Principles of Time Management: Get the Fundamentals First Before Anything Else

Written by Domantas Vanagas

November 4, 2021

Effective time management is a skill that can be learned and practiced. By following the principles of time management in this article, you can increase your productivity by up to 25%. Improve your time management skills today!

Principles of Time Management:


1. You Don’t Always Have to Say Yes

You didn’t get to where you are today by saying no to many things. On the contrary, for every opportunity that came your way, you jumped on it and made it matter.

no written on piece of paper

However, there comes a time when you need to say “no” to something. Otherwise, you’re going to end up getting overwhelmed and struggling. 

Let me share an example to give you an idea. There was an author and a composer, that tried to keep busy with many projects.

Recently, he had the chance to publish a book on my favorite jazz musician, Charles Mingus, and a science-fiction novel series my publisher loved. Working on these two alongside his music (which is just a hobby) proved stimulating and challenging.

Then, however, he decided also to take on a job writing an essay about financing that tipped his load. he hadn’t wanted to do it but thought it would be good money. 

Unfortunately, he’d taken on too much at once. he couldn’t give anything the attention it needed, and I missed publishing deadlines for all three jobs. Eventually, he got through this time, but he should have remembered this principle of time management and said “no” to that financing essay. 

2. Know How to Plan 

Planning is one of the essential principles of time management. You will struggle if you don’t understand the basic steps necessary for this process.

Unfortunately, most assume they know how to plan and don’t fully understand the unique challenges this process puts on them. 

First, you must make planning a routine. Wake up early and plan what you need to do that day. Focus on the big ugly task that you don’t want to do but you have to. It will bring in the results, and nothing worse will happen for the rest of your day.

Write your tasks in a planner or an app, you can use it to check off each task as you finish it. Or you can use sticky notes, which works great as well.

3. Prioritize Your Time 

The fundamental principle of time management – is prioritization. Start with crucial tasks in the morning, such as a meal, a workout, and the most important task for work. This will help you feel energized and ready for the day.

Prioritizing your time is based on similar rules and concepts. For example, taking a break to chat with a co-worker strengthens your relationship and builds morale. However, it may also cut back on your productivity. Focus on tackling your duties for the day before moving on to relaxation. 

While prioritizing work and being ambitious is great, don’t forget to spend time with your family

4. Understand the 80/20 Rule 

In 1895, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto published a paper describing the 80/20 rule called Pareto principle. He discussed how 20% of the country’s population owned 80% of the wealth. Since then, this rule has been expanded and is often used to inspire many time management principles.

80/20 means that 20% of your work produces 80% of your results. Understanding this can make time management easier, as you will never feel stuck, and will prioritize results.

For example, I take about an hour to produce at least 1,000 words when I write in my books. I will probably do 10-15 minutes of good hard writing during that hour. The other time I’m thinking, planning, and debating what I wrote.

5. Don’t Overstimulate Yourself 

 The modern world can be overstimulating and impact productivity, especially for teenagers. An example of this is:

woman talking on her phone, scrolling a phone and working on a computer at the same time

Let’s say you work from home. You wake up, take care of your daily tasks, and get to work. However, you like listening to music or watching television while you work. Maybe you keep Facebook Messenger open to keep up with your family and friends throughout the day. 

Or maybe you’re like me and always take on too many hobbies. At one point, I had something to do every day after work: volleyball, gym, reading, cooking, Wednesday drinks with friends, board games night, video game night, live comedy night, and hikes with my friends. 

I got overstimulated and was exhausted at the end of every day. I had to cut back and balance my everyday life to keep me engaged and entertained but not overwhelmed.

6. Streamline What You Do

You may have an effective work process, but you may still be doing things inefficiently. For example, I used to take unnecessary steps in my tasks.

Cutting back on this issue gives you more time in your day. You must:

  • Find out where you are inefficient 
  • Cut back on unnecessary steps 
  • Continually gauge your work efficiency 
  • Minimize unnecessary extra steps 

I always start by examining the key areas I want to focus on for my current work. For example, when editing a chapter in a book, I focus first on the obvious grammar mistakes, move on to wording, and then to paragraph flow. This streamlining process helps me focus on each of my tasks more easily.

7. Consider Delegation 

You don’t have to do everything yourself to finish your day! Too many tasks overwhelm even the best worker and cause confusion and agitation.

Instead, consider delegating small tasks to others, such as:

  • Cleaning your home 
  • Buying your food 
  • Editing your work 
  • Researching your work 

Trust other people to handle these simple tasks, and you’ll plan your day more effectively. Usually, moms have to delegate. Otherwise, it will get overwhelming for them quite fast. And you can cut back on endlessly repetitive and time-consuming tasks you don’t need to do yourself.

8. Relax and Take It Easy

Last but not least principle of time management, you need to know when to relax and take life a little easy. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take life seriously or get everything done that you need to every day. But instead, you should set aside at least one hour every day (preferably before bed) where you relax and do nothing.

For example, I turn off my computer, put my phone on mute, and watch one hour of television before bed. Usually, I don’t turn on the dang thing, but it helps calm my mind after a busy day. Or I keep the TV off, put on some Miles Davis, and read until I feel my eyes drooping. 

Also, take small moments of relaxation throughout the day to keep yourself engaged.

For example, take a 15-minute walk at the office, practice yoga or meditation, or listen to binaural beats. All these steps should help make your life a little bit easier to handle at work. Of all the time management principles, this is the one I love the most!


If I can get my life together and improve my time management, you can do it too! I’ve always had a bit of ADD and struggled to focus. But using these steps, I’ve gotten my life together and have pushed to a higher level of success. So don’t beat yourself up if you first struggle to do these steps. It has nothing to do with willpower but simply retraining your brain to plan your day better. Anyone can do it!

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