Good time management enables you to work smarter, not harder, so that you get more done in less time even when time is tight and pressures are high.
While poor time management leaves you stressed out, stretched thin, not performing at the level you desire, putting off family time, or self care and leaves you feeling exhausted or overwhelmed.
This is why improving your skills around time management is so very important. Not just for you but for all the people who depend on you too. Let’s dive into nine strategies to help you achieve better time management for better work life balance.
WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER
The difference between good and bad time management
How to achieve a work life balance that fits with your life
Finding a time management system that works for you
9 overlooked tips to effectively manage your time
FEATURED ON THE SHOW
Hello, hello, welcome to Happy Productive. I’m Jennifer Dawn, a business coach and the founder of Best Planner Ever. The Happy Productive podcast is your go-to resource for learning how to bring awareness into your productivity, your goals and your time management practices, so you can set yourself up each and every day for as much love and happiness and joy as you can possibly handle.
Now today, we’re going to be talking about the 9 overlooked time management tips for better work life balance. So let’s just start right at the beginning, what exactly is time management? Of course, I went to our good friend Google. And what Google has to say about this is that time management is simply the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between specific activities. That’s it, it’s not going to get any more complicated than that. Good time management enables us to work smarter, not harder, so that we can get a lot more done in a lot less time, even when time might be tight, or we are under high pressure, right? That’s what we can do with good time management.
Poor time management, however, is going to leave us stressed out, stretched too thin, not performing at the level that we really, really desire. And we might even find ourselves, putting off that family time or putting off our self-care, right, because we just don’t have time. And that often will leave us feeling really exhausted or overwhelmed. I know that was my life for many, many years. And if you’re in that right now, it’s just not really a good place to be. And we don’t want that. I don’t want that for myself. I don’t want that for you guys. Which is why the process of improving your skills, because it really is a skill, around time management is so very important not just for you and your health and your sanity, but also for all the people who depend on you as well.
So let’s dive in and let’s talk, we understand what time management is. So let’s talk a little bit about the how, right? Because that’s really where the rubber meets the road. And what matters is the how. We can understand the concept. But the “why” is really a why it’s important. But how how, how do we do this? So how do we manage our time in everyday life with all the pressures and the challenges that we’re faced with? So I like to drill this down into 3 main points. You guys know me, or if you do know me, you know, I like to keep things simple, because when things are simple, I can wrap my brain around it, and I’m much more likely to implement it than then when things get overly complicated.
So the 3 main points when we talk about managing our time, our number 1, having a clear vision with measurable goals, right, and having them where you can see them every single day. If you haven’t done the work, to really get clear on what the vision of your life is, becomes very difficult to manage your time because you don’t really know where you want to go, what that outcome is the road that you’re on, like what’s the destination And that’s where a vision and measurable goals really helps bring that clarity into your day to day. So when you’re managing your time you know what you’re managing.
Number 2 is using a really good proven time management system. Now of course I use my daily planner which is Best Planner Ever. There are so many planner choices out there, I highly recommend that you find one that really really works for you. A planner is a personal choice. So you really want to find one that works for you. But you need a good time management system. You might also find your time management system is a combination of a paper planner and maybe an electronic calendar. I certainly have an electronic calendar because of my business. It’s just impossible these days to do business without one. However, my paper planner is really the number 1. So even if something gets on my electronic calendar, it goes into the paper planner. And that’s really where I run my business and I run my life from so that I’m looking at one place to run my whole life. I’m always going to one place and that’s what makes a good time management system really work is that you’re not scattered in multiple places. And you know sticky notes everywhere and trying to do things in multiple planners, journals, you know, appointment books, whatever, that’s what makes a good time management system good is that you can run as much as possible or everything from one place.
And number 3, it’s about practicing good daily habits. And what I mean by this is identifying those bad habits and then replacing them with good ones. That won’t happen overnight. But again, we want to bring awareness into our daily habits. Look at the ones that are not serving us look at the ones that really cause us to waste a lot of time and replace them with good daily habits that support effective time management practices. Now, if you do all three of these things, you’re gonna absolutely set yourself up for success which is like way better than just trying to shoot from the hip and figure it out each and every day. So that’s, you know, around time management.
But let’s talk a little bit about the balance part, right? Where does the work life balance part come in? And I know we hear experts these days, maybe you’ve heard them I certainly have that say, you know, work life balance is a myth, or they say it’s not about work life balance, it’s about a blended work life, whatever, okay? They all make good points, they really do. But I do think that we need balance in our lives. This is a balance between our work and a balance between our play. Balance between our responsibilities and a balance between having fun and taking good care of ourselves. And so we’re not going to get you know, too caught up in the terminology here. I think you get what I’m talking about here, when we talk about balance.
Now, there always seems to be just this endless to do list. I don’t know about you, but in my life, there just seems to be so many things. Always coming at And sometimes it can feel like if you keep up in one area, it’s really easy to fall behind and the other. And this is where time management really can be so helpful because there’s definitely an art to it. And like with any art, it does need to be practiced. Now, for me earlier on in my career when I started my first software company, and even when I started having my second software company, I used to work every single day from one big list. So I’d get up in the morning, you know, make my big giant list for the day. And then my whole day was all about how much I could cross off that list. I was, you know, running nonstop day after day after day.
And I really thought that I was highly productive because I did meet my goals. I set goals for my business and I met those goals and I grew my business to 7 figures. But what was happening is that my personal life, my spirit, my soul, my sanity are really in truly suffering. And so, yes, I was taking things off a list and I was meeting some of my goals, but there are so many other areas of my life that were suffering, and I did not have that balance. And so now I do things very, very differently. And I’ve made the switch from trying to get, you know, volume, high volume of so many things done each day. Instead, I’ve switched to quality, I try to get those right things done each day.
And that’s really what I focus on. And because of that, the right things might be tasks, of course, in my business, but the right things might also be self-care, time with my family vacations, time out riding my horse, like all of these things that are really important to me to have a fully balanced life. But to make that switch, it doesn’t work if you don’t know like, what’s the difference between what’s the right thing for me to be doing today and what’s just busy work. And this is a question I had to ask myself too and the answer was my vision, right?
This is where it really starts. Because I know I certainly never slowed down long enough to think about what I really wanted my whole life to look like. I was all about setting goals and my business, but I was really, I had no clue about setting goals in my personal life or having fun, or putting self-care as a priority because at least for many entrepreneurs, we hear a lot more about it today than we used to. It used to be you know, if you stopped for lunch, you are lunch. And entrepreneurs were just working, working, working. And now I think there’s been a big shift, which is really good into doing that self-care. So when you show up for your business, or your career, whatever it happens to be, or maybe it’s a school if you’re a student, that you’re showing up in a good place.
But if you don’t slow down long enough to really think about what you really want your life, your whole life to look like, where you’re headed, the outcomes that you want. You can’t possibly know what those right things are to get done each day, right? You can’t know which road do I go down if you haven’t gotten clear as to that final destination. It’s like, you know, looking at a map and just driving around the country and not having any idea where you want to go, you know, you’re just going to kind of be doing circles and getting lost. Now, when I created my Best Planner Ever, this was a feature that I really couldn’t find in any other planner. I could find appointment books, I could find journals. I could find, you know, day planners, I could find all kinds of things, but I couldn’t find anything that had my vision, right at my fingertips so that before I sat down to plan my day, I could do a quick check in and I could check in with my vision and I could check in with my goals and I could be reminded about where I wanted to end up.
So think about this for just a second. If you look at your vision board or your vision statement, it could be one or both. And let’s say on there it says I want to work 5 hours a day. And that’s the first thing that you are reminded of you look at your vision, you want to work 5 hours a day so that you have all these, you have time right for all these other amazing things in your life. And then you sit down and you plan out your day with this in mind, you’re going to be so much more likely to hit that goal. On the other side, right? We just will launch into the day are working all these hours, falling into bed wondering what in the heck happened. Because we didn’t have that initial reminder of what we’re working, how we’re working the way that we want to work each day, right? And it’s just, it’s no real way to live and you don’t have that work life balance.
So instead what we want to do is we want to bring that awareness, right, into our time management so that you don’t sit down to plan your day without a clear idea of where you want to end up because today and tomorrow and the day after all these small choices, all these small daily decisions are adding up and they’re compounding and they’re either going to lead you to the vision or they’re not. There’s a great saying like, “where do you want to be in five years, the choices you make today will determine that” and it’s very, very true.
This is why we have a course called Productivity Bootcamp. And this is part of our Goal Achievers membership. And we walk you through creating a life vision. Why? Because if you want to improve productivity, right, the course is called Productivity Bootcamp. If you want to improve your productivity, knowing where you want to go first will drastically improve your productivity, right? Because now when you’re working, you’re working for the right things in the right direction. And then once you have a super clear vision, you can map out your goals from there. And of course, when you do your goals, you want them to be specific, you want them to be measurable.
I highly recommend a single focus goal each month. I do have a focus goal for my business. Just one it’s really hard to pick but you can do it. You just pick one focus goal for my business each month and I pick one focus goal for my personal each month. So I do have two, one business one personal but no more than that. Whatever works for you. The key here is to make sure that when you’re setting your goals, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself. Now, once you clearly know, hey, this is the picture, this is the statement, this is the description, this is what I really want my life to look like. Now you can begin to balance out your time management, between the work and the life.
And balance means the right amount of work that’s best for you, you’ve got to own what works for you. We’re not all the same. And some time management systems are so rigid, I found that they just really didn’t work for me. And that wasn’t again, part of the reason why I created my own because I wanted that balance of the gentle structure, but I wanted the flexibility to move and change within it. So what I mean by this is that, for example, there are some days that I have more time for work and some days less. So my goal is to work, you know, 5 or 6 hours a day that feels really, really good for me. But there are some days where I might work 8 or even 9 hours. And there are some days where I might work 3 or 4. And what I mean by gentle structure is that I’m never losing sight of the fundamental, hey, I’m going to show up at work, and I’m going to be highly productive. But I want to be flexible enough that some days, it might be a few more, some days, it might be a few less.
I found that if I set a goal and said, I’m only working 5 hours a day, for me, that didn’t really work, but for you, that might work really, really well. And you have to play around with this and find your balance right, what works for you. So I want to give you full permission. Listen to what I’m saying. Play around with it, and find your own balance. There are some days where I have a little more time for play or for self-care, right where I can take good care of myself. Days where I go out to the barn and I ride the horse, and it takes several hours to go out and do that, right. And there’s days when I have that time, but some days, I don’t have that time.
And so my self-care might have to get dialed back and might be, you know, 30 minutes a yoga or a 20 minute meditation and that’s what I have time for. And that creates that balance, though, because I’m never completely dropping the ball on it right. I’m never putting it off and not having it as part of my day. So that’s what we mean by gentle structure. It’s like keeping those fundamentals in your day. They’re really important to you things like you know, self-care and your professional work or school, whatever it might be for you. But finding that balance, for me came from allowing myself to be flexible.
The other thing that I really had to look at was that if I said, hey, you’re going to work, you know, five hours a day or eight hours a day, to assume that I was going to be in the same place emotionally or energetically every single day that didn’t work for me. And so this is where I kind of flex. Because some days, I show up, you know with more energy and some days just because of life I show up, I don’t have as much energy. So giving myself permission to flex, I still have to show up and work but I can flex. That really made a huge difference for me in finding that balance and not being so rigid and finding a flow to my day.
So let’s talk about ways that you can adapt this to you and you can balance out your time management as well. So as I mentioned earlier, when we started I’m going to share 9 overlooked strategies or tips, whatever you want to call them with you today. Now I’m going to use my Best Planner Ever as an example of how to implement these tips because all of these things went into the creation of my daily time management system. But of course, you can use these tips without any planner or time management system that works for you, like I said, make them yours.
Alright, tip number 1 is be clear on your vision. If you’ve never taken the time to you know, create a vision board or create a vision statement, which is simply just a written statement of what you want your life to look like in all areas of your life, your personal life, your professional life, you know, do you want to do give back with your community? What do you want your money to look like? What do you want your health your fitness, your mind body spirit, your relationships, your family, friends, your social life, right? All these different areas of your life? What do you want those things to look like? And writing it down and creating either a vision statement or a vision board or both.
And this is where I’m Best Planner Ever when you open it up, you crack it open those first pages are blank pages so that you can create a vision board right in your planner or you can put your vision statement right in the planner. And then we’re going to take that a step further, you may have experienced this where maybe you have created a vision, but it’s like in the corner under a bunch of books gathering dust, and you never look at it. Well, if you don’t look at your vision every single day, it’s not going to have the power, it’s not going to be able to go to work for you.
And so this is why in the Best Planner Ever, and you could do this in your planner with a sticky note, you could do this with a calendar reminder. But in the Best Planner Ever, there’s a daily reminder at the top of the page to read and align with our vision statement. There’s even a little note there that says” see myself succeeding in everything I do today,” right? I’m going to set my mindset in the right place. I’m going to read my vision, I’m going to be reminded of how I want to work when I want to work what I’m working for, right? So I’m reading my vision, getting in alignment with it every single day and from there, go and plan your day. Planning your day has to be about more than just creating a big giant list and then running around like crazy and crossing things off off that list.
That leads us to tip number 2, which is always work from a prioritized task list but prioritized, okay? In the Best Planner Ever we use the ABCD system. A is a task which is the highest priority it moves your goals and your vision forward. A B is super important, you know, client meetings, vendor meetings, whatever you got to do, that’s important. You’re absolutely going to do it. Those are B’s. C’s are things that actually don’t have to take priority today. They could be moved back to another day. And D is delegate so tasks that you need to get help on, or sent to other people. That’s the D which is delegate. I needed that reminder every day to remind me to delegate to my team because I’m one of those people that just is like, I’ll just do it all myself and that is a backbreaker especially for business owner when you’re trying to grow and scale your business. So, always work from a prioritized task task list. Even if you just create a list on a piece of paper, just run through it and ABCD it and get really, really clear and know that your A’s and your B’s you need to knock those out today.
And no, you shouldn’t have 45 things on your list. Okay, I would shoot for no more than six, no more than 6 things on your list because the reality is, you probably won’t be able to get to a bunch more. Now if one of the items on your list is like you know, catch up on email. Yes, of course, you’re going to sit you’re going to catch up on email for half an hour, and you might knock out 10 or 15 emails, fantastic. So each email is not on the list. The list is you know, catch up on my emails today. Alright, so that’s a tip make sure you’re always working from a prioritized to do list each day.
Tip number three is self-care. Now in the Best Planner Ever, I actually put a meal an exercise tracker on the daily planning page. Why? Because when I sit down to plan out my day, it was really easy for me to plan all the work things that I needed to do. But this is where self-care kind of got pushed aside or tossed out the window. But my self-care is just as important as anything I’m going to show up and do in my work or my business. And if I’m not feeding myself and getting movement and taking care of my body, then I’m not going to show up with the right energy. I’m not going to bring the enthusiasm and the excitement to my business that I want to and this is why self-care is front and center. So each and every day, you know, what are you eating? How are you moving? What other self-care are you doing for yourself, maybe it’s meditation or journaling or whatever else you need. So make sure you bring self-care front and center and you’re bringing that into your day when you plan it.
Tip number 4, keep everything in one place. This is so crucial. This is one of the Best Planner Ever. I created a full page to plan the day because I wanted all elements of my life on one page, some of those little boxes were just not enough room. And it allows me if I’m making sticky notes, you know other places or I have my electronic calendar wherever it gives me enough room, so I can keep everything in one place. So it’s out of my head and it’s on to paper.
Tip number 5, we have to manage our mindset. In addition to our time, it’s not just about you know, time blocking and filling our days with as much stuff as we can. It’s really about getting ourselves into the right mindset to succeed. At the front of the Best Planner Ever, there’s a my mindset tracker sheet where you can list down you know, your limiting beliefs and you can flip them into the belief that you want to associate with. There’s also on each and every single day there’s an affirmation so there’s inspirational quote, and there’s place to set our affirmations right so that we can get our mindset in the right place and line it up with our time management.
Tip number 6, set one focus goal each month. This is in the planner where we have the mind month page. So at the beginning of every new month, there’s a full page to plan out the month. And the very top of that month there’s a focus goal. And it sounds really easy. But for me, this is one of the hardest things is to pick one focus goal for the month. But I find that when I get really clear on what my focus goal is, and I only put my extra time attention and energy into that one goal, I knock it out of the park and I do such a better job instead of trying to split myself between 3 or 5 or 8, you know, goals each month. I really encourage you to try that one as well just set one bigger focus goal each and every month and see how that one works for you.
Number 7, create healthy habits, right? It’s all about looking and seeing well where are the things that are draining our time where are the bad thinking that’s like killing our mindset and then start To set up new healthy habits and so in the Best Planner Ever, of course, there is a habit tracker where we can set a mark for, hey, this is the new habit I want to create. And then we can check a box which is just really fun to say, hey, every day that I implemented this new habit, your habits are everything. Think about this for a second. If you set up a habit, you know, for eating well, every single day, even if you don’t have a goal at the end, you’re going to meet whatever that goal might have been because you’re going to be a really healthy eater. Just simply be it by having that healthy habit in your life every single day. Athletic teams will do this, like they build the habits to win and even if they don’t have a goal to win, they’re going to win because they’ve implemented the habits that they need to use to be winners.
Alright, tip number 8 is use sticky notes. Oh my gosh, I love sticky notes so much. So in the Best Planner Ever on the mind month page, there are these 3 little boxes. At the bottom of that page, and they’re the perfect size for the little one inch sticky notes. And so if I have projects and you know, I want to achieve that in a month, I just put a sticky note on the page. And here’s the beautiful thing. If something pushes back or something, you know, pops up and I have to move a project. It’s not a big deal, you just unstick it, and you stick it on the next month. It’s super easy. I don’t lose track of anything. It’s really easy to be flexible and just move things around as needed. So use sticky notes. They’re totally your friend. But remember, if you use sticky notes, they always have to always end up in one place. When you have sticky notes in your car and by your bed and in your kitchen and all over the place. That defeats the purpose you will not be giving your brain a rest when stuff is all over the place. So even if you’re using sticky notes in other places, just make sure they always end up back in the planner.
And finally, last but not least, tip number 9 is the brain dump. So inside the planner, there’s a brain dump page where you can get out everything out of your head onto paper. And then from there, you can organize it into the ABCDs. It’s just super important when you’re carrying so much around in your head, you’re much more likely to get yourself overwhelmed.
Okay guys, those are the 9 tips. Now once you understand these key essentials to time management, you can use them right to better balance your family time with your school or your work. Remember, align with your vision. It’s the reminder of what you want your life to look like. Make choices each day which are going to lead you to that end result. Use a full page to plan out your day. You want to plan your fun and your self-care in addition to your responsibilities. And finally, don’t forget managing your mindset is what’s going to keep you inspired and motivated. One final note with this, give yourself permission to play around with it, right, find what works for you. I’m always happy to share what’s worked for me but you have full permission to make it yours.
If you need more help with that just consider joining one of my coaching programs. All high performing CEOs and entrepreneurs, we all understand that getting a coach is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. Studies have found that investing in coaching provides an almost 600% return on investment. Wherever you are right now, if you could be 600x better by working with a coach, wouldn’t you want that for yourself? I sure would. You can learn a lot more about my coaching programs at jenniferdawncoaching.com, and if you need a better time management system, be sure to check out the Best Planner Ever. Thank you so much for listening. Now go out there and have a Happy Productive day!