How to Make Time for Work that Matters: 15 Tips for Success

Your time (even at work) is precious. Make it count.

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

How to make time for work that matters

Ever felt like your workday just disappears without getting to the work that matters? You’re not alone. Many professionals find themselves caught in the tangle of work about work — those activities that offer little personal satisfaction.

If you’re eager to enhance your time management techniques and maximize your daily productivity, you’ve landed on the perfect page. Here, we’ll explore 15 practical tips designed to revamp your everyday routine and share practical advice on how to sidestep the pitfalls of the modern workplace.

Embracing these time management techniques will help you allocate more hours to tasks with real impact, while minimizing the time spent on activities that just consume your day without adding value.

1. Plan on Fridays

As the week winds down, take this chance to set up your next week for success.

Block off time on Friday afternoons to review your accomplishments and outline your goals for the upcoming week. This isn’t just list-making; it’s strategic planning. Consider your long-term objectives, and align your weekly tasks accordingly.

By planning on Fridays, you ensure that, when Monday comes, you’re not stuck in the starting blocks — you’re already in stride, prepared to tackle the week with a clear direction and focus. According to Science Direct, a well-planned Friday can be the launchpad for a week where you not only meet, but also exceed, your targets.

2. Identify low-value tasks

Time is a finite resource, and how you spend it can make the difference between an average day and a highly productive one.

Start by analyzing your to-do list with a critical eye. Ask yourself: “Does this task lead me closer to my goals?” If it doesn’t, it’s a candidate for the chopping block.

Knowledge workers often find themselves mired in activities that offer little personal satisfaction or advancement — these are the low-hanging fruits for elimination or delegation. By trimming these time-wasters from your daily agenda, you make room for more high-value work that propels you forward. Remember: it’s not about doing more, but about doing more of what matters.

3. Batch similar tasks

Bundling similar tasks is like hitting multiple targets with one arrow. This approach, known as “batch processing”, minimizes the mental load of switching between different types of activities. For example, if you have several emails to send, draft and send them all in one go. Or if you need to make client calls, block a specific time in your day for just that.

By organizing your workday into dedicated blocks for similar tasks, you create a rhythm that enhances focus and efficiency. Plus, it’s satisfying to check off a chunk of related tasks all at once!

4. Set clear goals

Beginning each day with a clear idea of what you want to achieve is like setting a GPS for your time. Clear goals act as beacons, guiding your efforts and helping you sidestep distractions.

Each morning, jot down your top three priorities for the day. But be specific — vague goals are less actionable. Instead of saying “Work on the report”, specify “Complete the first draft of the budget report”.

This precision gives you a concrete target and a tangible sense of accomplishment once you hit it. And remember: it’s fine to adjust your goals as needed, but having them is non-negotiable for staying on track.

5. Limit meeting time

Take control of your calendar by critically evaluating the necessity of each team meeting. Not every conversation requires a conference room or a Zoom call. If the purpose of a meeting can be accomplished with a quick email or a brief chat, choose the more efficient route. When a meeting is essential, set a strict time limit and stick to an agenda to ensure it’s productive.

Encourage brevity by starting with the most critical points. This discipline will help you and your team reclaim hours for focused, meaningful work, rather than getting bogged down in discussions that could have been an email.

6. Delegate

The art of delegation is key to amplifying your productivity. Identify tasks that don’t require your unique expertise, and assign them to capable team members. Trusting others to handle certain responsibilities not only empowers them, but also frees you to focus on work that only you can do.

Start by delegating small tasks and gradually increase as your confidence in your team grows. This creates a dual benefit: you can concentrate on high-level work, and your team develops new time management skills and a greater sense of ownership. Effective delegation can significantly multiply the amount of high-value work being done, benefiting the whole team.

7. Leverage technology

Embrace the power of technology to take on repetitive tasks. Today’s market offers many tools designed to automate your day-to-day duties, from scheduling appointments to sorting emails. Implementing software that can handle such tasks not only frees up your time, but also reduces human error.

Identify the most time-consuming tasks that don’t require a personal touch, and find a tech solution. Whether it’s a project management tool, a customer relationship management system or an automated invoicing service, let technology streamline your workflow and save you precious hours.

8. Prioritize learning

Investing time in learning can seem counterintuitive when your schedule is packed, but the long-term gains are invaluable. Dedicate a slot in your week to develop new skills or enhance existing ones. This could be through online courses, webinars or even a dedicated reading hour.

By expanding your skill set, you’re not only increasing your value as a professional, but also discovering new ways to work more efficiently. Moreover, continuous learning keeps you adaptable, a critical trait in today’s fast-paced work environment. So, prioritize education, because the more you know, the more you can achieve with less effort.

William Sipling, Director of Workforce Transformation at Hubstaff, has this to say about continuous education: “When it comes to learning, it’s ‘garbage in, ‘garbage out.’ You’ll only be as skilled as the knowledge you’re consuming and retaining. So then, think of training as an investment into greater productivity and creativity. If you spend an hour on a webinar, but that hour’s worth of training teaches you a skill that saves you fifteen minutes every single workday, then it’ll only take a week for that time to ‘pay for itself,’ and that’s not even including the long-term benefits that new skill will bring to you.”

9. Say “no” when needed

Learning to say “no” is a crucial skill in guarding your time against unnecessary requests, as reported in the literature review “Does Time Management Work?”. While it’s important to be collaborative, not every meeting invite or new task is the best use of your time.

Evaluate each request against your key responsibilities and goals — if they don’t align, it’s okay to decline politely. Offer alternative solutions or delegate if possible. This ensures that you’re not just busy, but productive, focusing on work that matters and contributes to your success.

10. Optimize your workspace

Your environment has a huge impact on productivity. An optimized workspace — organized and free from clutter — can streamline your work process and shave minutes or even hours off your work day.

Start by decluttering your desk and digital desktop. Keep only the essentials within reach, and maintain a system for everything else, whether it’s a filing cabinet or a set of virtual folders. A clear space promotes a clear mind, and when you know exactly where everything is, you can work more smoothly and efficiently.

11. Take regular breaks

Never underestimate the power of a good break. It might seem counterproductive to step away from your desk when there’s work to be done, but short, regular breaks can actually enhance your concentration and productivity. These pauses are a reset button for your brain, helping to prevent burnout and maintain a steady level of performance.

Try the Pomodoro technique, which involves working for 25 minutes, followed by a five-minute break. This method not only helps to keep your mind fresh but also keeps you motivated throughout the day.

12. Harness peak hours

Everyone has certain times during the day when their energy and concentration peak. Pay attention to when you feel most alert, and guard this time for your most demanding tasks.

If you’re a morning person, tackle the big projects first thing. If you hit your stride in the afternoon, reserve that time for work that requires deep focus.

By aligning your toughest tasks with your high-energy hours, you’ll handle them more effectively and efficiently, leaving less challenging work for when your energy dips.

13. Review your day

End your day with a brief reflection on what you’ve achieved and what could be improved. This isn’t about being hard on yourself; it’s about recognizing patterns and making adjustments.

Ask yourself which tasks you managed well and which ones you didn’t — and why. Did any unexpected events throw you off course? How can you better handle them next time?

Use this insight to fine-tune your plan for the next day, setting realistic and focused goals. This daily review is a cornerstone habit that builds a stronger, more productive workflow over time.

14. Eliminate distractions

Distractions are the archenemies of productivity. Start by identifying the biggest culprits — is it your phone, social media or perhaps interruptions from colleagues? Once pinpointed, take proactive steps to mitigate them.

If digital alerts are the issue, try muting notifications or scheduling specific times to check emails. If it’s human interruptions, set clear boundaries when you need to focus. Even small changes, like using noise-canceling headphones or putting up a “Do Not Disturb” sign, can significantly boost your ability to concentrate and complete tasks more efficiently.

15. Foster efficient communication

Effective communication is vital for streamlined teamwork. Encourage your team to communicate with clarity and purpose. This means being concise in emails, being prepared for meetings with agendas and objectives, and favoring direct conversation over lengthy email threads when appropriate.

Establish clear communication protocols and use tools that enable collaboration without confusion. For example, a project management tool can track progress and provide updates without the need for constant meetings or check-ins. Efficient communication leads to fewer misunderstandings and, as a result, less time correcting mistakes and more time moving forward.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, the essence of boosting your workday centers on enhancing work confidence by concentrating on tasks that truly matter. It’s about astute work management, ensuring knowledge workers dedicate their time to impactful endeavors rather than just staying busy.

The key takeaway should be this: reduce unnecessary meetings to carve out more time for work that ignites your passion. This shift helps you break free from the mundane cycle of “work about work”, and directs your efforts towards activities that yield personal satisfaction and contribute to your professional advancement.

Keep in mind that your time is valuable — invest it in what genuinely counts.

How do you make time for work that matters? Let us know in the comments section below.