The 7 Most Effective Time Management Strategies

The 7 Most Effective Time Management Strategies

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This is the ultimate guide to effective time management strategies. If you want to get the most out of your time, you are in the right place. In this guide we collect literally everything you need to know about time management and give you actionable tips on how to start improving right now. No matter how overwhelmed you may feel right now, we have a way out.

Unlike most guides online, this is not just a collection of tips. This is a step-by-step guide on how to get the most out of your time. Since time is precious, let’s start right now. Here is what we will cover:

  1. Quick Introduction to Effective Time Management
    1. What is time management?
    2. How can time management be effective?
    3. How to achieve effective time management
  2. Take back control of your time
    1. Remove biases
    2. Daily journaling
    3. Identify buckets
    4. Measure time spent
    5. Think about your desired outcome
  3. Step-by-step Effective Time Management Strategies
    1. Define “North Star” goals
    2. Have a weekly timetable
    3. Identify weekly targets
    4. Plan for the week ahead
    5. Track unplanned work
    6. Manage the output
    7. Do a retrospective of the month
  4. Conclusion
    1. Additional resources
    2. Connect and get help

Let’s start to see what these effective time management strategies look like!

Quick Introduction to Effective Time Management

What is time management?

Before we can even start to think about effective time management strategies, let’s understand what time management is in the first place. And, to do that, we need to have a definition of “time” first.

We know that “time” is something that passes. Philosophically, is what prevents things from happening “all at once”. However, for practical purposes we can say that time is a resource. Just like money, electricity, or industrial equipment.

We normally want to make good use of the resources we have, so we start to “manage” them. For example, if you own a bakery one of your key resources will be your oven. You will want to keep your oven tidy and working, and also try to use it as much as possible. To say it another way, if you use your oven only once in a while, then maybe any oven will do. However, if you use the oven frequently you can start to think “okay then, maybe I want a better oven since I use it all the time”. You will start to think how fast it cook, how well it cook, how energy efficient it is, and so on.

Effective time management is like management of any other resource.
Effective time management is like management of any other resource.

The same reasoning applies in reverse as well. If you get an expensive oven, is because you plan to use it all the time (and hence “spread out”) the cost. In reverse: if you can find a way to use your oven a lot, then you can afford to get a more expensive model. Using the oven a lot means baking more, delivering more pastry goodness to your customers. Consequently, it means that before the oven breaks you have made tons of pastries with it. You made a good use of your oven.

So, to effectively manage the oven, you may want to consider things “once I turn it on, I want to do at least 10 batches of baking”, rather than doing only one. In this way, the time you need to wait to pre-heat the oven is done only once, and then you bake 10 rounds of things. If you do 5 rounds in the morning, and 5 in the afternoon, then you will need to pre-heat the oven twice a day, not once.

Managing time is no different than any other resource. Like any other resource, you have some waste (the preheat period, in case of the oven) that is necessary to put the resource to use (bake things). So, we can now have a definition of time management.

Time management is the collection of techniques you use to be sure you allocate most of your time to the things you want to do and maximize the output on those.

The other important component in this definition is maximizing the output. This means that, even in the time you allocate to the important things, you get the most done. In the oven example, whenever you do a batch of baking, you squeeze in as much pastries as possible in the oven. In this way, each baking batch results in the most pastries. You don’t cram the oven too crowded, otherwise pastries won’t cook well, but also you don’t pack it to lightly, so as not to waste space.

The same is true with time: whenever you are doing something, you don’t want to be overwhelmed – otherwise the quality of whatever you are doing drops. But you also don’t want to be too relaxed, otherwise you are not doing the most you can.

Time management is the balancing of all this.

How can time management be effective?

Now that we know what time management is, the next question is to define effective time management. You can manage your time either effectively or not, so it is important to know what we mean.

First, by “effectively” we mean that whatever we do (time management, in this case), achieves its desired effects. And, in this case, the desired effects are two:

  • Spend the most possible time on the things we consider important, and less on other things
  • Whatever we do (whether important or not), achieve it in the least possible time

This is not black or white, it is a scale of gray. Time management is not either effective or isn’t, but it is a continuous spectrum that goes from completely inefficient to completely efficient. Most likely, you are currently placing yourself somewhere on this spectrum. The job of our effective time management strategies is to move you toward efficiency as much as possible in this spectrum.

Also, since this is a spectrum, it means you can potentially never end. You can always find ways to slightly improve your time management, and that is what you should do. In this guide, we will see how to reap the most benefits quickly, and provide you with a framework you can use to continue to improve your strategies over time.

One important note: this applies to activities where the outcome is important, as opposed to the process. There are some things where you care about the end result. If you are a bakery shop, you care about the quality of the pastries you make (your end result). However, if you are cooking for fun at home, you may want to enjoy the process of cooking, and the resulting pastries are of secondary importance.

When the outcome is important, you should strive to try strategies that minimize the time needed to achieve your outcome. However, if the purpose of the activity is the process itself, as it is in most leisure activities like watching a movie, then these techniques do not really apply. Watching a movie is not the same as reading its summary online: maybe you still get the same takeaways, but the purpose of watching a movie is not to get takeaways in the first place, it is to enjoy the experience.

In this guide on effective time management strategies, we will focus on activities where the important part is the outcome.

How to achieve effective time management

Now that we know a definition of effective time management, we can start to think about how to achieve it. We already saw that this is not something you can achieve once and for all. It is a direction, something you can always improve upon. Nonehteless, we can see how to improve and reach a good state that is much better than the average.

There are a few items that need to fall into places for you to do effective time management:

  1. A clear list of priorities – You need to have an idea of how the items you want to do rank against each other. You need to know what is important and what isn’t, otherwise, you cannot allocate time to what is important because you don’t know what that is in the first place.
  2. An understanding of how you are spending time – If you don’t know how you spend your time, how can you be sure you are spending it in the way you intended? This may seem trivial, but it is probably the trickiest part (we will see later why, and what to do about it).
  3. Awareness of unplanned work and time – Most likely, you will have things that you end up doing even if you did not really intend to. Why is that? Where do they come from, and why? You need to have a good awareness of this. This, as you may imagine, is also tricky.
  4. A strong grip on distractions and interruptions – even if you manage to put yourself to do what you intended to, are you getting distracted? Can you focus on your goal properly? This is important to ensure you achieve the desired output level.

In this guide, we do things in order, and iteratively. In other words, you don’t need to master your prioritization before you can start understanding how you spend your time. This guide will give you a set of things you can do to get better at effective time management.

You should apply the advice of this guide in sequence. First, we start with the most urgent and important parts that are currently preventing you from managing your time effectively. This should give you the most benefit and get you out of the overwhelm if you are there. This is the first section, right after this chapter.

Then, once you are out of the mud, we can work on additional strategies to improve and fine-tune your time management, and even reach mastery. We are not focusing on tools here, but only on what to do and why: you can use paper notes, OneNote, Google Drive, Trello, or whatever works for you.

Take back control of your time

If you feel stuck, overwhelmed, drained, that you have too much on your plate, this is your lifeline. This section will show you how to get out of that quickly, and be in a state where you can start to manage your time.

Remove biases

The first thing you need to do on effective time management has nothing to do with time or planning. It is something that you need to do on yourself before you can even start. And that is: remove biases.

We all have biases: pre-established ideas about people and situations based on previous experiences and feelings. They lead us to ignore the current situation, and this is not a positive outcome. So, before you start you need to ensure you have no bias preventing you from doing effective time management.

This may be clear conceptually, however, what are the biases that affect time management in practice? You may face two kinds: one related to the type of tasks you do, and another one related to your capabilities.

The first bias category may make you question the type of work you are doing, or your prioritization approach. You may think that your work cannot be prioritized easily, it is never predictable, and that you cannot manage your time because “something always happens”. Even worse, you may think you cannot manage your time because each day is too different from one another. All this is dangerous, because it may prevent you from managing your time.

Fortunately, most of this is not really a blocker to effective time management as you would think. No matter how dire your circumstances, time management can benefit you. Let’s go back to the oven example: if you maximize the number of pastries going into the oven, you are maximizing your baking output – whether your oven is a scrappy derelict from 30 years ago or the latest cool model. You should aim to get the best out of your situation, and time management can help you there, even if you cannot apply all the strategies available to other people.

No matter how unpredictable the work, how unclear your priorities are, if you spend some time managing your time you will see benefit. And, hopefully, with time you will continue to get better and better.

The second bias category is a matter of personal attitude and capabilities. Here we have statements that goes like “I am not organized enough to plan my time”, or to have it with a positive spin “I want flexibility in my life, so I don’t want to drag myself down with plans”. This is even more dangerous than the previous category, because you are doubting about yourself.

This guide is about effective time management strategies, it is not a life coaching session. However, you should know that anyone can apply time management effectively. No prior skills is required, nor special tools or software. Not even significant discipline, you can spend just 10 minutes per day on average on this and start to see great benefits. And, as a result, you don’t need to be organized: you potentially need just a piece of paper and a pen.

When people give it the positive spin, this bias seems even a great thing to have. After all, we want to be flexible and capitalize on opportunities. But this is not in conflict with effective time management. If you know your priorities well enough, when a new opportunity presents itself you will be able to evaluate it against the other priorities and decide if you want to take it or not. It will be intentional. In other words, you always have the possibility to scrap your plans, but that should be something intentional: something you decide is the best thing to do (both short- and long-term).

So, spend some time taking in this section. To move to the next ones and manage time effectively, you will need to convince yourself you can do this. No matter how overwhelmed you are, time management will help you take back control of your time.

Daily journaling

The very first step in effective time management is daily journaling. This means keeping a diary that you write every day, where you write what you did that day (thus, you write this at the end of the day).

It doesn’t have something philosophical or emotional, you do not need to spend time articulating your feelings (although you can, if you want to). You just need to start writing down what you did for the day. As simple as that. This will make you reflect on how you are spending your time. The beauty of this approach is that you don’t need to time yourself, or put in place complex tracking system to know how every minute goes. No. You are just getting a sense on where your time is going.

Daily journaling is one of the effective time management strategies you can use.
Daily journaling is effective to detect how you are spending your time.

This is the first step because it gives you enough understanding so that you can start to realize where your problems are. Most people feel overwhelmed and cannot really pinpoint an individual cause: they just have too much to do. With this simple technique, you can start to see what is actually overwhelming you in practice. For example, you may realize that the assignment that requires a lot of effort you got last month is not the main cause, and that you spend a lot of time returning phone calls instead. Whatever it is, this bring you awareness.

If you want to go an extra mile on this, you can also journal at the end of the day the priorities for the upcoming day. What do you plan to do tomorrow? This is highly recommended, because if you do this constantly you can start to think “Did I accomplish what I set out to do? Why, or why not?”. This gives you even more insight on how you are using your time: it becomes apparent if you have last-minute activities that come in and disrupt your plans.

If you were to implement only one small change in your life to get better at effective time management, then it should be daily journaling. Once you have been journaling for at least a week (consistently, hopefully) you can move to the next step: identifying buckets.

Identify buckets

Identifying buckets is a way to get serious about effective time management. A “bucket” is a category where you throw in a bunch of tasks that you do. Different people will use different categories, although some tend to be common for most individuals.

Since you have been journaling, you will have at least a general sense of where your time is going, what it is being spent on. Now, it is time to make an additional effort and think about categories, or buckets, to group your tasks. Each bucket should be something that is consistent for some time. The same list of buckets should apply for your entire year, or at least a few months, and you should not need to change it day-by-day or week-by-week.

For example, a bucket can be “home chores” where you put laundry, doing groceries, cleaning the floor, and so on. This is constant, you will continue to spend time on tasks that go in this bucket week in and week out. In a more professional setting, another bucket can be a project: you do multiple tasks that support a project. The project will end eventually, and you will no longer need the bucket, but for the foreseeable future (say, next few months) you have it and use it. Aim to have 4-8 buckets, don’t be too specific.

The goal in this stage is to identify the “macro areas” of your life where you are spending time. This is important, because with this you can start to see some trends emerge, and you can start to correlate activities that apparently are independent (i.e. two completely unrelated and different tasks, that support the same project in the end).

Additionally, once the buckets are clear you can now start to make tradeoffs between them. This is as part of managing priorities, which we address later in this guide. For now, spend time identifying your bucket and be sure that this list of buckets is something that you think will stick for months without having to change any buckets. If you come up with more than 8 buckets, then you need to be more generic and group some buckets together.

It is important that you start with journaling first, and then bucketing second. If you start with buckets, you will define buckets you think you are doing, but that are not there for real, or are actually something different. Instead, if you start with journalling first, you will be able to see patterns, and then define buckets based on those patterns.

Once you have the buckets clear, you can move to the next step. My advice, however, is to let those buckets sit for a few days and see if changes (renaming, moving some activities from one bucket to another) come to mind. Also note, 8 buckets is somewhat the maximum guideline, but if you have fewer that is totally fine.

Measure time spent

Now we are starting to get serious about effective time management. It is time for you to measure how much time you spend on every bucket. This may seem daunting at first, but it does not have to be. We are about to see a quick and almost effortless way to do it.

Before checking how to do it, let’s see why. At this point, you already have an understanding of how you are spending your time, and you know the relative size of buckets. You know you spend more on X than on Y, and that X takes about half a day every day. However, you don’t have much details beyond that. This steps helps you get the details. Those details are needed because they will provide you with the real time available to you, and how you are spending it. If you don’t do this, you will assume you have a given amount of time for your priorities, while in reality it is less than that.

Think about an oversimplified example: if you want to go to the gym you can allocate 1h for it. That seems great, 1h of workout is a good deal after all. However, factor in that you need 10 minutes to change yourself once at the gym, 15 minutes afterwards to shower and change again, and 15 minutes of commute each way, and you are left with only 5 minutes of workout within the hour.

So, if you want one hour of workout, you should plan for that hour plus the additional 55 minutes of commute and changing yourself, so a total of 1h55m. This is not obvious in more complicated situations, and this is why you want to build awareness.

Now, how do you measure time spent? There are many techniques. Ideally, you should have a stopwatch next to you and start it when you work on something, pause it while you are having a break, and then resume. This gets cumbersome fast, and hard to manage, even if it yields the most price results. A great starting point is to note the time when you start working on something, and note it again when you finish, then calculate the difference.

Measuring time is the next step in effective time management, it adds precision.
Using a stopwatch is the best way to measure time.

To do this, you need to limit context-switching. This means that you should try to condensate all activities in the same bucket at the same time, one after the other. Ideally, you will want to do all bucket A for the day, then proceed with all bucket B, and so on. If this is not possible, strive to have the least changes of buckets possible, so that you need to keep track of items only.

Once you collect the time allocated to each bucket, log that into a table. Here you can have one column for each bucket, and one row for each day. I suggest to measure this in minutes if you are using Excel, because they are easy to sum and do math operations (i.e. it is much easier to sum 90 minutes with 20 minutes than adding 01h30 with 0h20). Do this for about a week, so that you can start to see some patterns and trends.

At this point, you will have enough information about the current situation so that you can make informed choices for the future.

Think about your desired outcome

It is time to make informed decisions. This is the pivotal point where you take back control of your time, because you decide how you want to spend it. Here, you should not focus on time yet. You should focus on priorities.

What are the most important things in your life that you want to make happen? Maybe your priority is your family, hence you will want to spend time cultivating the relationship with them. Maybe you want to develop a new product for your startup, maybe you want to get a promotion at work. Most likely, you will have multiple conflicting priorities.

For example, you may want to get your promotion at work, and spend quality time with your family. There will be times when the extra meeting at work can help your career at work, but you have already planned a family outing that evening. If priorities are unclear, this is where you struggle and start to feel overwhelmed.

So, start to list your top priorities in life, ideally 3-5. Then, spend some time to rank them in order. Those priorities will stay around for a while, they are big and they not change overnight. However, their order may change. In some parts of the year you may want to prioritize more X, in other times you want to prioritize more Y.

Coming back to the previous example, if you spend all your time off with your family easily and never work overtime, then the rare time you are asked to do an overtime meeting you may take it. This is because you are already giving enough priority to your family, and just one occasional meeting will not damage that, while it can help you with your other goals in your job. Conversely, if you are always late for meetings, the relative priority of your family becomes more and more important, as the time with them is limited and hence more precious. Thus, foregoing one more hour with them becomes detrimental, and you probably are better off not taking the meeting.

This is an example, and the level of priorities differ from individual to individual. But it shows that the order or priorities can change with time and circumstances. However, start with an order that feels right in this moment.

Note that here we are talking about priorities, not about specific goal “I want X to be done by date Y”. Priorities are more directional; these are things like “I want to be fit and healthy” rather than “I want to lose 20lbs by end of the year”.  Once you have your priorities clear, it is only at that point that you can start to apply effective time management strategies. This is what the rest of this guide is about.

Step-by-step Effective Time Management Strategies

Define “North Star” goals

The first step takes your priorities to the next level. Once your priorities are clear, you can start to define some goals around them. However, those are “North Star” goals only.

In navigation, the North Star tells sailors where the North is (if you are navigating in the northern hemisphere). You navigate toward that star and go North, however you will never reach the star itself. This is not really a problem, in fact the whole purpose of following the North Star is not reaching it in the first place. It helps you decide where to go.

North Star goals are just like that. They define something you want to achieve at an aspirational level, even if getting there is not realistic at this point. In effective time management, a North Star goal should be something you accomplish in 1-6 months, but that you are not secure how long it will take exactly. It differs from priorities, because priorities just set a direction and cannot really be reached, while a goal can be reached eventually.

So, if your priority is to be healthy and fit and you are slightly overweight, then you can have the goal of “losing X pounds”. Yet, this is not time-based. You don’t want to put a date on this. You want to have a goal that you feel, taking an extremely conservative approach, can be accomplished in 6 months to a year, but most likely will take between 1 and 6 months. This is important, because you avoid the stress of obsessing with meeting the date: you have no date, just a rough indication that it won’t be more than 6 months.

Personally, I suggest 2 to 5 North Star goals. I update and revise mine monthly. Some months, I carry over the same goals to the next month. Other months, I remove them because I completed them or they are no longer important, and replace them with new ones. North Star goals effectively set the priorities for the month.

Have a weekly timetable

Next step, or next strategy among our effective time management strategies is the weekly timetable. Daily plans can be precise, but it’s easy to disconnect them from priorities. Monthly plans can be perfectly aligned with priorities, but they rarely get implemented. Weekly is just about right.

However, this has some implications. If you want to plan what to do to support your North Star goals, you need to know how much time you have available. Let’s say our goal is to read 50 books in a year. How much time can you allocate to it? 1 hour per day? 4 hours per day? This will influence your goal. And, the time you can allocate to what is important to you depends on how you are allocating time right now.

Timetables are great time management strategies
Timetables will help you understand the time that is available for you.

Most likely, you will need to do groceries and other home chores, sleep, and go to work. You should have a good understanding of how much time you spend in each category because you accounted for it when taking back control of your time. So now you can list that, and see what is the time left.

What you can do is to pick your average week in a calendar and start to block out time with various known activities: work, sleep, eating, and so on. If you are lucky like me, most weeks have the same commitments and structure, so I need to create this timetable only once. If you have a flexible schedule changing from week to week, you can do this only one week for the next.

And even if you are full of changes day to day, you can start to make a plan and then adapt it with time, potentially changing it every day when needed. Since you have been tracking your time for a while, now you should know well enough the average time left for your priorities every week.

Remember, the goal of this strategy is to identify the total time you can allocate to your goals every week, and ideally have it broken out per day.

Identify weekly targets

Say you find out that you have 8 hours left per week to allocate to your goals. Now, it is time to identify some weekly targets. Unlike north star goals, the weekly targets should start and complete within a week. They are very specific. Again, if your north star goal is to lose weight, you may have a weekly target of running 20 miles over the course of the week.

I recommend starting with north star goals in mind and create your targets linking each to the goal. Do that in a list, with a rough idea of how much time each target will take to accomplish. Then, rank them in order of importance for this week.

When defining weekly targets, be sure to have them specific with a clear definition of success. “Run” is not a great goal, “Run 5 times this week” is better but still not there. “Run 5 times this week for 4 miles each” is what we are looking for. Either you achieved that, or not.

Once you have your targets defined and ranked, you can start to put them in your timetable. Be generous with the time associated to each target, and if some targets are left out that’s completely okay: you put the most important in first, so what you are dropping for this week (sadly) has to go. Next week you can repeat the same exercise, including any goal that was leftover from the previous week. As you do that, remember that a target skipped the previous week does not have by default more priority than one that you just created.

Plan for the week ahead

This is really another spin to the “Identify weekly targets” strategy. In effective time management, planning is key. Specifically, planning for the week ahead means putting specific activities on specific dates at specific times,

While doing this, you should start in this order:

  1. Any external commitment you have that is unavoidable: work, sleeping, eating, doing groceries
  2. Some slack, you do not want to have 100% of your time allocated but only about 80%, because planning is never accurate
  3. Your weekly targets
  4. Everything that is not a weekly target

If you have enough time, you will use everything in all four categories. However, if you have not, you may need to drop non-weekly-targets, or even some of your lower priority weekly targets.

Track unplanned work

This is another interesting point. In fact, one of the key effective time management strategies is focused on unplanned work. You will see, as you start planning, that in the end the week doesn’t turn out the way you meant it to be. How is that possible?

On one side, you are probably committing estimation mistakes. This is common, estimates are indeed estimates and thus they are never particularly precise, let alone matching reality. However, there is a subtler thing to look for: unplanned work. Most of the time, you don’t finish what you were planning to because something unplanned comes up.

Maybe you wanted to create a great report on the sales of last month, but your boss walks in with a late-minute asks and diverts your attention. Maybe you planned to read, but in the end spend 1h on the phone with your telco provider to try to clarify a bill that you think is incorrect. Maybe you are getting home, but the bus you take normally is not operating for road works and you need to take two busses, lengthening the commute. There are so many ways things don’t go as planned.

Manage unplanned work to avoid it clogs your system and prevents you from doing things that matter.
Unplanned work can be dangerous, this is why you need to monitor it closely.

What we need to master is how do we intake unplanned work? Start by simply documenting in your journal whenever you are doing something that was not originally planned. Then, looking backward over the week, you can reflect on which items could have been avoided.

Most of the time, things that come up don’t need to be addressed immediately. For example, if you get the strange bill from your telco operator, you will want to address it as soon as possible, but not necessarily now. Can it wait for next week? Probably yes. On the other hand, some emergent items cannot wait at all. If your partner has had an accident and you need to carry them at the hospital, that cannot wait. Even more mundane things like the bus detour: you cannot really wait for next week to get home today. Yet, most things can be deferred to the next week.

So, take note of every new items that pops up and do not work on it. When planning for the entire next week, consider this new suggested item in the prioritization with others, and see which North Star goals is supporting. Additionally, when a new unexpected task arises, keep track where did it came from. Was there someone dumping this task on you? Was it an external circumstance, like in the case of the bus or the accident?

You want to have a clear idea of what are the sources of your unplanned work, so that you can manage them effectively, set expectations, and define timelines to do this unplanned work. Unplanned work is your enemy, so you should reduce it as much as possible.

Manage the output

At this point, you are doing everything right in terms of time allocation. And yet, even if you can nail everything down, you can still not achieve much. This is because all effective time management strategies are not really effective unless you manage the output.

Let’s make an extreme example: say you can allocate 4 hours per day to your priority of reading books. How many books can you read per week? If don’t know how to read, you will read exactly 0. The same is true for any other task, if you do not perform the task properly you will not achieve the desired outcome, or achieving the desired outcome will require more effort and/or more time.

To be effective in time management, you need to have all the resources you need to succeed, beyond time. So, if you are working on an important research project you may want to have access to the Internet, a laptop, and maybe do it in the library of the university that has all the docs you need to read. You can do this at home, or in a noisy café, and you will achieve your goal, but you will need to put in extra effort and probably need more time.

Some situations you can’t control. Others, you can. Focus on what you can control to make sure you are optimizing your output. There are a few tips to consider here:

  1. Remove distractions, such as phone notifications, noise, or even music. No matter how you feel, focusing exclusively on the task at hand is the best way to maximize output.
  2. Do not multitask. Pick a task, get it done, move to the next.
  3. Try to find a quiet environment where you can do what you need to do.

Maximizing the output by itself would need its own article (let me know if you are interested). In short, however, for effective time management, try to consider in any allotted time unit how much time you are truly productive and how much you are not. Then, relentlessly find ways to reduce wasted time.

Do a retrospective of the month

Finally, once you have all this in place, it is important that you do a retrospective of the month. That is, you look at the previous month and see what went well and what didn’t go well. You should specifically sit down and review your North Star goals, identify the ones you accomplished, and the ones that you didn’t (and why). Is it because they take up more time, or because you did not plan properly? Did some unplanned work come up?

I like to do this with a one-paragraph narrative. I reflect over the previous month and write everything down, just a few sentences to summarize the status. Then, I write one more paragraph to define what I expect for the upcoming month. Even here, something simple and quick to grasp. Even if I just write two paragraphs in total, this process takes me about 30 minutes, because I truly need to reflect on the situation and find a way to articulate it in writing clearly.

Once this is done, I define the North Star goals for the month based on the second paragraph, which is a narrative plan. Sometimes, goals carry from one month to the next. Other times, the carry to a reduced amount (i.e. You have in January “Prospect 100 leads” and in February you only have the remaining “Prospect 18 leads left from January”). Other times, I do not carry over the goal at all. This can be because I have discarded it, but also because I have achieved it and there is nothing left to do.

You will need to find your balance for the size of goals. If you are starting, maybe having larger goals that take long time to accomplish is the safe bet. My personal preference is to have goals that last 1-2 months and try to open them and complete them within the same month.


Additional resources

I would like this to be the ultimate guide on effective time management strategies. So, I want to collect here all the resources that I consider helpful in this context. Please reach out to me on LinkedIn to share your tips and articles, and I will add them here.

  1. The 7 best time management techniques for work
  2. Using OneNote for task management
  3. How to use Kanban

I recommend reading the above to get even better at effective time management.

Connect and get help

Lastly, know you are not alone. I really like to evangelize about effective time management, and I will be happy to have a chat with you about this on LinkedIn if you’d like. So, feel free to add me as a connection. Just add a note saying that you found me through the effective time management guide on I accept connections from everyone, as long as they provide a not explaining how they found out about me.

Here is the link to connect!

Picture of Alessandro Maggio

Alessandro Maggio

Project manager, critical-thinker, passionate about networking & coding. I believe that time is the most precious resource we have, and that technology can help us not to waste it. I founded with the same principle: I share what I learn so that you get value from it faster than I did.
Picture of Alessandro Maggio

Alessandro Maggio

Project manager, critical-thinker, passionate about networking & coding. I believe that time is the most precious resource we have, and that technology can help us not to waste it. I founded with the same principle: I share what I learn so that you get value from it faster than I did.

Alessandro Maggio


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