Improve Productivity With These Powerful Time Management Tips

Most people have it wrong when they think of time management. Time isn’t something you can control. It keeps passing whether you like it or not. You can’t make it go faster or slower, pause or rewind. When talking of time management to be more productive, it’s more self-management you should be focusing on.

Schedule Your Priorities Instead Of Prioritizing Your Schedule

Think of the things you are really eager or motivated to do. No matter how busy life gets, you will always find time for those things. There’s always enough time to watch TV if this is what you really love doing after a hard day at work. There’s always an opportunity to get together with your loved one if you’re madly and deeply in love.

Use the same approach when planning out your day. Instead of taking your already packed day and shuffling things around according to their importance, clear your schedule and start again. Instead of asking “How am I going to fit it all into my day?”, start asking yourself “What should I fit into my day?”.

Align Your Actions With Your Long-Term Goals

The things you fit into your day should be mainly the things that make the needle of your compass move in the right direction. Progress toward your long-term goal can be defined as a numeric score, that’s a sum of decisions you make. Think of every task you choose to take or pass as a +1 or -1. Include the activities that increase your long-term goal’s progress score by one point into your day.

Determine Your Non-Negotiables

Think of the things that are important, non-negotiable, and need to be done. You may want to take a moment to do an honest review of what those non-negotiables should be. You may find a lot of things in the back of your mind that feels urgent and important. But when thinking of the real effect of getting them done, it is somewhat marginal.

These aren’t always directly related to your long-term goals. However, leaving them undone would still come with unwanted consequences. Schedule those to your daily plan first and evaluate the remaining time.

The No-Impact And Negotiable Tasks

After scheduling the high-impact tasks and your non-negotiables, you are left with activities that are neither of them. Before you rush to shove them aside for good, keep in mind that living a life where everything is about making progress and being productive can eventually lead to burnout. In that key, the no-impact and negotiable tasks that can be classified as procrastination may actually act as non-negotiables. Because the time to unwind and rest your body and mind is just as important as getting things done.

Find Your Prime Time For Focusing

Most time management and productivity systems tell you to tackle the hardest tasks at the beginning of your day. For many people, this may indeed work, if they classify as the chronotype that has the most energy and focus in the first half of the day. A chronotype is a classification system used to help understand sleep and productivity schedules – when are you most active and alert throughout the day.

This is preconditioned by the PER3 gene, which sets the circadian rhythm of the body and its biological clock. The modern-day 9-5 office rhythm is built around The Bear chronotype which dominates the population. Approximately 55% of people are considered to be The Bear chronotype. However, there are 3 more chronotypes – The Lion, The Wolf, and The Dolphin. You can take the quiz to find out your chronotype.

Each of those chronotypes has its prime focusing time and for 45% of the population, it probably goes against what is expected from them when working a regular 9-5 job.

The Bear Chronotype

People with The Bear Chronotype follow the solar cycle in their sleep schedule. They sleep when it’s dark and wake up as the sun rises. They have the best focus for deep work and harder tasks at the beginning of the day. The ideal morning for The Bear should include planning their day as they have their morning coffee from 9-10 AM and moving on to working on harder tasks and participating in important meetings from 10 AM-2 PM.

The Bear chronotype will experience a dip in energy after lunch, from 2-4 PM so this time should be reserved for easier tasks and going through emails. The energy levels of The Bear recover after 6 PM, which makes it a perfect time for exercising and brainstorming before unwinding for bedtime.

The Wolf Chronotype

Around 15% of the population is The Wolf Chronotype. Like in nature, these people tend to be active during the evening and sluggish during the day. This makes it hard for them to max out their productivity and performance when shoved into the classic 9-5 work day. Many Wolf Chronotype people find it efficient to get ahead of their work at home after office hours. The prime focus time for The Wolf is from 5 PM – 12 AM.

Mornings tend to be especially hard so for The Wolf, it’s important to start the day with the easiest tasks from 10 AM -12 PM. As the day progresses, their capability to focus and their energy levels get a little boost. 12-2 PM is a good time to try and get some deep work and creative tasks done.

Like The Bear, The Wolf also experiences a slump of energy from 2-5 PM when it’s best to continue with easier tasks. After that The Wolf reaches their daily peak performance which lasts until bedtime. Therefore it’s best to schedule important meetings, presentations, and high-demanding creative work to 4-6 PM.

The Lion Chronotype

Around 15% of the population is The Lion Chronotype. The Lion has no trouble waking up early and their productivity keeps rising throughout the morning. As the afternoon energy dip hits The Lion harder than other chronotypes, Lions often start their day earlier to get more things done. Their prime time for focusing is from 8 AM – 12 PM.

The Lion should spend the rest of the day on tasks that require less focus but they may have some creative energy for brainstorming from 12-4 PM. Lions struggle the most with keeping up with their late-evening social activities. They tend to feel utterly drained from the day by the time other chronotypes are ready to go out and party

The Dolphin Chronotype

The Dolphin is considered the insomniac of the chronotypes. Their sleep schedules tend to be sporadic, resulting in the need for power naps during the day. During regular office hours, The Dolphin can easily maintain a steady level of energy throughout the day as long as they can have regular breaks.

They too have a small dip in energy levels after lunch but nothing like other chronotypes who experience more of a crash than a dip. Because of this, The Dolphins can challenge themselves both before noon and in the afternoon. Morning tends to suit more for creative tasks though and afternoon more for intellectually challenging work.

Task Bundling To Reduce Time For Refocusing

Switching between tasks generates focus residue and increases the time it will take to complete a task. Scientists have discovered that the time to refocus when switching between tasks or being interrupted can be 5-25 minutes. Bundling together tasks of similar nature can make switching between tasks more seamless and smooth and reduce the time as the focus and type of energy for similar tasks is also similar

Divide your day or even week into three types:

  • Deep work
  • Meetings
  • Simple tasks

Deep Work

This is the core task that requires a significant amount of time and focus to make considerable progress. Make it a goal to load up the first half of your week with days or timeslots of a minimum of 2h for deep work. Schedule it to a time of day when you are naturally more efficient and better focused – The Prime Focusing Time for your chronotype.

Switch off all notifications for this period. Create a system to prevent being interrupted in the office during the Dee

Keep in mind though that according to different researches, the maximum time for a brain to focus without a break is between 45 minutes to 1.5 hours. After that, the brain requires a 20-30 minute break.


Even though they come in different shapes and forms, consider all social interactions as meetings. This includes classic physical meetings, quick zoom calls, responding to emails, chats, quick mentoring, answering colleagues’ questions, etc.

4 hours of meetings with one-hour breaks between each doesn’t mean that you will have 4 hours to focus on big tasks. The hour-long gaps can at best be used for completing simple low effort tasks. Shifting those 4 hours of meetings to one half of the day, or having a dedicated weekday for meetings, frees up hours for deep work that requires longer slots of time to maintain a good focus and make progress.

Simple Tasks

These are the tasks that may be high in quantity but don’t require that much focus, brain effort, or time to complete them.

Simple tasks can act as fillers on scattered days. Bundling them can ensure the simple tasks don’t become the day scatterers themselves. Work on simple tasks when you are naturally less energized and lack strong focus. It may help get the ball rolling in the morning or guarantee an easy finish for the day.

Use The Momentum To Get A New Day Going

Getting started is always the hardest, but once you get the ball rolling, even the hardest task doesn’t seem so overwhelming. You have probably heard about the art of showing up or the 1-minute rule. The goal for both is to get things moving in the right direction. They both succeed in that, as long as you have enough self-discipline and/or motivation to practice them. A little trick to make that part easier is to finish the day by leaving a small (5-10%) but crucial part of the last task undone.

That small part will leave you waiting for the next time you can continue the task so that you can complete it and tick it off your list. Now, this would happen also if you left a bigger part of the task for the next time. But there is an additional benefit of leaving only a small amount of work for the next time. When you start working again, completing the task doesn’t seem like an overwhelming and time-consuming thing to do. Instead, you complete the remaining 5-10% quickly and effortlessly.

And as a bonus, you will treat your brain with a little boost of dopamine. Having an effortless start in combination with feeling good from completing a task, becomes the momentum for the rest of the day. You are already in the groove and motivated to tackle new tasks. This approach allows you to hack your own brain’s neurochemicals to avoid falling into the procrastination trap.