written by: Dr. Filza Swalah, ND
Tick-tock, tick-tock…are you tired of feeling like time is slipping through your fingers? Everybody wants to silence distractions, be productive and conquer their schedules, but sometimes, it just doesn’t happen. Whether you're a busy professional, a student racing against deadlines, or juggling multiple roles, time management is foundational. Let’s discover why and how to manage time better.
Why is Time Management Important?
In an era when time seems to fly by and crawl simultaneously, we've all felt the pressure to do more, be more, and achieve more. But time management is so much more than crossing items off our to-do list; it has a direct impact on our health and well-being. Studies show that those who participated in time management training felt lower levels of anxiety, better mood, and improved sleep quality.1 Not just that, time management and job performance go hand in hand, with it being linked to positive performance reviews at work.2We know what you’re thinking: easier said than done. We know you came for solutions, so here are some tried and true tricks for you to take into your next chapter.
How to manage time better:
Practice mindful meditation
Studies show that engaging in mindfulness behaviour, like deep breathing, can improve attention, memory, executive function, processing speed, and general cognition.3
- If you can, delegate
It’s impossible to be in all places at once and the same is true for all your projects. Delegate to other team members, if you can, or ask for help from your family. This will help decrease the workload and let you conquer those bigger, more grueling tasks.
- Learn to say “no”
If the objective and outcome of tasks don’t align to your goals and role, then politely decline.
- Steer clear of distractions
Watching tv, studying with a large group of friends, and being in a loud café could distract you from focused work. If you have large, “thinking” heavy tasks, try a quiet, well-lit, and ventilated room to help keep you focused.
Find a routine that works, and stick to it, since it can save you precious minutes.
It’s important to establish a regular sleep and wake cycle that allows you to accurately predict when the day starts and ends. This prevents you from delaying things to be done, allowing you to use your time more meaningfully. To optimize your slumber, a melatonin supplement might help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Another area in which a routine could be beneficial is your diet. Find meals you like, and keep them on rotation so you don’t spend too much time deciding what to eat. And on those days when food isn’t a priority, ensure you’re getting all your vitamins and minerals from a multivitamin.
- Make time for breaks
Give those creative juices a break and replenish those energy stores by taking a break.
- Don’t multi-task
Although it may seem counterintuitive, multi-tasking can actually waste more time. Because it takes time and effort to switch back and forth, it could be more effective to just work on one thing at a time.
Try The Pomodoro Technique:4
This method encourages you to work with the time you have and take breaks in between. Here’s how to do it:
- Chose a task to work on
- Set a timer for 25 minutes and only work on that one task
- After the time is up, take a 1–3-minute break.
- Repeat this cycle 3 times
- Take a longer break, about 15-30 minutes.
It’s never too late to master the skill of time management. With a little bit of practice, we’re sure you’ll be knocking things off from your to do list in no time!
- Wang, P., & Wang, X. (2018). Effect of Time Management Training on Anxiety, Depression, and Sleep Quality. Iranian journal of public health, 47(12), 1822–1831.
- Aeon, B., Faber, A., & Panaccio, A. (2021). Does time management work? A meta-analysis. PloS one, 16(1), e0245066. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0245066
- Sevinc, G., Rusche, J., Wong, B., Datta, T., Kaufman, R., Gutz, S. E., Schneider, M., Todorova, N., Gaser, C., Thomalla, G., Rentz, D., Dickerson, B. D., & Lazar, S. W. (2021). Mindfulness Training Improves Cognition and Strengthens Intrinsic Connectivity Between the Hippocampus and Posteromedial Cortex in Healthy Older Adults. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 13, 702796. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2021.702796
- Boogaard, K. (2023, January 18). I hate productivity hacks, except for this one. The Muse. https://www.themuse.com/advice/take-it-from-someone-who-hates-productivity-hacksthe-pomodoro-technique-actually-works