


Can a task wait without affecting any dependent tasks and you are pretty sure you would have a chance to get to it when required? If yes, schedule it for some other day. When you defer work, you free yourself from the anxiety of trying to do things that couldn't be done anyway.

In Sunsama, it's pretty easy to defer tasks by dragging them over to tomorrow's column or deferring it to a date of your choosing with the snooze menu.

Choosing what to defer requires good judgment and estimation skills. Before you defer, ask yourself — are you deferring this task because you are not in the 'mood' to do it today?  Are putting it off because it will take too long or you don't like it at all? Choose a pragmatic approach if you are unsure.

This is especially effective if manage a team, own a business, and control which tasks get priority. If you are part of a larger team, you can ask your manager to help you assess & categorize your work according to team priorities and act accordingly else you would be at risk of job burnout.


After deleting, deferring, and delegating you need to actually do what's left on your list. These should be tasks that are urgent, important, and have an impact on your work. Before you pick any task, you can prioritize your list so you only work on one thing at a time without getting distracted.

Weekly Planning

The caveat in using any of the techniques mentioned above is that these are useful if you can figure out exactly what you need to do, and what making progress means for you.

Instead of starting with daily planning, start with identifying how you want your life to look like, and what are your values and principles that drive your life. You can do this exercise once a year. Once you have a vision, start with setting short-term and long-term goals (monthly or quarterly). Then break down these goal into weekly objectives to plan your day-to-day tasks that align with those objectives.

If you use the Sunsama app, it will prompt you to plan your week on Monday morning via an in-app notification.

You can pick a different day and time from your account settings page. If you like to reflect on the previous week and plan the upcoming week all in one sitting, you can combine the weekly review ritual and the weekly planning ritual by changing simple account settings.

Here's a detailed weekly planning ritual guide.

Striving for Perfection is Futile — All You Can Do is Experiment

Initially, we might fail to achieve what we want, and are tempted to give up and ‘go with the flow.’ When implementing any time management strategy, you can’t allow perfection to be the enemy of the good.

People who seem to be efficient in the same time as you might have simply have a gentle but focused approach towards it. They want to get as close to the ideal of time management as they can instead of mastering it one hundred percent.

And instead of giving up they probe what kind of a routine suits them and examine the nature of their work. They experiment with different methods, tools and routines until they find something that works for them. Why don't you experiment with Sunsama app today? it offers a guided daily planning process with all of these techniques baked in and will help you create an efficient plan.

You can signup for a free 14-day trial without putting giving credit card.

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