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Ten Essential Time Management Tips

Time Management

Time Management

Over the past six years, I’ve picked up a lot of time management tips. Some of them have been helpful and, frankly, some have been useless. Here, I’ve compiled the ten that have served me best. And yes, I’m sure you’ll have heard some of them before … but are you actually doing them?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re self-employed, employed or a student: over the past six years, I’ve been an undergraduate student, a full-time employee, a part-time postgraduate student, and a freelancer – and these tips work for all those situations!

  1. Three Important Things
    This is the “big rocks first” technique of scheduling your three most important tasks into your day and letting everything else flow around them.

In case you’ve not come across the “rocks” analogy before, it goes like this:

You’re given a jar, three large rocks, a handful of pebbles and some sand. If you pour the sand and pebbles into the jar first, there won’t be room to force the rocks into it – but if you put the rocks in first, the pebbles can flow around the rocks, then the sand can be poured in to fill the gaps.

If you have a PDA or phone that you can type on, try using that instead of a notepad – you can transfer your notes to your computer. 

If you’re struggling to concentrate on work, set a timer for twenty minutes, and see how much you can get done in that time. Twenty minutes of concentrated work can be more productive than two hours of fiddling around.

Experts now believe that it’s better for us to concentrate on one task at a time, rather than multi-tasking: every time we switch between different tasks, we have to refocus – and we’re also likely to get distracted. 

“Pay yourself first” by spending an hour before work each morning on your goals – not on household chores. (If the chores really need to be done, you’ll get them done in the evening.)

Some people can function well with under eight hours sleep, but most of us need to be getting at least seven hours.

Don’t make the excuses that you “don’t have time” to do this – it’ll only take a few extra minutes during the day (simply make a note of the time you start and end each task) – and it can reveal some uncomfortable truths about where you’re spending the bulk of your time.

If you find yourself checking emails whenever you’re stuck or procrastinating, then set yourself rigid times to read and reply. You could try 11am and 4pm – it’s unlikely that anyone really needs a reply from you at 8am.


Many of us find delegating stressful, so here are some tips on how to do it right.

Which of the above ten tips work for you? Have you got a favorite time-management tip that’s not on this list? Let us know in the comments…

Written on 12/28/2009 by Ali Hale. Ali is a professional writer and blogger, and a part-time postgraduate student of creative writing. If you need a hand with any sort of written project, drop her a line ( or check out her website at Aliventures. Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks
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