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15 SMART Time Management Goals to Stay on Track in 2024

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” goes the famous quote by the author Annie Dillard. And when you read this along with, “The days are long, but the years are short.”, you feel a sense of dread.

Am I making the best use of my time? Are my days structured in a way that aligns with my personal and professional goals?

This is where time management can help, and setting time management goals can provide a structured framework and a new way of looking at the time you have and the goals you want to achieve.

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What Are Time Management Goals?

Time management goals are specific targets you set to manage your time more effectively. These goals help one prioritize tasks, set clear deadlines, and eliminate wasteful activities from your day-to-day. 

For example, a business owner’s weekly tasks may include scheduling calls with prospects, delegating tasks, and measuring the progress of projects. With precise time management goals, the business owner knows exactly how many hours they need to set aside for each task and in what order they need to be accomplished. 

The most common way to set time management goals is the SMART model:

  • Specific: A well-defined goal answering who’s involved, what the result should be, what should be accomplished, etc.
  • Measurable: A quantifiable and trackable goal. “How many hours should this task take?”
  • Achievable: A realistic and attainable goal
  • Relevant: A practical goal, such as one aligned with your personal or professional goals
  • Time-Bound: A goal with a clear timeline and deadline
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What Are the Benefits of Setting Time Management Goals? 

You’ve got a clear list of things to do. So why should you care about setting time management goals as well? 

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of time management goals:

✅ A healthier work-life balance 

Proper time management means more time for your loved ones and yourself. 

You can schedule time for high-priority tasks within working hours and still get time for leisure and rest. 

✅ You procrastinate less

You don’t need to juggle between tasks when you have a prioritized list of tasks. 

You can channel your energy towards deep work without thinking about what to do next. 

✅ A productivity boost

When you’re focused on accomplishing critical tasks, without having to spend time figuring out ‘what else,’ you can build a routine. This routine is focused on helping you accomplish the most critical tasks at your most productive hour. 

✅ No more burnout 

Mismanaged work can be emotionally and physically taxing.  Add missed deadlines and an out-of-focus team, and you’ll likely experience career burnout. 

Smart time management can minimize stress caused by frustration and work pressure.

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15 Time Management Goal Examples You Can Set 

Setting time management can be overwhelming. But here are some examples of time management strategies that you can take inspiration from: 

1. Set defined numeric goals

A clear goal is one with realistic timelines and measurable results, and that’s well-communicated. 

Say you’re a design student. Your goal may be to finish a group project on time and work as a team. But penning down and tracking multiple goals with deadlines and assignees is challenging. 

If you use a tool like ClickUp, with ClickUp Goals, you stay on schedule by setting smart goals and tracking your wins as a group. 

ClickUp Sprint Goals Task Targets Example
Use ClickUp to track progress with numerical, monetary, true/false, and task targets

Here’s how: 

  • Set tangible Targets, such as numerical, yes/no, and monetary targets, for easier tracking. For example, create five website wireframes a week (a numerical target)
  • Organize multiple individual and team goals into folders
  • Access rich visuals for your goals and targets by creating mood boards for quick references  
  • Set deadlines for your team/ group and monitor their progress using weekly scorecards

2. Track your time daily

Do you know what tasks are the most time-consuming? 

If not, that’s a wake-up call to track time and uncover wasteful, unproductive activities eating up your time. This includes your personal activities, too. 

How long did you spend on social media today?

But remember, this is to estimate what activities make up the bulk of your day and not to replace them.

Time Tracking is a breeze using ClickUp.

You can record time from any device using ClickUp’s free Chrome extension. It makes task-related time tracking as simple as possible.

Manual time tracking in ClickUp
Record time as you go or enter it manually with time tracking in ClickUp

Working on a report on your iPad? Just hit “start” with ClickUp’s global timer and stop if you’re taking a break or jumping between tasks.

You can also add time estimates to your individual and team’s daily tasks to clear how long a task should take. 

3. Prioritize your tasks 

“Eat the frog” is a popular time management method because “eating your frog,” aka finishing the most critical and challenging task before picking up the rest, is the best way to get things done.

In other words, task prioritization is critical to completing high-value and important tasks on time so that you’re making progress toward larger SMART goals. Leave the easiest or low-priority tasks for last. 

Create Custom Tags in ClickUp Views
Enhance your task organization by adding custom tags and use the filter options in List and Board View to precisely identify your highest priority tasks

Create a high-priority to-do list each morning or week, followed by a lower-priority one, as a simple trick to recognize and act on urgent tasks. This will ensure essential tasks don’t get sidelined by ad hoc requests. 

4. Use time-blocking techniques  

Time-blocking is when you break your day into multiple time chunks for work-related or personal activities. 

Each block is dedicated to completing the task at hand without distractions. 

Here are some time-bound examples of time-blocking techniques:

  • The 3/3/3 rule: Dedicating three hours daily to three urgent and three not-so-urgent tasks. For example, completing three meetings and answering three emails within three hours on Tuesday
  • The Pomodoro technique: Split your workday into 25-minute focused-working chunks followed by a 5-minute break each time. Do this for at least four cycles
  • Getting Things Done (GTD): GTD is similar to the Pomodoro technique. With GTD, you attack a task head-on and set up a 25-minute timer, take a 5-minute break, and continue until completion
  • The 4-hour rule: The 4-hour rule is a monotasking time-blocking technique where you set up a designated 4-hour window to finish an activity
ClickUp Time-Blocking List Template
Keep track of current, past, and future meetings or events with ClickUp’s schedule blocking template

5. Delegate some of your tasks  

You don’t have to do it all. A little bit of delegation can help you take better control of your day. 

Start small by assigning low-value tasks to your team, or hire a virtual assistant if you’re a solopreneur. Set timeline expectations and communicate requirements so there’s no back-and-forth.

Eventually, you’ll notice two significant wins: more time on your hands for high-value, critical tasks, your team gets more confident, and you can delegate more.

Remember, it’s okay to ask for help. Delegation requires a mindset shift and is a critical part of daily time management. 

6. Eliminate all your distractions 

Avoiding distractions is easier said than done.  Moreover, working on the Internet or within a group of close colleagues makes it harder to focus. 

Here are some ways in which you can eliminate distraction when working: 

  • Install a notification blocker on your laptop or smartphone, so you work uninterrupted
  • Put your phone and other communication channels on “Do not disturb” mode
  • Temporarily uninstall distracting apps such as social media and games from your phone or desktop
  • Turn off email notifications so you’re not swayed to respond to new emails while working on critical tasks
  • If you’re working from your office, book a meeting room to work alone until you complete your work

7. Bid procrastination goodbye 

An experiment claims procrastinating is experienced the most when the task is more complicated. 

So here’s something you can do consciously to minimize procrastination: 

  • Break a difficult task into subtasks with achievable timelines instead of taking it all on. For example, a product owner can break down a new product launch into smaller sub-tasks such as website updates on days 1 and 3, pricing strategy on days 4 and 5, distribution on days 6 to 10, marketing automation on days 11 to 15, etc.
  • Set a time limit and track it using ClickUp’s Time Tracker Chrome Extension as you move from one task to the next 

8. Use visual tools for multitasking

If you manage multiple projects and have direct reports, you have no choice but to multitask often. 

Visual tools simplify multitasking and make every task seem achievable.

For example, Gantt Charts can show task dependencies and overlaps, Kanban Boards can help you visualize task progress, flowcharts can showcase task dependencies, and Mind Maps can help you brainstorm ideas. 

Gantt chart in ClickUp
Use the Gantt Chart view in ClickUp to schedule tasks, keep up with project progress, manage deadlines, and handle bottlenecks.

9. Streamline meetings 

Track your meeting hours, and you’d be surprised to find how time-consuming and least-productive some meetings are. 

Set up asynchronous updates using a task management tool to map project progress and cap the meeting duration with a clear agenda. 

That means no more hopping on “quick calls” or having to sit through 15-minute discussions that have turned into hours. 

ClickUp’s Clip feature helps you effectively communicate through screen recordings and eliminates the need for meetings. Record videos (Screen + Camera) from your browser and share them with your teammates.  

ClickUp Clip Screen Sharing and video sharing
Share your video message with a direct browser link that requires no downloads and can be viewed instantly after recording

10. Manage project deadlines 

Managing deadlines is not just about meeting them. It’s also about how efficiently you plan your work to meet a deadline. 

This includes setting clear dates for every task leading up to the completion of the project. 

This is where using ClickUp’s Calendar View can help in giving a bird’s eye view of all the events and timelines to keep in mind for the said project.

11. Develop a routine 

Are routines boring? Not really. The truth is, you’re already following a routine subconsciously. You use the same apps, eat at the same time every day, take the same route to work, etc.

So why not develop a fixed conscious routine for your work, too?

Here are some time management techniques to use to develop a routine: 

  • Schedule a specific time block for internal meetings and team discussions
  • Set a fixed period to address high-priority tasks before anything else; eat that frog!
  • Finish up at work at a fixed time daily, so your personal life is not impacted
  • Schedule an hour each day to respond to emails, for example, every day between 2 and 3 PM

12. Automate repetitive tasks 

Repetitive tasks such as document management, task updates, or reporting are low-value and time-consuming. 

Make it your mission to eliminate them from your daily workload through automation. It’s one of the most crucial time management skills to develop.

Not sure where and how to get started with automation? Try ClickUp Automation.

Assign new tasks, move task statuses, add comments, apply tags, and more on auto-pilot.

Automating workflows
Use pre-built automation recipes in ClickUp or customize them based on your needs so your team can focus where it matters most

13. Don’t skip breaks

Unplug and take breaks often to prevent burnout. Multiple studies have shown that breaks lead to greater productivity and job satisfaction. 

Managing time is as much about managing your energy— as you have the vigor and willingness to approach different daily priorities. As a thumb rule, take short breaks every 25 to 90 minutes of work. 

You could schedule a work break or set up a timer to track your work and alert you when it’s time to take a break. Your back will also thank you for it.

14. Learn to say no

Learning to say no is about setting boundaries. It protects your time, freedom, energy, and mental health.

You’ll be overwhelmed with additional work and dwindling priorities without specific boundaries. So, identify what’s less important so you can deal with essential tasks first before saying yes to new work. 

Set clear-cut expectations inside and outside your workplace so your friends, family, and colleagues know when to expect a response from you.  

15. See the bigger picture 

Are you overwhelmed with change or drowning in to-do lists? Stepping back could be the solution to see the bigger picture.

Step back and see what your biggest wins could be weeks or months from today. Note them down.

You’ll be better prepared for future projects, embrace change, plan time effectively, and understand when your plate is full. 

For instance, as an individual, you’ll want to check on your progress every month, while for your team, you’ll set up a quarterly review cycle. 

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Prioritize your Goals for Time Management to Get Ahead 

Consistency is one of the time management skills that is easier said than done. Remember, it’s okay not to get it right every day. We’re human, after all. 

If you’re overwhelmed, start with the bare minimum— set small trackable goals, prioritize tasks, delegate work, and allot specific time blocks.

But if you wish to operationalize these tactics and make them a part of your routine, ClickUp can help!

Want to become a time management pro? Try ClickUp for free today! 

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