time management plan and a laptop

How to create a time management plan in 7 steps

Around many offices and work spaces, a lot of teams would benefit from learning about time management.

When it comes to a time management plan, the “secret” is just planning. This is actually an important activity for our brain, avoiding the risk of it becoming overloaded.

For individuals, a time management plan is as important on a professional level as it is on a personal one.

We all have the same amount of time in our hands to complete our tasks. The difference is in how we manage it. 

This guide includes

What is a time management plan?

A time management plan reflects a clear structure to be followed each day. This structure includes how much time you have for each task you need to complete or perform.

The main advantage of this type of plan is the opportunity to customize it to your needs. This kind of plan is also very useful for teams. That’s why creating a plan is a critical step in how to lead a team.

Your time management skills can and must be developed by adapting them to your work pace, demands, deadlines, and a number of tasks to your own schedule. Workplace and career goals can be met in a more fulfilling way.

How to create a time management plan in 7 steps

Take note of a few steps and strategies you’ll implement to create a time management plan. 

defining goals on a notebook

1. Determine your goals

Do you have your goals clear in your mind? What are you looking to achieve in a particular task or on a specific project?

It’s important to prioritize your tasks before diving into work. This categorization will help you focus on what actually needs to be done first. 

Make a list of what you need to do each day, or each week, starting with the most important ones. With your priorities well defined, it’s time to put an action plan in motion.

It’s critical to set realistic goals otherwise you may end up failing and feeling unproductive and unmotivated.

2. Assess your available schedule 

What’s your current situation in terms of time? What’s your schedule like?

Answering these questions by assessing what time you’ve got available versus the amount of time you need is fundamental.

By doing this exercise, you’ll also determine if you need to make changes to your routine or adjust your current schedule, to manage the time more effectively.

It’s also mandatory to ask yourself this question: when are you most productive? Are you a morning person or a night person? Each and every one of us has a different time of day at which we feel more productive.

This is called a person’s chronotype and depends on many factors.

The secret is making the most of your chronotype and scheduling your tasks around it, if possible.

You can be AM-shifted (most productive at the beginning of the day), PM-shifted (works better in the late afternoon or evening), or Bi-phasic (most productive in the late morning/early afternoon and then again later in the evening).

3. Develop your time management plan

Your time management plan needs to be detailed and includes the details of your tasks, with deadlines, contacts from people who may assist you, briefings, references, etc.

This plan will basically include smaller plans, detailed for each task. Below you will find a suggested template for a plan. 

You can use tools to manage remote employees will help you with this. How? By creating shared dashboards, documents, and agendas, and making it easier to communicate within the team

Timeular - time tracking app with a dice tracker for desktop

4. Determine what tools you may need

Using time tracking software is a big help in making sure that the plan is followed and the goals accomplished.

A time tracking tool is also useful in understanding how you are using your time and what are the areas demand most attention and focus.

It’s a great idea to assess what you’re doing before setting up a plan to identify the most problematic areas or habits.

There are several techniques we’ll explore further down this article, such as the Pomodoro technique or time blocking.

5. Implement the plan

It’s now time to put the plan in motion. Keep up with that initial burst of motivation and stay focused on the final goals. 

To keep you motivated, did you know that preparing your life in advance ( having a time management plan) is one of the best time saving tips?

6. Adjust as needed

As time goes by and the workload shifts and changes, you’ll be able to customize your plan/schedule even further. Adjust as many times as needed.

Don’t be afraid to make changes, switch tasks around, and implement new techniques if it’ll help you reach your goals more effectively.

7. Plan for unexpected situations

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to control all aspects of time management. As we work on arranging time for tasks, setting deadlines, and even planning personal errands, unexpected things will happen.

This can include events like meetings, questions from coworkers, or urgent assignments that take longer to complete than originally planned.

Other times, real-life problems can get in the way. Try to plan for this by budgeting some extra time. If you don’t need it, it’s extra time for relaxing.

Time management plan template

Time Management Plan
TaskMTWTF
Read email09:0009:0009:0009:0009:00
Meeting09:3009:3009:30
Report CEO15:0015:00
Upload data17:0017:0017:0017:00

To-do list prioritization

Here you can find a basic template that will allow you to list and organize your tasks according to their priorities.

DATE:
High Priority
Task A Task B
Task C Task D
Task E Task F
Medium Priority
Task G Task H
Task I Task J
Task K Task L
Low Priority
Task M Task N
Task O Task P
Task Q Task R

But if you’re looking for something more elaborated and helpful, the Eisenhower’s Matrix also known as the 4 quadrants of time management.

Tips and techniques to include in your time management plan

There are many techniques that can help you manage the time spent on work tasks.

There’s nothing better than trying them until you find the one that works best for you. Here are a few examples of the best time management techniques:

Pareto analysis - 80/20 rule

The 80/20 rule

This technique, also known as the Pareto Analysis (named after its Italian creator), consists in prioritizing the tasks that are most effective at solving problems.

Write down all the problems you are facing at the moment, in your department, company, agency, or even personal life, and identify the root cause of each problem.

Assign a score to each problem – the higher the score, the bigger the issue. Group them together according to their scores. The group with the highest score should be the one you work on first.

Time blocking

If you don’t know what time blocking is, we can say that it consists of locking specific time slots for each task.

To make the most of the hours you have during the day, schedule blocks of time for activities like breakfast, lunch, or working out. This way, you’ll avoid procrastination.

This technique has a lot of supporters, you probably know one of them – the CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk that uses 5-minute blocks to organize his day. 

Pomodoro

Francesco Cirillo created this time management method in Italy in the 1980s.

The technique suggests using a timer set for 25 minutes of concentration followed by 5 minutes of relaxation. You can use this as a guide or adjust the 25 to 20 minutes if that’s your optimal working time. Keep repeating.

Eat the Frog Technique

Named after a Mark Twain quote, “eat a live frog the first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day”, this technique translates to starting the day by doing the “worst” of your tasks.

The “worst” will be done sooner rather than later, and the rest of the day will seem easier to tackle.

Parkinson’s law

This method is especially directed at people who work well under pressure. Cyril Northcote Parkinson coined the phrase, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.

This means that the time we give ourselves to complete a task is the amount of time it’ll take for it to be completed. 

Applying this technique means working more efficiently in shorter bursts of time. For example, setting a limit amount of minutes to check e-mails (like half an hour) and that’s it.

Try to work without a computer charger, and challenge yourself to finish the task before the computer or other device dies.

In conclusion

Now, you know how to create a time management plan and how it’s important to your life. The benefits of good time management are impossible to ignore.

Organizing and scheduling tasks, and even personal errands, prepares you to face any challenge or project that may exist, while still meeting deadlines.

When you learn how to control your time on a daily basis, you improve your ability to get things done and stay on top of things.

Efficiency in managing time will improve the quality of your work, and help you feel fulfilled and accomplished. But in order to keep your plan going as scheduled, you also need to stay motivated.

This is a very personal issue, but make sure to take time to enjoy life outside work obligations.

Resilience and flexibility are extremely important. Remember that your calendar serves as a guide, but nothing is set in stone.

There will be times when your body, or even your mind, will impose its limits. And you must accept them.

If you have got twice the normal workload in a day, outsourcing and delegation are your best opportunities to get things done on time and in a professional manner. 

Make sure to use the tools and techniques to your advantage. 

You might be interested in: