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  • Writer's pictureKate Armstrong

3 Time Management Strategies That Work for Almost Everyone

I know you might be thinking, "Wait a minute. Why would she just give away time management advice when she's hoping I'm going to pay her for it?" That's the trick with time management strategies, though. They're rarely rocket science, and they're rarely going to blow your doors off with their originality and innovation. (And you wouldn't really be paying me for time management strategies so much as assistance with setting goals, evaluating stumbling blocks, and creating action steps to meet the former and address the latter.) Usually, time management strategies are simple and straightforward, but the same strategies won't work for everyone. Building a time management toolkit for yourself requires a lot of trial and error.

That said, these are three of my favorite time management strategies because they work for almost everyone. They work for me, I've seen them work for a lot of other people over the years, and I hope they'll get you started too.

So, without further ado:

1. Schedule timed blocks of work followed by timed breaks from work. In the ADHD coaching world from whence I came, these blocks of time are known as "pomodoros," a term coined by Italian entrepreneur, Francesco Cirillo. Pomodoros are helpful if you find that you get distracted from writing by other tasks and thoughts, or if you feel so overwhelmed when you tell yourself "I need to write today" that you procrastinate and never get started. A traditional pomodoro is 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break, but these numbers can be adjusted. By setting aside a relatively short block of work time, you make it easier to say "I'll handle that during my break" when errant thoughts or distractions arise. Furthermore, being able to tell yourself "I only have to work for 25 minutes before I take a break," makes it easier to get started. For more about the Pomodoro Technique, check out schedule a coaching call with me! (Bonus tip: Your break should never involve a screen. The best way to whack out your dopamine system and ensure that getting back to work feels extremely boring is to scroll social media, check your email, or play a quick game on your phone during your break. If you told yourself during your timed block of work, "Stop thinking about that email until the break," then go ahead and answer it. Generally, however, standing up to stretch, getting some fresh air, getting a glass of water, or having a quick conversation are better options.)

2. Have a plan! If it you want to make your writing time as efficient as possible, you need to be ready to get started as soon as you sit down to work. The first step is to break a big task down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Once you have that master list, you can choose which small job you intend to complete during each 25-minute pomodoro. You should know at the end of one writing session which task you intend to take care of next so that you don't start each new writing session asking, "What should I work on today?" Spinning your wheels trying to prioritize tasks and decide what to get started on each and every time you sit down to write not only wastes time; it also opens the door for you to become overwhelmed or distracted before you've accomplished anything. Lower the hurdle for getting started by knowing the plan before you begin.

3. Be concrete and specific about your plan. The more concretely you define what you need to accomplish and when you intend to accomplish it, the more likely you are to follow through with your plan. Scheduling yourself to "draft the dance-off scene" or "revise footnotes on pages 15 through 22" will be more successful than scheduling yourself to "work on draft." Similarly, designating "Tuesday from 9:00 am to 10:30 am to complete three pomodoros" will help you more than designating "sometime on Tuesday" for your writing time.

These strategies may seem simple, but they can make a big difference if your time or motivation (or both!) are limited.

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