How to Create a Time Management Plan in 9 Steps

Author: Karolina Matyska

In today’s fast-paced world, mastering time management is essential for your success in any task you might have, be it because it allows you to enjoy life outside of work better, or helps you have more free time.

Good time management skills help you increase productivity, prioritize tasks, and save time for professional development and personal life.

How an IT consultancy became 20% more profitable by using Timeular
Good time management plan needs a good time tracking solution

“We have become 20% more profitable because everyone is in the habit of time tracking.” – Richard Wingfield, Head Geek at Envision Design

To have good time management, the stepping stone is for you to create a time management plan first. This is why, in this article, we will provide you with 7 steps on how to create an effective time management plan.

We’ll guide you through the essential steps, from establishing precise work goals and evaluating your time availability to executing the plan and adapting as needed. Along the way, you’ll uncover effective time management techniques and powerful tools to enhance your productivity significantly.

What is a time management plan?

A time management plan is like a smart schedule that helps you get things done efficiently. It’s all about setting realistic goals, breaking them into smaller tasks, and setting aside specific times to complete them. A proper time management plan will help you and your team stay organized, reduce stress, and succeed in both your personal and work life.

What is a crucial part of a successful plan?

  • Time management tools like time tracking apps, calendars, and reminders will help you stick to your plan
  • Strong time management skills
  • Effective time management strategies

We will get into details in the next sections of this article.

Read also: Why is time management important in a business?

Free eBook: How to plan your team’s time?

Get your free copy and discover how to leverage the power of time tracking in your team.

How to create a time management plan in 9 steps

TIP: Before delving into your time management plan, it’s essential to sharpen your time management skills. Poor time management often results from a lack of familiarity with time management techniques, as well as time tracking. To equip you with the essentials, we’ve included some effective time management tips in the next section of this article.

defining goals on a notebook

1. Determine your goals

Clarity in your goals is the fundamental starting point for a proper time management strategy. Ask yourself: What do I want to achieve in a particular task, project, or even the week ahead? This clarity forms the foundation of your time management plan.

Importantly, ensure your goals are realistic. Setting achievable objectives prevents frustration and maintains motivation throughout the process while ensuring there won’t be any wasted time.

Tip: Apply this step to both your personal and professional goals.

How an IT consultancy became 20% more profitable by using Timeular
“If you’re not tracking then you could be giving your time away for free. Using Timeular allows us to be intentional about how we plan and spend our time.”

2. Prioritize tasks

Once your goals are crystal clear, priority tasks should be established. Categorizing your daily tasks helps you pinpoint what truly requires your immediate attention. To implement this, create a daily or weekly to do list, placing the most crucial and challenging tasks at the top.

TIP: It might be a good idea to use a good work prioritization tool.

3. Assess your available schedule  plan

Next, let’s consider your current time situation. Take a close look at your schedule and assess it thoroughly. How much time do you have available, and how does it align with the time required for your tasks? This evaluation is crucial.

As you delve into this exercise, you’ll learn whether adjustments to your routine or schedule are necessary for more effective time management.

4. Reflect on your productivity periods

Additionally, consider your peak productivity times. Are you at your best in the morning, evening, or other times? This individual inclination, known as your chronotype, depends on various factors. The key here is to harness your chronotype’s strengths by scheduling tasks accordingly. If you are a night person, work at night! You’d be better off setting your entire weekly schedule based on your strengths, rather than weaknesses.

You might find yourself most productive in the morning (AM-shifted), the late afternoon or evening (PM-shifted), or even in two distinct phases (Bi-phasic) – it varies from person to person.

5. List your tasks

Create a to-do list of all the tasks you need to complete. Sort them starting with the most urgent tasks and drill down until you get to the least important task on your list. Add information about deadlines and estimated time limits.

6. Choose the right tools

Using a time-tracking software is a big help in ensuring the plan is followed and the goals are accomplished, while you monitor every task inside the software.

A time tracking tool is also useful in understanding the amount of time spent on a specific task and what are the areas that demand the 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.

We’ll explore several techniques further down this article, such as the Pomodoro technique or time blocking, which can be followed with a time tracking tool.

Timeular – time management tool

Read our master guide if you want to know what the Pomodoro technique is.

7. 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, without getting blocked by the critical tasks that may require more time and energy.

To keep you motivated, did you know that preparing your elaborated task list in advance is one of the best time saving tips?

8. 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 based on a new strategy or important tasks that appear.

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

If you find out there are other manageable tasks you could do at some point, as you stumbled upon blockers in finalizing your initial ones, changing your focus can only speed up the achievement of your objectives.

9. 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 events 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 and simply enjoying daily life at a slower pace.

Time management plan template

This is a schematic example of how simply, yet effectively manage your time in a week – or even your recurring tasks.

Time Management Plan
Read email09:0009:0009:0009:0009:00
Report CEO15:0015:00
Upload data17:0017:0017:0017:00

To-do list prioritization

This is a template that will allow you to organize your list based on the order of priority tasks.

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 elaborate 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

Free eBook: How to plan your team’s time?

Get your free copy and discover how to leverage the power of time tracking in your team.

Below, we enlisted some of the most popular time management techniques that help to manage time effectively:

The 80/20 rule

This time management 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.

Pareto analysis - 80/20 rule

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.

As you’ll end up with a task list already prioritized, you’ll be better equipped to manage your time effectively and complete tasks, in your daily or weekly schedule.

Time blocking

Time blocking, also known as time batching, involves scheduling dedicated time slots for specific tasks, allowing you to protect your focus, avoid task overload, and make consistent progress on projects. It’s an effective time management strategy that helps to avoid procrastination.

By applying this methodology, you’d develop your time management skills, as you’re exercising your awareness to complete tasks within a time limit.

This technique has a lot of supporters, i.e. the CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk who uses 5-minute blocks to organize his day.

The Pomodoro technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique that involves working in focused 25-minute intervals, known as ‘Pomodoros,’ followed by a 5-minute break. This method enhances concentration, minimizes procrastination, and optimizes productivity by breaking tasks into manageable time intervals with regular short breaks.

Regardless of how long a task takes in general, you’d need to break it into 25 minutes and stay focused on it. This will free time for a break and give a sense of finalizing a specific task easier, regardless of the total time spent on it.

Remember, time tracking is the core of this technique! You could even schedule meetings in a Pomodoro fashion for better efficiency.

Pro tip: Use our free Pomodoro timer or one of the Pomodoro apps to set Pomodoro slots with one click!

Time management Matrix

The time management matrix, aka Eisenhower Matrix, is a prioritization strategy that categorizes tasks into four quadrants based on their urgency and importance. It helps individuals make decisions, prioritize tasks, and achieve their goals effectively by sorting tasks into categories such as:

  • urgent and important,
  • not important but urgent,
  • urgent but not important,
  • and neither urgent nor important.

Most of the time we lose focus as, either our time management skills are not as robust as we’d need, or because we’re too stressed to see clearly what managing time effectively really means. That is why, the Eisenhower Matrix will help declutter the minds and demonstrate in black and white, what the next task should be.

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”, the Eat the Frog method 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. You’ll have a higher feeling of achievement, knowing that you’re well ahead of those complex tasks no longer dragged towards of the day, and more relaxed during your back-to-back meetings in the second part of the day.

Parkinson’s law

This method is especially directed at people who work well under pressure. Cyril Northcote Parkinson coined the phrase, “work expands 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, that you have identified these time management techniques, you should be able to create an effective time management plan, whether it is for professional or personal life goals.

The benefits of good time management are virtually impossible to ignore, whether you’re planning a task, or even managing personal errands. You’d be more prepared to face any challenge that may come up, and stay on top of things, while still meeting deadlines.

Using a time-tracking software can aid in making sure you’re accomplishing your goals, and sticking to your plan, while you monitor every task inside the software. A time tracking tool is also useful in understanding the amount of time dedicated to a specific task and what are the areas that demand the most attention and focus.

All in all, regardless of the technique or tool you choose, it will lead to efficiency and productivity increase and it will fuel you to stay motivated long-term while enjoying work and personal time.