Just as becoming healthy requires hard effort, choosing the correct app will not suddenly teach you time management.

Time management tips abound:

  • Reduce meetings.
  • Stop checking email.
  • Wear a uniform every day.
  • Not to mention the hundreds of applications promised to organize your life and make you a to-do list-busting machine.

But the fact is that no amount of time management hacks or applications can replace basic time management abilities and strategy. Do you think buying a decent set of knives, high-end cooking equipment, and fresh ingredients would automatically make you a five-star chef? No way. However, having good equipment makes a difference when you cook, so you don’t discount hacking tips.

Why Time Management Hacks Don’t Always Work

Not everyone is a natural time manager, just as not everyone is a natural cook – anyone can learn both abilities — but it also takes practice.

Here’s how to get started.

Self-awareness management

5 p.m.

Do you recall your day?


One research found that only 17% of us can accurately estimate its time to accomplish a job. We also tend to underestimate time spent on low-return activities like email, meetings, and social networking. A time audit is a unique approach to track your day — our Calendar business tips always recommend a time audit as you strive for greater productivity.

During a typical week, keep track of your time in a journal or spreadsheet from dawn to dusk.

By the end of the week, you’ll have a better grasp of your time management.

Time is money.

Your time, like money, is limited. Sadly, says Allison Rimm of HBR, “people seldom budget their time with the same precision that they make their money.” But what if? After doing your audit and gaining a better knowledge of your time use, the next step is to budget it.

Consider dividing it into fixed and discretionary time.

Elizabeth Grace Saunders recommends prioritizing your decisions in her book, How To Invest Your Time Like Money. It’s been a best seller for the past five years.

First, write out your priorities in order of importance. Then, turn your priorities into actions by scheduling them and comparing your time commitment to your stated preferences. Next, trim activities from low-priority areas to reduce your time expectations without guilt. Finally, adjust your calendar if you still don’t have time for the essentials.

This generally implies reducing high-priority areas to make room for the less-important but still important stuff. Make your adjustments very slowly — like change one thing a week. Move too fast, and you’ll sink yourself.

Prioritize your choices.

Thinking about how your actions today will affect your future is another way to improve awareness. Let priorities guide you rather than continually calculating, leading to decision fatigue. Prioritizing involves your future decisions as well.

For example, let’s say you’re invited to join a respected organization’s board. Accepting would mean sacrificing time with your family, one of your main priorities. You’ve already made your choice without having to analyze the pros and disadvantages.

Remember that priorities vary over time, and that’s normal. Regularly review your objectives and beliefs to verify your activities are still in accordance with who you are today. These reassessments will keep you on track and prevent you from becoming trapped.

Know your beats

JotForm has 300 workers and over 10 million users. It would not have grown to its current size if it had stayed static with its time management strategies. Author Yulia Yaganova proposes assessing your energy, attention, and motivation every hour for three weeks. Once you’ve discovered your peak hours, plan your job to coincide with those times.

Yulia Yaganova says, ‘Our flex approach at JotForm has resulted in enormous increases in team productivity. Because everyone works differently. Those who want to sleep in may start work later — while those who prefer to wake early can maximize their productivity when it is still peaceful. Allowing employees to work at their own pace improves morale and helps retain top talent.”

Be nimble in management

No matter how well prepared, things may go awry. You had an unexpected doctor’s visit, your kid became ill, or your vehicle wouldn’t start. It happens. Allow yourself some flexibility rather than attempting to keep up with a limited timetable.

When you’re worried about your automobile, perform some administrative activities that take up less brain space. Your brain is a series of compartments. Only you have the key to all of them. So it might be helpful to plan ahead of time for unforeseen changes in your schedule. Live in the now, but plan and prepare for tomorrow — design your tomorrow.

Time management software may be effective, but only after mastering the basics or personal time management. We all know that the devil is in the details, and it takes some time to figure that out.

I always compare time management to losing weight. Consider all the ways, tips, and information to lose weight rapidly without altering your diet or lifestyle. But, unfortunately, these ideas seldom keep their promise — and are discouraging if you try them, and working towards a goal that will likely lose luster quickly isn’t the way to accomplish any goal.

Becoming healthy requires hard effort, and choosing the correct app will not suddenly teach you time management.

But once learned, if you keep working on it — your time management talents will increase, and they are permanent as long as you stay committed.