4 time management tips to work smarter not longer

Even though my kids left school years ago, I’ve always been impacted by the back to school vibe. Just like in school, it’s a great opportunity to use this symbolic period to take some refresher classes.  I decided I needed to go back to school and focus on some time management tips.


We all often complain about not having enough time. Me too. For many of us time is our most valuable commodity. So now seems a good moment for me to review some time management basics to make concrete changes to the way I go about things. With a good foundation of best practises firmly in place I intend to create a new and better time management plan for myself. When we value our own time and the time of others, the tendency is that this approach will be reciprocated.

Here my back to school 4 basic time management tips:

 Carry out a personal time audit

  • Keep a log of how you spend your time on a typical week day.
  • How does this change at the weekend?
  • When are you most and least productive?
  • What tasks could do with a little more time spent on them or survive a cut ?
  • What are you spending time on that you don’t really enjoy, or  tasks you enjoy but have no value?
  • When are the main points in the day you waste time?
  • Using this evaluation, decide how do you want to redistribute your time.

Identify your priorities

  • What are your goals?
  • Create a to do list that reflects as many steps towards meeting those goals as possible, not just what needs doing or you like doing
  • Put these essential task at the top of the list,  as well as tasks that you like doing. Facebook is fun, but unless you work for them or it is a genuine professional tool, this should go low on the list

Identify tasks, distractions or individuals that eat into your time

  • Identify anything which causes a regular, repeated drag or drain on your time. These could cover technical glitches, workload peaks, routine tasks that could be outsourced, unproductive meetings or even people. We all have individuals in our lives who are time wasters and energy drainers. Whether they are your best friend, a colleague or a report, be clear who they are and be willing to tell them

In a formal business environment set clear guidelines about when you are free for unscheduled meetings, taking calls out of the office, when you will have your phone switched off and will respond to emails. This is easier with seniority, but even at a junior level your boss should appreciate your structured approach. That’s OK for you, I was told. You are your own boss! So ask him or her:

Turning off my email alert signal was one of the best things I have ever done to reduce distractions. Just as I know that chocolate contains calories, I know I’m going to get emails most minutes of most days, and most of them are not important.

Schedule down time

One of the biggest time-eating traps is not scheduling time off.  Big mistake. We all need to disconnect, have enough sleep, exercise, eat healthily and make time for things that matter to us  – whatever they may be,  to simply re-charge.

So as the summer fades away, why not go forward into the winter with a new game plan

Need help with your time management? Check out the individual coaching programmes!


6 thoughts on “4 time management tips to work smarter not longer

  1. Alli Polin

    All spot on, Dorothy! Years ago, I moved out of consulting and HR and one of the senior consulting leaders I worked with had made a similar move a few months before I did. His one piece of advice for me is that the work will always be there, the to-do list is never ending. It’s up to me to decide my cut off for the day – will I work until 5, 6, 7 or midnight. He told me to set my own boundaries or the work will choose for me. It’s advice I’ve carried with me for almost 20 years.

    Love your insights and suggestions here!!

    1. Dorothy Dalton Post author

      Thanks Alli – we all have different time management challenges – for some it’s starting -others the reverse!

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    1. Dorothy Dalton Post author

      Thanks Julie for your comment. I agree we are in challenging times – it’s not great and I long for “business as usual.”

      I finally made a decision to step out of a neutral, purely business position on social media to support the issues I felt strongly about. I am a Brit living in Europe for over 30 years after all. I felt I needed to show support for the “Remain campaign.” As someone who understands the impact of social media, I did so in the full knowledge that there could be consequences. I wonder how many HR proessionals understand that to the same degree? I think we will see that some are going to be shocked. Our social media profiles and activity will be factored in all sorts of ways we never anticipated.


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