• Jessica Pettingill


Updated: May 23, 2020

So you can be more productive and accomplish your dreams.

Having a busy life can be hard to manage. Most of us have multiple parts of our lives we are trying to juggle and I think we've all heard people say "you just can't have it all."

But do you ever wonder how some people manage to do so many things? Maybe they don't sleep or maybe they're super humans...

But the truth is we all have the same number of hours in the day. So how is it that some people seem to excel at productivity while still maintaining their family and personal lives and others of us struggle just to meet our deadlines at work and school?

Below I go over my top nine tips for conquering time management for a more productive, balanced and stress free life.

#1 Take Inventory of your Time

Just like creating a financial budget, it's important to take stock of where your time is going. Once you have a clear idea of what you're spending time on, you can begin to intentionally allocate or budget your time.

Some ways to start tracking your time include turning on screen time on your phone. Seeing just how many minutes (or hours) you spend on social media can be very eye opening.

You can create a time management journal or keep track of it on your phone. Write down how much time you spend watching tv, checking emails, doing housework, commuting to work etc.

#2 Create a Morning Routine and Stick to it

Waking up early has A LOT of benefits and can help set a positive tone for the rest of your day.

Benefits of waking up early include:

  • Creates more time which allows for a more peaceful morning. Think how good it would feel to no longer have to rush out the door every morning!

  • It allows time to be more productive so you have less on your plate throughout the day. For more tips on increasing productivity check out my post here.

  • More time to do the things that you want to do but don’t always have time for.

Being mindful about your routine is the foundation for building a mindful life. If you have a hectic schedule (like me) starting your day earlier and with a solid routine can help with time management and productivity leaving you feeling more in control of your days.

For more detail on creating a morning routine check out 5 Morning Habits That Changed My Life.

#3 Try the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Method has you work on tasks in 25 minute increments. It’s a great strategy for knocking out school and work assignments.

To get started set a timer for 25 minutes. During this time only focus on the task at hand. When the timer goes off take a five minute break and then repeat with another 25 minute focus session.

The thinking behind this is that the brain can focus best in short bursts rather than prolonged time periods. After a couple rounds, take a longer 15-30 minute break before getting back into it.

I find this method helpful when you have a big project or task to complete. It can be overwhelming to think of all the things you have to do. This way you trick your brain into breaking the task up into bite sized pieces. Only having to focus on what you can do in the 25 minute period.

#4 It Only Takes Five Minutes

The hardest part of completing important tasks is often just getting started.

Whatever the task may be that you are dreading jumping into, just give yourself five minutes to start.

Telling yourself you only have to work on this project or task for five minutes gives you an 'out' if you really aren't feeling it. More often than not however, once you get into the flow of things you don't want to stop!

This strategy works wonders for me as a procrastinator at heart. Whether it's a school assignment, housework, errand or sitting down to start a blog post. Starting always seems to be the hardest part.

#5 Make a To Do List

With our lives being so hectic, a lot of times we have so many things we have to do floating around in our heads. This can create a lot of unnecessary added stress. So what do you do?

Write it down! I am a to do list addict and have multiple to do lists in my planner, on my desk and in my phone. Don't overwhelm yourself with too many lists at first! Experiment to find what works for you.

I recommend Designating time in the morning or the night before to write down everything you have to do that day. Keep it with you so you can add to it throughout the day when new things pop up.

Sometimes just getting things out on paper and out of your head can be the defining factor of an organized and productive day.

#6 Learn to Say NO

Demands from work, school, family and friends can get overwhelming. If you feel pulled in too many directions it may be time to say no.

Saying no can be hard, especially for us people pleasers. But it's important to prioritize your commitments and keep your goals in mind. Do you really have time for this? Is it serving you and your goals to say yes?

Just remember, saying no to people or things sometimes doesn't make you selfish. How can you possibly accomplish your goals and lead a balanced life if you're giving too much of yourself away?

OK, so how do you actually say no? Being honest and direct is the best approach. Most people are understanding if you just tell them how you're feeling. Although trust me I know this is easier said than done... and it's ok to have a couple excuses up your sleeve just in case!

#7 Stop Procrastinating

Often times I find myself procrastinating my whole to do list because there is one thing that I really don’t want to do. I end up carrying around the stress of knowing I have to do this one thing with me all day (or sometimes all week!)

Whether it’s doing your taxes or sending an email, whatever the task is that’s causing you anxiety just do it! I like to make a point of doing the thing I really don’t want to do on my list first. That way it’s out of the way and the rest of my day is much more enjoyable.

It's important to do things before they become urgent in order to maintain control of your schedule. One of the best ways I know to add stress to my day is rushing around trying to get things done last minute! So just do it!

#8 Time Blocking for the Win

If you’re like me, juggling work, school, side businesses and personal life, it can be hard to find time for all of it without shriveling up into a little ball of stress.

The way I combat this while making time for everything in my life is with time blocking.

This is something that is personal to you and you have to play around with it to find what works best.

I divide my days up into 5 main sections:

Morning 4am - 5am

Work 8am - 5pm

School 6pm - 8pm

Biz/personal - weekends

Night 9pm

If you want to get super crazy with it you can even color code your time blocks! Color coding is seriously my favorite thing to do! I block these sections out in my planner and then write down what I have to do in each section.

For a more in depth overview of time blocking check out this post here.

#9 Know That You Don't Have to be Perfect All the Time

In our culture, it's easy to believe that if you aren't busy all the time then you're being lazy. We brag about our busy schedules and how full our plates are. But this simply isn't a healthy way to think.

First, Being busy does not necessarily mean being productive. After taking inventory of how your time is spent, it's easy to see that our days are full of busy work that doesn't enrich our lives.

A lot of time management is just learning to recognize the things that are not serving us and cutting them out of our schedules and our lives.

It’s OK to Netflix and chill, take some time to scroll through instagram and to make time for self care, (which I talk about more here.)

It’s also important to know that life doesn’t always go as planned and that’s ok too. Just because you have your days planned out to the T doesn’t mean you can’t still be flexible if need to be.

We are all just doing the best we can, and sometimes it can feel like a struggle just to keep our heads above water, but when put into practice, these tips can help make it a smoother ride to accomplishing your dreams!

#inspiration #productivity #livingthedream #goals #goaldigger #hustle #bossbabe #girlpower #motivated

Hi! I'm Jessica.

I'm just a normal person sharing the lessons I've learned from life so far. I somehow manage my hectic work, school and personal schedules all while staying organized and writing this blog. I am a computer science major with a passion for graphic design. If you're interested in hearing my organizational and lifestyle tips as well as the awesome things I get from target sometimes, then feel free to sign up for my email list below.

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