Every client I’ve ever met has expressed wanting to improve their time management because they are STRESSED. Your lack of proper planning is causing you stress. Overextending yourself, attempting to accomplish long to-do lists instead of your top priorities, showing up more for others than yourself are some common reasons you may be overwhelmed in your daily life.

Other causes of stress include being under a lot of pressure, facing big changes, worrying about something, uncertainty, and a lack of control. We all deal with stressful moments. While there are some things that are out of your control, there are many things that are within your control, one of them being how your time is spent and how you react to your life’s circumstances. Time management doesn’t allow you to manage time itself. No one can do that, unfortunately. We all have the same 24 hours a day. However, time management is the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between specific activities. Here are seven ways you can implement better time management habits to reduce your stress and overwhelm.

1. Set SMART goals

If you aren’t setting yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, or even daily goals, please START. Goals give us purpose and something to achieve. If your goals are large and vague you will continue a cycle of burnout. Lack of clarity is one of the number one reasons people don’t achieve their goals and instead procrastinate. Your goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Hence the acronym, S.M.A.R.T. You have to break down large tasks into bite-sized achievable ones. Carve out time in your schedule to plan out your goals and spend the time to make them crystal clear. This will 10x your effectiveness.

Not sure where to start? Write your large goal at the top of a sheet of paper then write down all the little steps needed to hit that goal. Next place a deadline for each. Then place that sheet of paper somewhere where you will review it daily then get to work.

2. Prioritize your tasks

This is the number one way to become productive and feel a high sense of achievement. When you complete the tasks that mean the most to you, you’re way more inclined to feel better about what you accomplish daily. If you struggle with prioritization, ask yourself “what is the most important task I need to complete today in order to progress towards my goals?” From there, take action on your top priorities. People who accomplish three top priorities instead of 15 busy tasks are more satisfied with their lives.

3. Plan your day

Many people use their calendars to keep track of meetings. Think about it, when you have meetings on the calendar you get things done right so why not put other important life tasks on your calendar. I’m a strong believer in time blocking your schedule. If you’re not familiar with time blocking it’s when you plan out time frames for every activity you need to accomplish and you put it on your calendar. For instance, my gym time, meals, time with loved ones, and all work tasks are scheduled on my calendar. That way I ensure that I’m showing up in all aspects of my life. If you are struggling to juggle all the different aspects of your life need help with setting up an effective schedule, book a free strategy session with me. My coaching program might be a perfect solution for you.

4. Stop allowing others to distract you

I know how hard it is to not give in to all the digital and in-person distractions. When you are interrupted take a moment to identify whether what’s distracting you is more important than the task you’re aiming to focus on. If it isn’t, stop the distraction and get back to your focused work. After you’ve completed your task, reward yourself with a break where you can do something fun. The best ways to avoid distractions are to turn off your notifications on all your devices (yes even email), keep a notepad next to you for random thoughts that may come across your mind, and communicate to your loved ones that you need uninterrupted time.

5. Take small action when you feel like procrastinating

The number one way to stop procrastinating is to take a small action. Don’t think about the entire staircase, take one step in the process. Starting difficult tasks makes many of us feel anxious. Not feeling up to it is not an excuse to not do the tasks needed to reach our goals and dreams. You’re not always going to feel like doing something all the time. Behind your greatest moments is hard work, not excuses. Stop expecting massive results when you haven’t put in the work required to achieve such results. It’s the hard truth but it’s vital to develop the discipline required to be your best self. Protecting your peace is important but so stepping out of your comfort zone and getting things done.

6. Create the best environment for your productivity

I find it difficult to concentrate when I’m around a lot of people who are having side conversations or who are noisy. Determine the environment you excel best in. I work best in a well-lit fairly quiet environment. The most I’ll have in the background is music or a motivational video, depending on the task.

7. Set time limits

Try timing yourself. Set a deadline for your task, set a timer on your phone, then start. Make it feel like a game, see if you can beat the clock. In order to get where we dream to be, we have to do our best to overcome procrastination. It’s a daily, intentional process. You can train yourself to become comfortable being uncomfortable. A timer will create a sense of urgency. If it doesn’t work the first time, adjust the timer to a time period that works best for you.

**Bonus tip** Consider hiring a Time Management Coach like myself. Some people have never heard of this type of coach. As a Time Management Coach, I help full-time professionals who want to spend more time developing their side businesses, full-time entrepreneurs, and freelancers who feel overwhelmed and all over the place become organized, productive, and achieve their goals in a timely manner.