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Are you the self-confessed procrastinator? Or the ‘how is it lunch time already?’ asker? Does your work-life balance need adjusting? At risk of burnout? Or are you a manager looking to get the most out of your team?

Time management is about more than completing your to-do list. Smart time management is about building for yourself a sustainable work-life outlook that enables you to stay on top of your task list, have a positive approach to work and maximise the value you create.

Truth be told, reassessing your time management should be a regular habit rather than a one-off solution to a built-up problem. Proactively considering how you can use your time wisely will not only see your performance improve, but also reduce your vulnerability to stress, enable you to learn faster and achieve meaningful goals.

Here’s what we think you should do to ensure you’re working efficiently, effectively and contentedly.

Be honest with yourself

No one likes to admit a weakness. Especially in the workplace. Being honest with yourself and getting a real picture of exactly how much of your time is productive and counterproductive is the first step you can take to getting a hold of your time management. What’s more, breaks are productive, you just want to watch out for distractions like social media, music, excess conversation and general disturbance.  

Set realistic goals

We’ve all done it. Written down a whole A4 list of tasks and felt like a failure when we don’t complete them. Setting goals that can feasibly be achieved is the key to maintaining motivation and productivity. A leading time management advisor said that we should set ourselves a maximum of five hours of work to do in a seven-and-a-half-hour day. This allows you to dedicate time to ad-hoc jobs, tasks that overrun, emails and other administration that we often overlook when planning.

Set schedules not deadlines

By time-bounding a project or piece of work with a deadline, you are focussing on ‘the finished product’ rather than the process. Often, you will work right up to your deadline even if you could complete the task way before. Try the Pomodoro Technique-short bursts of highly productive time, usually 25 minutes-long followed by a five-minute break- and see the results. Working as hard as you can, ignoring temptation or distraction, for a short interval makes you totally focussed on the task, knowing you have a break upcoming.

Use an app

Many apps have popularised the Pomodoro Technique in providing timers, instructions and organisation tools. Put simply, it works. Hours, RescuetimeLite and Momentum are three free apps that we recommend you use when trying to manage your time wisely.  


This is especially important at times you have a busy workload or have just returned from holiday. Going through tasks chronologically or succumbing to colleagues and clients demands to respond can often create more problems. Splitting your tasks up into urgent and less urgent will enable you to prioritise your time. Further splitting tasks into important and less important will determine whether you can delegate something elsewhere.

Know yourself

We all have off-days, writers blocks, unimaginative hours and moments when we just feel *sigh*. Recognising this and accepting that we don’t have to be on-the-ball every second of every day, is key. If you consistently ‘hit a wall’ at 15:00, try changing your routine. Take lunch later or have an activity lined up after work that you look forward to. Small changes to your daily habits will keep you fresh, focussed and efficient.