proactive time management

The best 5 proactive time management tips

“Proactive time management? That’s crazy talk Lori, I can barely keep up let alone be proactive about things!” But wait, let me help with the 5 helpful tips below!

proactive time management
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There’s no denying the fact that we live in a ‘pressure cooker’ world with a never-ending barrage of commitments, deadlines, catastrophes and other events that demand our attention and time.

Now more than ever before, people are feeling the stress of not having enough time to do anything. They always feel like they’re behind the 8-ball and playing catch-up.

The truth of the matter is that no one can manage time. It will pass you by anyway. What you need to do is manage is your life and where your attention goes… and this is how you do it…

1. Shut out the noise

In order to find some semblance of peace and order, you’ll need to eliminate the pointless distractions in your life. That may mean getting off social media for a few months. It may mean turning off the news on TV (which never fails to rile you up). By eliminating these energy-draining ‘parasites’, you’ll have more time for what matters.

2. Prioritize

Always do what matters when it matters. For example, focusing on the tasks which have the highest return in your life. If you’re a writer, that will mean focusing on your writing first thing in the day.

Too often, we keep what’s crucial for later – because the work is ‘unappetizing’ and the procrastination helps to delay the unpleasantness of the task. However, this just delays the inevitable and makes the process worse than it has to be.

Instead, by getting the hardest tasks out of the way FIRST, you’ll not only feel more accomplished, but will have more time to breeze through the easier tasks because now you feel ‘lighter’ from having done what you were avoiding.

3. Follow a daily routine

While many people will frown at the idea of routine and structure in their life because ‘being controlled’ is anathema to them – the truth is that with structure comes freedom.

After all, you’ll be deciding on your own daily routine. This is not a military regimen where you need to follow orders from a barking sergeant. No no… this is your routine.

You can tailor it to suit your life. The key point to note is to do the needful in an efficient manner so that your commitments and work are met in an orderly manner. Some of the most important aspects of proactive time management.

Routine will eliminate a lot of decision fatigue in your life. You’ll know exactly what to do every single day and can coast through it in ‘flow state’ while you accomplish more with less effort. Doesn’t that sound fantastic?

Of course, it does!

4. Be more organized

This simple tip will save you hours of frustration and stress in the long run, not to mention the time savings too. Declutter your home so that it’s neater and requires less cleaning. Check out these five ways that decluttering can actually maximize your personal resources.

The same applies to your desk/workspace. The more orderly and neat things are, the less time you’ll need to spend searching for the items you need – and you won’t end up wasting time and energy.

5. Set deadlines

Remember the drill sergeant from earlier? Well, deadlines are like invisible bosses that keep prodding you to stay focused and complete the tasks on time. Always have deadlines for any job you do, and give yourself slightly less time than you think you’ll need.

Parkinson’s law states that the amount of work expands to fill the time available for its completion. So, the less time you give yourself, the faster you’ll get the work done. Of course, be reasonable with your deadlines.

They should motivate you to work faster, but not be so unreasonable that they annihilate you. Just remember the differences between busy and productive.

Apply these 5 time management tips in your life and you’ll be amazed at how much more productive you become, and you’ll not only free up your time, but your stress levels will drop considerably. Start implementing them in your life today!


Frequently Asked Questions

What is proactive time management?

Being proactive with your time management means being “in front” of it” instead of constantly feeling reactive to situations. You intentionally make plans and follow through with those plans. And yes, sometimes things crop up or the unexpected happens. But when you have a plan in place, you can take care of the “surprises” and then easily get back to your plan.

How can you be proactive in managing your time?

In addition to the five specific tips above, the general rule is to make some sort of plan and stick with it. Even if you don’t block specific times for specific tasks (i.e., I will vacuum at 10:00 AM), knowing that you will empty the dishwasher and vacuum all the bedrooms sometime before the kids get home from school then you have a plan with a deadline.

How does time management improve productivity?

When you manage your time effectively, you don’t spend your time wondering what to do next. When you spend precious time trying to figure out your next task, you end up losing out on your productivity.

Is productivity the same as time management?

They are not the same thing however they are close partners and usually walk hand-in-hand. And typically if you improve your skill at one, your skill at the other will follow suit!

difference between busy and productive

The difference between BUSY and PRODUCTIVE

difference between busy and productive
difference between busy and productive

The theme of the month? Productive doesn’t necessarily mean busy and busy doesn’t always mean productive.

In Wedding bells: managing your time, we looked at balancing the “have-tos” with the “want-tos”.  This is certainly not just for planning a wedding.  It applies to everyday life too.

If you haven’t checked out the ways to maximize your resources, time is probably our most limited resource.  Being productive is truly the best use of that time – getting the most done in the least amount of time necessary.

And while our lives are busy with a capital B, productive and busy are not the same thing.

If you are currently in the workforce, I’m sure you’ve had one of those days when you bounce from meeting to meeting all day long. And by the time you get to the end of the day, you feel like you’ve been busy all day long but didn’t actually get anything done. That’s the difference between busy and productive – not how much time did you spend running around from task to task but what did you accomplish with that time that you spent.

What is the difference between busy and productive?

  • Productivity is ultimately about efficiency. It’s about being smart with your time, with as little wasted time or energy as possible. We only have so many hours in a day (even if you skip eating and sleeping, it’s still twenty-four at the very most).
  • Being productive means getting your “stuff” done in the least amount of time possible. Who wants to waste their precious resources?  Time, energy, money are all precious.
  • Multi-tasking isn’t always the most productive use of your time. Ultimately multi-tasking ends up being unproductive because your attention and focus are spread too thin.
  • We all know those people – they “humble brag” about how busy they are running from one social engagement to the next and having such a full calendar. But does being that busy really mean they are being productive?  Probably not.  It just means they are busy. And life is hard enough without adding “busy” to the mix when you don’t have to.
  • If you are too busy, you can’t truly be productive. You spend so much of your time getting from one activity to another and hardly any of that time truly enjoying any one particular activity.
  • Trying to do too much at the same time, and ultimately nothing gets accomplished. Studies have shown that multi-tasking doesn’t actually work — that when our attention is too divided, we end up losing our ability to focus.  And eventually we become unable to focus our attention on just one task.

Ultimately, we do all lead busy lives and have a lot to accomplish on any given day.  But don’t forget to make sure you are being more productive and less busy. The difference between being busy and being productive is getting it done.


Frequently Asked Questions

What does the saying mean – don’t be busy, be productive?

I’ve always taken this saying to mean don’t just spend your time running around, make sure you spend your time accomplishing something.

What does it mean to be productive?

Being productive means getting IT done. Whatever that IT is for your life, getting it done is the key. You can be as busy as all get-out but a lot of the time that isn’t productive. What have you accomplished by being that busy? Is it just bragging rights that you are “so busy”?

What is the difference between busy people and productive people?

I see busy people as those “humble brag” type people, that talk about how busy they are and how much they have going on and how they have to run from one event to another without any room to breathe. Who wants to live like that??? On the other hand, productive people accomplish something with time and energy that they expend.

How do I turn a busy life into a productive life?

If you’ve come to the realization that you are more busy than productive, it’s time to stop and take a moment to figure out why. Are you truly enjoying all of the activities that you are doing? Maybe grocery shopping at three different stores is not the best way to spend your Saturday morning. Could you find everything you need at one store and save your time and gas money for other things? Or try a grocery pickup service if you still need multiple stores so that all you have to do is drive up and they bring the bags out to you.

It’s the little time-savers that will accumulate over time. To re-visit why you feel so busy and whether it is all truly necessary.

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