Good time management is important for our well-being. Tips, such as building a morning routine or practicing self-care, can help you manage your time better.

It’s totally normal for us to fall behind from time to time. But if you’re frequently procrastinating, missing deadlines, or rushing around, you might be dealing with the effects of poor time management skills.

Time management is a concept that describes our ability to efficiently and effectively organize our time so that we can be productive in our tasks and activities.

2021 research suggests that good time management plays a role in everything from how well we perform occupationally to our overall mental well-being.

2019 research has shown that habitual behaviors and routines are important, especially when it comes to our physical and mental health. So, before you even start managing your entire day, build a morning routine first.

Once you’ve tackled your morning routine, you can use that time to set up the rest of your day. For example, you can use your mornings to set clear daily goals and create your to-do lists, which can help improve your productivity.

Time management tools are a great way to keep track of tasks so that you can spend less time stressing about your daily responsibilities. There are hundreds of different time management tools out there, but some common ones include:

  • To-do lists: this can be as simple as a list written down on a notepad or an app that you can view throughout the day
  • Timers and stopwatches: you can set them throughout the day for deadlines or use them during dedicated work sessions
  • Planners and calendars: can help you keep track of your day-to-day, weekly, or monthly responsibilities
  • Specific techniques: you may find it helpful to use techniques like the Pomodoro Technique or the Eisenhower Matrix, which hone specific time management skills

Studies have even shown that tools like these can be especially helpful for reducing stress levels in people with conditions like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), for example. Still, it can take a little trial-and-error to figure out what works for you.

When you don’t have an effective way of prioritizing your tasks, you can easily become overwhelmed and stressed. But by categorizing your responsibilities, you can focus more of your time and energy on what’s important.

One of the ways that you can do this is with an Eisenhower Matrix, or Urgent-Important Matrix. With an Eisenhower Matrix, you categorize your tasks into four categories:

  1. Urgent and important, or “Do”: These are the tasks that have the highest priority, which means tackling them first.
  2. Not urgent and important, or “Decide”: These tasks are important, but you can schedule them for a later time or date.
  3. Urgent and not important, or “Delegate”: These are the tasks that you can delegate to someone else instead of doing yourself.
  4. Not urgent and not important, or “Delete”: Generally, you can delete these tasks from your list to free up space.

Of course, this is just one way to tackle your daily responsibilities – but some people prefer to check off the easy stuff first, and there’s nothing wrong with that, either.

While multitasking might seem like the best way to manage your time, this might not be the case at all. In fact, research from 2019 suggests that trying to work on more than one task at a time can actually decrease your productivity and the quality of your work.

Instead of stressing yourself out trying to multitask, consider “batching” your tasks instead. To do this, simply block out a chunk of time without distractions for one type of task – like emails, paperwork, or a project – and work until you’re finished or you’re ready to stop.

Burnout has become a huge topic of discussion in recent years, especially for healthcare professionals during the pandemic. But burnout affects more than just those in healthcare, with almost 60% of workers reporting being affected by work-related stress.

If you’ve noticed that having too much on your plate is affecting your time management, practice saying “no”.

Whether that means reducing your workload or limiting your responsibilities at home, learning to work in your own capacity can have a positive impact on your mental health.

As humans, we love to reward ourselves for hard work – a treat after a difficult test at school or a vacation after completing a big work project. And as it turns out, much of what motivates us to do what we do every day is the possibility of a reward.

If you have difficulty managing your time because of a lack of motivation, consider rewarding yourself more often. By celebrating your wins, big and small, you can increase your motivation, productivity, and overall mental health.

When we don’t make time for self-care outside of our responsibilities, we risk experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, burnout, and more.

So, here are a few ways that you can make sure to always prioritize yourself even as you improve your time management:

  • Take time to recharge: Good time management can help you do more, but constantly trying to do more is a fast track to stress and burnout. Don’t forget to make time to eat well, get enough sleep, and recharge.
  • Respect your downtime: If you’re able to sneak in productive moments during your downtime, there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s important to also respect your free time and use it as an opportunity to do the things you enjoy.
  • Make time for gratitude: Gratitude improves our mental health by allowing us to appreciate what we have. Take time to appreciate your hard work and reflect on the things that you’re grateful for each day.

If you’re someone who struggles with time management, learning how to better manage your time can improve your productivity, motivation, mental health, and more. But learning any new skill is a process – and this process takes time and patience.

As you give some of these time management tips a try, consider tackling one skill at a time as you build your new healthy habits. Over time, you’ll notice that not only are you able to manage your time better, but your mental health is better for it, too.