Let’s be frank. Most likely you’re reading this page because you believe you suck at time management. (But don’t fret, there are time management tips that will help!).
Honestly, you may actually suck at time management. Most of you definitely do not give yourself enough credit toward your capabilities. However, you’re probably sick of how it’s negatively affecting your life.
Bad time management frequently creates problems with:
The list goes on and on. What’s tough is that you know you want to change, you don’t like the situation you’re in, and maybe you feel a little miserable.
In your mind, the stigma behind successful planning and time management reigns. You believe successful planners possess these traits.
- They are very structured.
- They know what they want in life.
- Very productive at work and home.
- Tidy car, house, workspace, etc…
- They are always on time.
- They get good grades.
- Always seem in control of their lives.
Then we have you. Maybe you’ve mastered one of the items on the list above. It’s possible you are the complete opposite of the list above.
It’s possible you view yourself as lazy, unmotivated, unstructured, disorganized, always late, fly by the seat of your pants, impulsive, and messy. Learning time management tips and tools feels impossible.
You can be good at time management with a messy desk!
You know what? You’re not hopeless. I possess more traits on the second list than the first.
Naturally, you’re curious then how in the world I’m a time management expert. You may not believe but you need to read my story because I was you not that long ago.
(This article contains affiliate links; if you click on items and purchase them, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, read my disclosure.)
Table of Contents
From Lazy to Master of Time Management
I’ll tell you one thing. There is definitely value in learning time management tips at a young age.
My primary caregiver as a child could not take care of herself. Don’t get me wrong, she did the best she could with me.
But I like to think of it like the oxygen mask demonstrations they provide before taking off on an airplane.
“Secure your own mask, and once it’s in place, help others.”
Because she couldn’t care for her own needs, she certainly couldn’t teach me how to do it myself.
Thankfully she loved me enough and recognized this, thus I transitioned to foster care at the age of seven. I was relatively lucky, though, in that my foster placements were minimal and a lovely family adopted me two and a half years later.
My new family had a very different outlook on time management and productivity.
Both parents were traditionally ‘Type A’, the house always clean, work always complete on deadline, and everybody on time. Or better yet, thirty minutes early.
By middle school, it was evident there was a significant power struggle between my natural tendencies and my parents’ desires.
My parents KNEW I was smart, creative, innovative, and clever.
Yet I was failing classes, my room looked like a bomb went off, and I forgot things all the time. There were countless arguments at home. I poured my time into video games, cartoons, music, and writing because I just couldn’t face reality.
15 years later, things weren’t much different. I shuffled from therapist to therapist. I dropped out of college four times. And I lost jobs.
I hit rock bottom twice.
I didn’t know what to do. The traditional time management tips and techniques failed me. There had to be a path to success.
Stubborn Creativity Won
Thankfully, I’m very persistent. That, and I didn’t want a crappy life.
I tried countless time management tips and systems in the past with limited success. And even though I continued to fail, I still sought out methods and systems in hopes that the right one would pop out and slap me in the face.
So I kept pushing forward. I found supportive therapists. I learned new skills and continued on the path to self-education. And slowly, though unintentionally, I pieced together time management methods that work for the creative brain.
I’ve had people tell me they envy my time management skills, and it takes every part of me not to laugh because everything in life felt hopeless a few years ago.
The system that eventually worked is truly a conglomeration of techniques, some of which wouldn’t be considered typical time management tips. And the longer I’ve lived in this system, the more I’ve noticed something when it comes to time management.
There was a key problem when it came to courses and books that help people to succeed in planning successfully.
The most common time management tips, strategies, and techniques leave Type B individuals in the dust.
Well, I have a Type B personality…. and it explains so much about why most strategies I tried failed me miserably.
If you have no idea what that means, or even if you’re Type B, keep reading.
A isn’t for Awesome, B isn’t for Bad
Type B people are amazing and they are capable of so many interesting things.
I have no idea why in society we seem to equate that the ‘B’ stands for ‘Bad’.
If you actually look into the history of Type A and Type B personality types and why it was created, you’ll find that initially, the intention of the system was to help determine who was at greater risk of a heart attack.
This actually isn’t the personality type guide I’d normally go into (I’m a bigger fan of the Myers Briggs Personality Indicator myself), but I find a lot more people are aware of this system and firmly believe they fall on the spectrum of one side or the other.
The Type A individuals historically possess many traits that are considered valuable in businesses and schools. Common descriptions include:
- High Achievers
- Meets Deadlines
Type B people are also high achievers. But they have completely different needs and desires they need to meet before they will achieve.
And there are tons of awesome qualities Type B people possess!
Type B individuals are:
Ironically, in the past, many scientists believed ‘Type A’ individuals were at higher risk of heart attacks due to increased stress and pressure!
Good News Is, You’re NOT Hopeless!
So, does that mean if you’re Type B, you’re doomed? Absolutely not. Focused and motivated Type B individuals bring a lot of value to the table and accomplish many amazing feats. And Type B individuals are fully capable of learning time management tips that benefit their needs.
If you don’t believe me, many successful entrepreneurs are Type B! You might be thinking “Really? But they seem so driven and focused!!” And you are totally right, they are! But take a step back further and think about how their natural traits and tendencies conflict in a regular workplace. They hate being micromanaged. They hate feeling cornered in a box. And most of all, it’s incredibly challenging for these individuals to find work elsewhere that wholly satisfies their needs.
Eventually, some get sick of the 9-5 to the extent that they explore their own paths… and generally, they want it so bad that they want to make it work. And quite a few become successful and learn to manage their time well.
However, you’re here because you want to fix your time management skills and have no clue where to start. Don’t worry, you don’t have to hit that point of desperation to get there (though I won’t lie, it can be super helpful!).
The Problem with Most Time Management Tips
Type A personalities typically have a little more natural talent when it comes to planning. They thrive on pressure, deadlines, and do not like to fall behind. It’s not hard to admit; it’s amazing how a few concepts and general ideas can help them spring to life.
So why are so many time management tips, books, and courses tailored to them?!?! They aren’t the ones who NEED it. Type B personalities need a little more guidance and hand holding.
They need realistic expectations and creative solutions. Type B individuals also do not enjoy feeling pressured, rushed, or boxed into one way of doing things. And they also need to know that there isn’t one specific way of achieving success.
So what is it that makes people with Type B personalities fail so frequently when it comes to time management, productivity, and planning? Much of the typical time management tips and productivity courses tend to exhibit these qualities:
- They are very linear
- They do not explore multiple methods of reaching objectives
- Programs generally do not provide empathy toward participants
- The programs are impersonal
- They don’t teach you how to do things you don’t like
- They tend to assume people already have a general grasp of time management.
Unfortunately, the lack of many of those natural tendencies tends to turn off the concept of time management to the Type B crowd
I mentioned in my story that over time, I accumulated a lot of information in my quest to improve my time management. The various techniques that are super valuable to the Type B individual aren’t necessarily tools commonly utilized for time management in general. That said, I wholeheartedly believe all seven time management tips provide purpose and direction in our lives.
1. Learn Realistic Planning Expectations
I believe lack of unrealistic expectations when it comes to Type B time management is a large barrier to success.
Realistic Expectations Include:
- You don’t need to fill in every box.
- You aren’t going to get all the things done.
- Just because it’s in your planner does not mean it’s going to happen.
- You will likely fall off the wagon frequently
- Finding the specific techniques that work for you isn’t a fast and easy process
- Your brain can’t be in high power mode all the time; relaxation and taking breaks is necessary
- Multitasking makes it harder to concentrate
Yet, we don’t teach these concepts in time management!!!! I don’t know if it’s because the concept could be perceived as lazy or excusable, but the problem is many recommendations aren’t super realistic. Nobody finishes everything all of the time!!! Not even the most organized and productive people out there do this.
One thing I’ve noticed is that unhealthy Type A people do not like to admit any of the above, so they can cause a lot of unnecessary stress for Type B individuals.
2. Write it Down
My husband and I are both Type B and not naturally proficient in time management. I struggle more with my physical surroundings, while he struggles with mental tasks and scheduling.
When we did pre-marital counseling, we filled out a 12-month plan as part of the therapy. While we didn’t follow the plan with a microscope, at the end of the 12 month period we completed many of the objectives on that list.
Well, fast forward a couple of years. We now have a toddler, live in a tiny apartment, and life feels a bit meaningless. We’re struggling.
So on our own, we made a new 12-month plan hoping it would help. This time we put the plan on the wall and wrote information down as we thought of it. That silly, disorganized timeline was a wall decoration for months. However, at the end of the year… again, we met the objectives on the list.
We both have new jobs. We have a higher income. And now we are moving to a house. And this happens just because we write it down?
There is power in writing down your plans. Plans written down are more likely to come to fruition. Don’t believe me? This study here actually measured goals and success rates for people who wrote them down versus people who did not.
My husband and I certainly didn’t observe our plans carefully… but obviously, the desire to do what we wanted was stuck in our heads enough that we made it happen.
3. Develop Long-Term Goals
Now I recognize doing the above suggestion every few years in desperation to change can get a bit old.
This point expands a little further on the writing it down concept.
Right around the time I started this blog, I did a long-term goal exercise. The exercise had me sit down and write down pretty much anything I’d like to accomplish in my life. The exercise also encouraged me to not judge what I wrote down… and when I removed those judgments, it was astoundingly easier to do this exercise.
Want to know what this exercise did for me?
It gave me some direction. It was as when I thought ahead prior to the assignment, my life was fuzzy and unclear. And now, I feel like I have a clearer image of who I will be 5, 10, and even 20 years down the road.
If you’d like to know more about thinking big to develop these goals you’d like to accomplish in life, the book “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David Schwartz is for you. It’s actually where I did the exercise I mentioned a few sentences ago! People get so scared to do the things they’d like to accomplish in life because they are afraid they will fail. Many valid fears stem from poor time management.
If you aren’t willing to expand your mind to where life can take you, you won’t accomplish anything. So if you want to be successful in life and figure out time management, determine the amazing things you’d like to do in your life.
Once you do figure out your long-term goals, you should work on breaking down those long-term goals into smaller, breakable chunks. I wrote some about how to do this process in a bullet journal, which you can here.
4. Connect to Your Purpose
Type B people do not do something for the sole reason somebody told them to do it.
Ironically, that probably makes these particular individuals less likely to do what is requested of them.
So, if constant nagging and reminders are a turn-off, how can the Type B group get anything done?
They learn to do unnecessary tasks consistently by connecting with to their purpose.
When a person has a purpose and long-term goals, it’s much easier to work in the present. When you love something so much that you don’t consider it work, you aren’t going to feel as much boredom or resentment, which are frequent problems that lead toward poor time management skills.
So how do you connect with your purpose?
This excellent book called “Finding Your Element” from Ken Robinson helps you find what your purpose and passions are by converging your natural talents along with your personal interests.
5. Accept That You Won’t Like Everything You Do
Extenuating from finding purpose, there are still going to be tasks that you’ll have to complete that you don’t enjoy.
Now, this isn’t necessarily something people could consider to fall under the spectrum of time management tips, yet this is a huge barrier to success!
Part of connecting with purpose means that if you want to accomplish the things you want to do in life, you are willing to accept to do some of the unpleasant activities required to reach those goals.
Now I recognize this is easier said than done. Most likely, this is one of the most challenging parts of mastering time management tips if you are Type B because if you don’t want to do something… it can be really hard to get that activity done.
On the other hand… accomplishing nothing notable in your life isn’t exactly a pleasant thought, either.
This concept is actually something I struggled with for a long time. I believed that people actually enjoyed cleaning and organizing, thus explaining why they did it so frequently.
For both tips 4 and 5, one tool that proved extremely beneficial in my journey was Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT. ACT teaches individuals how to come to terms with their situations by accepting thoughts and emotions instead of trying to push them away. The therapy also helps you see the ‘big picture’ of your life, so you can understand and apply the techniques you’ll learn toward the activities and skills you want to participate in.
While I never had acceptance and commitment therapy, one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read follows the principles in a way that’s easy to understand and implement. The book is called “The Happiness Trap” and beyond teaching the principles, this book does an astounding job of helping you see the big picture of your choices.
6. Improve Focus
One of the most resounding responses I received when I asked one of my communities what’s the most challenging time management task is “inability to focus”.
Why does the Type B crowd struggle with focusing in particular? Well, deadlines aren’t of absolute importance. We aren’t taught effective time management tips, skills, and tools as children to help improve focus.
These strategies aren’t all necessarily connected with time management in a traditional sense. However, all of them offer some assistance working toward some of the most challenging aspects of time management for the Type B personality.
Have you ever stopped to think *why* you have trouble with time management? Do you know the specific pitfalls that occur when you try to implement techniques?
It’s a huge reason why I love the bullet journal system and how it’s been so beneficial for my mental health. As I’ve been able to understand myself, I’ve been able to find better solutions to fix my problems.
Common problems that people have with time management include:
-Unfilled duties at work, home, or school
-Frequently late for events and appointments
-Adding too much to your schedule
-Not getting much work done
For me, I’m usually pretty punctual. I really struggle feeling overwhelmed and I tend to do too much at once, thus I’ve been working on protecting my schedule and meditating.
Also, I’ve been devouring the book “Know Yourself Like Your Success Depends on It” and I love how it encourages you to delve deep into yourself and learn what struggles cause you to stumble in time management.
Start Small and Break Up Tasks
If you have a big task that takes a total of 24 hours and there are six different types of work involved, looking at this as a whole is a bit unnerving. I know a lot of people who mean well but procrastinate because they have no idea how to tackle the workload effectively.
In fact, for Type B individuals, starting is often the challenging part.
One of the techniques that I love for time management is the Pomodoro technique. This well-loved technique utilizes working in boosts of time with small breaks in between. You choose the task prior to starting, set a timer (traditionally 25 minutes), work on that one task, end when the timer goes off, and take a short break when finished.
What’s cool is if even 25 minutes seems intimidating; start with 5-10 minutes on the timer.
If you want to read more, check out the website here!
Avoid Task Switching
Did you know that every time you switch to a task or allow yourself to momentarily focus on a distraction while doing something productive, it takes at least 13 minutes to get back to that activity?
How many times do you check Facebook in an hour? Or check your email?
Now, let’s put that into your workday. You’d be surprised how challenging it is to do work effectively if your brain constantly has to recover from distractions and task switching.
This isn’t a plug to get rid of social media. But that’s why methods like the Pomodoro Technique mentioned above are so helpful! You force yourself to focus on one thing for the dedicated amount of time.
Make sure to schedule specific times for checking email or social media accounts. When you are doing any activity (whether fun or productive!), fully immerse yourself while doing it. Don’t switch tasks or fall slave to distractions.
Can meditation really help you focus?
Studies show it helps improve calm and focus.
Additionally, meditation improves social skills, self-control, reduces anxiety and depression, improves health, and boosts happiness.
Personally, I struggle with quiet meditation. However, I recently started listening to Chel Hamilton’s ‘Meditation Minis’ podcast (which you can find on both iTunes and Spotify). It’s very enjoyable because most meditations don’t take long (less than 20 minutes), but also because it’s guided meditation. Chel provides the music and the words. All you have to do is sit quietly, listen, and put the imagery to good use.
Follow the 80/20 rule
Did you know that we have a tendency to waste time on a lot of unnecessary activities that do not get us anywhere to achieving our goals?
Have you ever heard that 80% of our efforts account for only 20% of the results we try to achieve? We waste a lot of time on unnecessary tasks that pretty much give us no results.
On the flip side, that means that 20% of our effects account for 80% of the results we achieve.
The corresponding book, “The 80/20 Principle” helps you learn how to eliminate the “less productive” parts of your work life, school life, home life, and helps you determine what tasks matter most.
7. Realize You Have to Want It
There are a lot of Type B people who seriously desire to fix their time management woes. Thus, a lot of the techniques offered in this article tend to address the unique issues that tend to cause people to stumble.
But there is one other point that needs to be addressed when it comes to time management.
Ultimately, you must want to pursue this journey. Why?
If you don’t want it, it’s going to be much more challenging to succeed.
Only you can make the choice to improve your life.
Your parents can’t make you. Your spouse can’t make you. Even your boss? They can’t make you.
If you are reading this article because somebody else puts pressure on you to fix your laziness and you want to improve because you’re sick of being hassled, I understand your trouble! I dealt with this for years. I wanted to change, but it was mostly to get somebody off my back because they kept nagging me repeatedly. And because in my heart I didn’t want it for myself, every single attempt failed.
If you’re in this position, don’t feel doomed. Eventually, I got to the point where I wanted to make the change myself because, let’s face it, nobody wants to live a boring and ordinary life. I finally had to accept that if I wanted to live the life I wanted, that I had to make the adjustments necessary to do so. It was up to me to take responsibility.
If the way you live doesn’t bother you, it doesn’t affect your wellbeing, or affect how you live your life… you shouldn’t feel pressured to be something you aren’t. I understand that’s easier said than done, but I really recommend finding supportive role models who accept you and help you learn to accept yourself.
And if you come back later deciding you do want time management help, I’ll still be here with open arms!
Time Management Tips and Strategies Resource List
Here is a resource list of all the time management tips and strategies mentioned in the post. This list also includes some other resources that may prove valuable NOT discussed.
As I recognize everybody has different learning styles, I’ve tried to incorporate many different styles that fit your learning needs the best way possible!
(Resources will be added as I come across more tools; please continue to check back for new items on the list!)
Happiness Trap (or you can even try this book in their illustrated guide!) – This book follows the principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to help you get out of your head and into real life by doing the things you love and enjoy!
Eat that Frog – Many terrific tips and tools on how to manage your projects, especially the ones that you don’t like to do!
The Magic of Thinking Big – Excellent resource for envisioning your life as a whole and writing down (non-judgmentally!) the activities and goals you want to accomplish in life.
S.M.A.R.T Goals Made Simple – How to set measurable goals that are attainable and achievable.
10% Happier – Learn how something as simple as meditation can make serious improvements in your life.
Finding Your Element – An excellent book which helps to discover your purpose in life!
Know Yourself like Your Success Depends on It – A valuable resource which explains this importance of self-analysis and how learning more about yourself can improve your own time management!
From Busy to Balanced – My friend Jen has this amazing productivity course that is perfect for the people who are busy or overwhelmed. If time management isn’t your thing, but you need more hands-on assistance, this is a perfect resource to help you make the productivity improvements you need.
Skillshare– Skillshare has lots of helpful videos on many topics, but there are so many awesome time management tips and productivity videos and workshops.
- Maximize Productivity with Planners or Bullet Journals: This course includes a lot of excellent time management tips, in addition to using those tools with your planner or bullet journal!
- Organizing Your Life: Time Management (Getting More Done): Lots of great tips for making small changes that improve time management.
- Get Productive: Hacks, Strategies, and Tools: This one is my absolute favorite because the teacher goes into so much amazing science behind time management!
- Productivity Strategies for Success: I’m actually in one of Dana’s groups on Facebook and I love her style. This course is tailored more toward the creative entrepreneur, but many of the topics are universal.
Trello is such a fantastic option for both work projects and home. You can create boards for tasks, reminders, and projects. You can assign attachments to them (no more emailing yourself back and forth), due dates, categories, and even checklists. If you’d like to see a more comprehensive overview of what that looks like, you can check out this post from The Balanced Mama here!
Even better, joining Trello is totally free!!! So there is really nothing to lose by giving it a try!
This awesome app is great for writing down long-term goals and breaking them down into smaller, attainable tasks. The website even calls it’self ‘the notebook for lists’.
I love that it’s creative, digital (you can do this as an app or use it on their website!), and there is no wrong way to use it! Oh, and again, I love that it’s free! You get 200 free bullet points every month by signing up with this link right here!
Remember how I mentioned the value in learning about yourself and your habits? Toggl is a terrific app that helps tell you what you do on your phone. I bet many of us are on our phones regularly (most of you are probably reading this on your phone right now!).
This goes back to the concept of self-analysis mentioned in an earlier tip. If we know what is causing us to waste our time, it makes it much easier to find a solution to combat it.
As well as tracking the time on your phone, you can also attach this to your desktop, so you get an awesome overview of what you are doing when you’re using electronics!
Meditation Minis- My favorite tool for fast, guided meditations.
10% Happier- This podcast based on the book in the above list. Dan offers guided meditations and interviews on people who have improved their lives using his techniques!
Beyond the To Do List- Conversations with everyday people who talk about the methods that improve their productivity, thus improving their work and personal lives!
Productivityist– Offers time management tips, tools, and strategies to help improve your productivity to new heights!
Paper Gazer- My friend Rachel is also a bullet journal blogger, however, she also has tons of great productivity and time management tips that anybody can find valuable!
My Adaptable Career- My friend Emily offers lots of creative tools to help improve time management! Her blog is tailored more toward the entrepreneur; however, many of the tools she recommends I’ve been able to incorporate into my everyday life.
The Productivityist (in blog form!)– So the podcast is pretty amazing. But so is the blog! A lot of posts on this blog focuses on the personal development, self-reflection side of time management that is so powerful.
Time Management Tips to Get You Started
Beautiful and inspirational image by bumblebujo!
Now you have access to many of the tools that I love which will give you a few steps forward to success. Remember that this process is a journey and that it can take a while to find what suits your needs best.
Have you already started a journey toward improving time management? I would love to know the time management tips and resources that are helping you, so if you have any to recommend please do so in the comments below!
PS- Want to know more about some of the beautiful notebooks you saw in the article? Check out the Bullet Journal Glossary to learn more about them!
If these time management tips helped you,
help others by sharing on Pinterest!!!