Simple and Effective Time Management Tips

Clients often tell me that they get stressed when they don’t have enough time to do everything they want to do, or feel they should do. This can lead to them feeling discouraged, anxious or just plain overwhelmed.

We all have just 24 hours in a day, and the difference between those who get everything done and those who don’t is often the way they use their time. Time management is something everyone can learn and use, so I'm about to show you some ways to do just that.

You do have time for time management

It will take time to learn and put in place a time management system. Probably less time than you think, but some.

You might be saying that this will just put your further behind, or give you more to do. In a way you’re right, but don’t stop reading as this is a temporary effect. Once the system is in place it takes very little effort to keep it going, and you will find it easier to cope well with all the tasks you have to do.


Lists are great, especially if you are the sort of person who likes the visual reminder of what you've achieved which is possible by ticking off items on your list.
If your list is overwhelming in one go, break it down into smaller lists. This is how I do it.
  • Firstly divide your tasks into two sets - essential (what you absolutely must do) and not essential (what you’d like to do).
  • Then go through the two sets and divide each of them into two more - urgent and not urgent. For this exercise urgent is anything with a deadline of ten days or less.
Just to make this clear, here are a couple of examples.
  • Your MOT is due. This is essential since without it you won't be able to take the car on the road. If it's due in the next ten days, it’s essential and urgent. If it’s not due for another month it’s essential and not urgent.
  • You want to buy a lottery ticket. You don’t usually bother but there is a huge rollover this week and you’d like a shot at it. This is not essential. Your chances of winning are small, so if you don't get around to doing it there (more than likely) won’t be huge repercussions. However, by next week the rollover will have gone, so if you're going to do it at all, it has to be this week. So it’s not essential but it is urgent.
  • You’ve always wanted to trace your family tree. You have a few ideas about where to start but that's as far as you've got. As it stands, this would probably be not essential and not urgent. If you have joined an online family search site and your membership runs out soon, you might want to re-classify this to not essential but urgent so as to get the benefits of your membership fee.
This will leave you with all your tasks allocated into one of the four groups on the chart above. You can put them on pieces of paper or a spreadsheet, into boxes or use post-it notes, whichever you find easiest.

Once all your tasks are divided up in this way, you work through them in the order given on the chart.

Keep it up to date

Of course, sooner or later things in the 'not essential/urgent' box will pass their deadline and things in the 'essential/not urgent' box will become urgent if you don’t; get around to them. To prevent them from getting missed, review your tasks once a week and re-classify anything that needs it. By classing urgent as anything due within ten days, and reviewing weekly, nothing should fall between the gaps.

Add new tasks straight into the system as they arise.

This takes just a few minutes each week and should keep you on track.

Schedule downtime

You will function better if you take regular short breaks and spend some time each week doing something for you. It's essential and urgent!


This is a useful concept at work and at home. You have limited resources of time and effort and need to use them wisely. Paying someone to clean your home or walk the dog, even if it’s just occasionally, might be worth it. Compare the savings in your time and energy with the financial cost and make the best decision for you.

Use your time wisely

Tasks tend to expand to fill the time you give them. Set specific time slots to complete tasks and stick to them. Be realistic about how long it will take to do a good job, but don’t procrastinate or allow yourself to endlessly 'tweak' tasks or get distracted.

Break large or complex tasks into smaller ones, and take it one step at a time.

Dealing with interruptions

Set aside time each day to switch off distractions like your phone, emails or social media. You can do it. You know you can.


Author: is a professional stress management coach, specialising in working with individuals and smaller employers to minimise stress and maximise feeling in control. Debbie is has also written about helping people with IBS in the Hypnotherapy Handbook which is available from
Find out more about Debbie's services on  or phone 01977 678593