Boost Your Productivity With the Best Time Management Strategies


One of the greatest challenges of productivity is figuring out how to manage your time.

Time management helps you structure your day. Yet there’s more at play than simply building a daily task list and working through it. When done well, the right time management strategies boost productivity and help you maintain efficient working practices in the long term. 

Curious to learn how you can use time management techniques to your advantage? In this article, we’re covering time management best practices and strategies. Read on for key insights into how to plan a productive day. 

What are time management strategies?

Time management strategies are actionable and measurable techniques to help you do more work in less time. They guide how you approach your day so you can effectively work through your task list. If you’ve ever felt yourself drowning in a seemingly never-ending to-do list, the right time management strategy could help organize it. 

These strategies range from batching items on your to-do list to only working on one task during a specific time frame. Good time management helps you achieve a great work-life balance and avoid burnout. You can create realistic daily to-do lists and complete all those tasks without working long hours. You’re aiming for sustained productivity.

Time management strategies vs. time management best practices

Before we dive into the best time management strategies and best practices, it’s important to take a look at the difference between the two.

Time management strategies are actions. They include an actionable step-by-step plan to achieve a goal. They’re concise and specific to your desired outcome. 

Time management best practices are the methods to achieve a goal. These are more generalized practices that work for a lot of different scenarios. 

For example, if you’re trying to reply to as many emails as possible, your time management strategy could be timeboxing your work. A best practice would be removing distractions from your space and putting on noise-canceling headphones so that you can focus. 

5 best time management best practices

The best time management tips are applicable across all working environments and styles. No matter your time management tools or techniques, these best practices will help you better manage your time.

  1. Understand the 4 D’s of time management

The four Ds of time management give you a better understanding of the tasks on your plate by bucketing them into four categories. Each category has a level of importance. It helps you decide what tasks need your attention immediately versus which can wait. Here are the four categories:

  • Do. Urgent tasks should land in this category. They could be returning a time-sensitive phone call or completing a small task that works toward wrapping up a larger project. 
  • Defer (delay). For tasks that don’t have an urgent completion date, postpone them. You still want to complete these tasks, but you have more important items on your to-do list that you should prioritize. 
  • Delegate. This category is for tasks that still need to be completed, but you can’t prioritize them yourself. Delegate them to someone else.
  • Delete. Remove any unnecessary tasks from your to-do list. Spending time in unproductive meetings or responding to flexible emails are good examples. 

You can employ the four Ds of time management daily or weekly—whatever makes the most sense for how you structure your working hours. In general, organizing your task list before implementing a time management strategy is a good best practice. 

  1. Avoid multitasking

It doesn’t matter how solid your time management strategy is, multitasking will hinder your productivity. Multitasking occurs when you try to do more than one thing at once. It can be two very different tasks, like replying to messages and generating an analytics report for your latest project simultaneously. If you divide your attention between multiple tasks, you can’t effectively focus on any of them. 

Multitasking may feel like you’re being more productive, but the long-term impacts skew negative. It can make you more prone to errors and distractible. You might experience a shorter attention span, which makes focusing on your most important tasks more difficult. As you build a time management strategy that works for you, ensure it includes ditching multitasking. 

  1. Pause notifications

Now, it’s not possible to pause your notifications 24/7. You have essential messages from colleagues that need addressing. However, plan periods of your day when you pause all notifications to achieve a deep workflow. If you’re constantly getting pinged, you’re more likely to stop what you’re working on and turn your attention to the message. From here, it’s a slippery slope into multitasking and, as a result, getting less done. 

If you’re a morning person, schedule time every morning for deep work. The same goes for the afternoon hours if you’re an evening person. Try strategically scheduling your deep work for when you’re the most productive and temporarily snooze notifications. 

  1. Remove distractions from your workspace

You’ve probably heard this time management best practice before. In short, the more distractions you have in your work environment, the less likely you are to be able to focus and complete high-quality work. 

The biggest culprit of this lack of focus? Your cell phone. If you work from home, other potential distractions could also be a pet nosing into your office to say hello or a loved one asking a question. If you’re working in person, you might have coworkers stopping by for a chat or your manager wondering about your bandwidth for new projects. 

When handling distractions in your workplace, it’s best to set clear boundaries immediately. If you’re home, close your door and use noise-canceling headphones. Book a private workspace in the office and ask coworkers to send a Slack message before interrupting you in person. Set your phone on silent mode and only check it periodically throughout the day. 

  1. Take regular breaks

We have a limited ability to focus. Our brains can only hone in on deep work for an estimated four to five hours daily. If we continue trying to concentrate beyond that, the quality of our work starts to decline. 

There are a few strategies to help you keep your energy up and mind focused during the work day—ones that don’t include drinking copious amounts of caffeine. First, as we mentioned before, schedule deep work for when you’re most productive. Second, book regular breaks into your schedule. 

It might feel counterintuitive to stop working when your task list is a mile long, but taking breaks helps you be more productive in the long run. They give your brain a chance to decompress. You can go for a walk or scroll on social media. Book these breaks into your calendar, don’t skip lunch, and be willing to ask your team to schedule meetings around your timed breaks. 

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3 best time management strategies

Time management strategies are the techniques you’ll use to become more efficient with your time. You’ll implement one or more in tandem with the best practices listed above. All these factors together will help you boost your productivity. 

  1. Timebox your schedule

Timeboxing is a popular time management technique that fills your calendar with slots, or “boxes,” that hold a fixed task. Estimate a task’s length, then block out that much time on your calendar. During this time period, focus solely on one task, knowing this is the only time period you have to work on it. It’s great for tasks that could go on for an unlimited amount of time, like researching a new project. 

The strategy leans on temporal motivation theory, which states that we become more focused closer to a deadline. With time blocking, the perceived deadline for a task is at the end of the time period you’ve blocked off. 

At the end of each timeboxed task, take a break. Its length can depend on how long you were focused, but aim to break for at least 15 minutes. Now, do it all again. The timeboxing strategy is most effective when you have a tool on deck to guide your task management. Tools like Sunsama block out your tasks within the software, then use integrations with your calendar to easily drag and drop tasks into your schedule. The result is seamless timeboxing for an efficient day. 

  1. Pomodoro Technique 

The Pomodoro Technique is a tried-and-true time management strategy. It includes working sprints of 25 to 30 minutes followed by a short break of 10 minutes. You focus on your work during the allotted working time before receiving a break. The Pomodoro Technique is a great strategy if you experience any of the following:

  • Little distractions that have the potential to derail your focus completely.
  • Overworking a task resulting in less productivity.
  • Enjoy gamifying your tasks.
  • Difficulty focusing for extended periods of time. 

Plenty of tools are out there to help you implement the Pomodoro Technique (this one is a favorite). Ultimately, you just need a timer and a prioritized list of tasks so you know exactly what you’re working on and when. 

This strategy also works great for those with ADHD. It structures tasks into short bursts of focused work before taking a break. Using this technique helps prevent hyperfocusing on a task and losing track of time or being easily distracted. You can adjust the length of your work periods and breaks depending on how easily you can focus.

  1. Prioritize tasks

If you have a massive task list, it can be challenging to know where to start. The solution is a simple one: prioritize your tasks. There are a couple of different approaches to prioritization. Use them all for different circumstances, or pick the best one for you.

First up is eating the frog. This simple prioritization strategy stems from a quote by Mark Twain. The famed writer once said that if you eat a frog first thing in the morning, you’ll continue your day knowing it was the worst thing you’ll do all day. 

When you “eat the frog,” you’re starting with the biggest or most difficult task. You’re knocking out your most challenging task early, so you spend the rest of the day with a sense of accomplishment. Your “frog,” or task, could be scheduling deep work to focus on a big project or doing a task you’ve been dreading. It’s a good strategy for reducing the risk of procrastination and helping you manage your time by doing important work first. 

Next, let’s look at the prioritization matrix. There are a few different styles of priority matrices, the Eisenhower matrix is the most popular, but the general idea is this:

You create a grid with four quadrants. Look at your daily tasks and slot them into each quadrant based on their impact created and effort required. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • High-impact, low-effort: These are “quick win” tasks that won’t require much time but could have big results. 
  • High-impact, high-effort: These tasks are usually more extensive projects. If they aren’t urgent, you can defer them until you have time. 
  • Low-impact, low-effort: Tasks that fall into this category are often low priorities you can delegate out if you still feel like they need completing. 
  • Low-impact, high-effort: These tasks often require too much effort for the outcome they provide and can usually be deleted. 

You can allot your tasks on a daily or weekly basis. You can even implement a priority matrix for big projects, so you know which tasks are the most valuable for you to spend your time working on. 

Sunsama bolsters your time management strategy

Implementing effective time management strategies is a walk in the park when you have the right task management tool. 

Sunsama helps you plan a realistic day with guided daily planning and built-in timeboxing features. Simply attach a time limit to your tasks within Sunsama, then drag and drop them into your calendar. Now, you have a sustainably timeboxed day to support efficient time management. If you book more than 5 hours of deep work, Sunsama will ping you so you know you might have too much on your plate for one day. 

Sustainable productivity happens when you plan realistic daily schedules. Long-term productivity is feasible when you schedule a day with your well-being and energy levels in mind. Sunsama makes doing just that easier and faster. 

Ready to give Sunsama a try? Check it out today.

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