14 Time Management Systems Every Coach Must Know

time management systems

24 hours. That’s all we get in a day. Yet, why does it often feel like time’s slipping through our fingers like sand?

As life coaches, that balancing act becomes even more intricate. Hold on, though! Before you imagine me revealing a secret 25th hour of the day – I’m not. But I’ve got something just as powerful.

Systems. Strategies. Lifelines to streamline your own time management skills. Intrigued? Here’s what’s coming up:

  • Why you need a solid time management system
  • 14 best time management systems you can start using today 

Why You Need a Solid Time Management System

time management systems

For life coaches, time management is very important. And here are more reasons you need to pick and implement a time management system that works for you ASAP.

1. Get your priorities straight

Every second is a moment to transform a life, achieve a goal, or make a lasting impact. But what happens when those seconds, minutes, and hours blur into a whirlwind of tasks, clients, and deadlines?

It becomes sooo challenging to prioritize. 

Breaking down that lofty, intimidating goal into bite-sized tasks is what a time management system can do for you. 

Instead of a looming mountain, you see stepping stones. Each step you take, each task you check off, brings you closer to your goals. And it’s much easier to know what your goals are when you’ve prioritized them!

2. Keep distractions at bay

When you have a solid time management system, you stay away from DISTRACTIONS.

That ping on your phone, the allure of social media, or the chatty colleague can throw your entire day off course. 

With a well-honed time management system, these distractions don’t stand a chance. You’re in the driver’s seat, steering clear of time-wasters and staying laser-focused on your mission.

3. Buy back time for yourself

Time management systems make sure you’re wasting less time on trivial matters and focusing your energy where it truly counts. 

This means more clients served, multiple projects tackled, and hey, even some quality ‘me-time’ squeezed in.

You’re not just living for work but working to live, carving out precious moments for self-care, family, and those hobbies that bring you joy.

14 Best Time Management Systems You Can Start Using Today

Everyone is unique, meaning no time management system will work for you. That’s why I’ve gathered the 14 best time management systems you can try for yourself!

1. The Get Things Done (GTD) method

Have you heard of the Get Things Done (GTD) method?

Created by the genius mind of productivity guru David Allen, GTD is one of the most effective paper-based time management systems out there. 

Here’s how it works. Every task, every idea, every “Oh, I need to remember this!” moment goes down on paper or into an app.

No more forgetting, no more brain clutter. Just write it down and move on.

But, wait! Don’t just list down “Plan the client event.”

Dive a bit deeper. Break it down. What’s the venue? Have you sent out invites? What about the food?

See, when you disassemble tasks into actionable chunks, you get clarity. Each small action becomes a milestone you can tick off, and hey, doesn’t that feel good?

Here’s a visual representation of what your brainstorming session could look like with the GTD method:

time management systems

(Image Source)

Alright, so you’ve got a list. Now, what’s screaming, “DO ME NOW!”?

Not all tasks are created equal. Some demand your attention right now; others can wait. And that’s where prioritization comes in.

Sort your tasks by their urgency, importance, or perhaps even by the potential thrill of getting them done.

The goal? To streamline your focus and ensure you’re always addressing what matters most at any given moment.

2. Time-tracking software

So, you’ve got your to-do list, your calendar, your project management software, and your goals. But how do you know if you’re truly making the best use of your time? Enter time-tracking software, one of the most effective online time management systems out there.

Think of it as your personal time auditor. It keeps an eye on your tasks, shows you where those minutes are going, and highlights what’s truly eating up your day. 

Need to bill clients? Want to track time how long tasks take? Time tracking software has got you covered.

Here are some of the best time-tracking software you can use:


time management systems

Toggl is a user-friendly time-tracking app, meaning no hours are spent just trying to figure out how it works. You start a task, hit a button, and bam, you’re tracking. 

Create projects, assign tasks, and when you’re done, dive into detailed reports. 

Want to know how long a task really took? Or which project ate up most of your week? 

Toggl can tell you.


time management systems

Then there’s Harvest. 

It’s got some nifty features, like spotting when you’re probably taking a coffee break (or maybe just daydreaming) and pausing your tracking. No inflated hours here. 

And the best part? Turn those hours you tracked straight into invoices. So if you’re billing clients, this time management tool is a game-changer.


time management systems

And let’s not skip over RescueTime. This time tracking app is a bit special. 

You don’t need to tell it when to start or stop. It just knows. It quietly keeps tabs on how you spend your digital time, sending you handy reports later. 

Want to ensure you stay focused? Just set goals and get alerts.

Whichever task management software first catches your eye, there’s no denying the benefits. By using time-tracking software, you can make tweaks to your day, pinpoint time-drainers, and truly get the most from your hours.

3. The Pomodoro technique

Ever felt like your attention span has the life of a Snapchat story? Enter the Pomodoro technique, here to save your day.

Why the fancy name “Pomodoro”? Blame it on a tomato. Seriously. 

Francesco Cirillo, the brain behind this method, used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer back in the late 1980s. And in Italian, pomodoro means tomato. Makes sense now, right?

Here’s how it works: During those 25 minutes, you’re laser-focused. No distractions, such as checking emails or browsing social media. By dedicating your full attention to the task, you can accomplish more in a shorter amount of time.

After 25 minutes, you get to take a 5-minute break. You can use this time to stretch or refill your mug. These short breaks are essential for rejuvenating your mind and preventing burnout. They also serve as a reward for your super-focused work.

Now, after doing four of these cycles, you can enjoy a longer break. You could maybe step outside, do a bit of meditation, or simply enjoy some chill music.

time management systems

Wondering why the Pomodoro technique is so effective?

  • It Beats Procrastination: Big tasks seem scary. But in bite-sized 25-minute chunks? Totally doable. No more putting things off!
  • Master Your Time: With set work and break periods, you get a real sense of your work rhythm. You’re more in control, knowing where every minute goes.
  • Focus: With regular practice, your brain learns to zoom in during those 25 minutes. Distractions fade, and you get stuff done.

If you’re looking to increase productivity and keep distractions at arm’s length, the Pomodoro technique is your answer. 

4. The Eisenhower framework

This framework is inspired by none other than former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower. And no, it’s not about politics—it’s about organizing specific tasks smartly.

time management systems

Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Do First: Tasks that are urgent and important. You tackle these right away, with no delays.
  2. Schedule: Tasks that are important, but not super urgent. Plan them for later, but definitely make time for them.
  3. Delegate: Some tasks need doing, but not necessarily by you. Pass them onto someone else, and trust them to handle it.
  4. Don’t Do: Surprisingly, not every task on your list needs your attention. Recognize them and, if possible, remove them.

What’s the big win here? CLARITY.

With the Eisenhower framework, tasks and task management get simpler. You know what to handle now, what to plan for a later date, and what to hand off. Instead of just being busy, you become productive.

5. Time blocking

Ever tried time blocking? If not, here’s how it works:

You take your day and chop it into chunks

Each chunk, or “block,” is dedicated to a particular task or activity.

No mixing, no jumping between tasks. 

One block equals one focus.

Why do this? Three reasons:

  1. Helps you focus: When you know you only have, say, 30 minutes to tackle something, your concentration kicks in. 
  2. No need to multitask: Juggling multiple tasks, and multiple clients often means nothing gets the attention it deserves. With time blocking, you’re all in on one thing.
  3. Predictability: You know what’s coming next. After emails, it’s project work. After that, a break. Everything in its time.

A hot tip when using time blocking: Know when you’re at your best. If you’re a morning person, slot those high-brainpower tasks for the AM. If post-lunch is when you hit your stride, that’s your golden hour.

For instance, I don’t let anyone book calls in my calendar before 10 a.m. – because that’s my focus time. But I can get coaching done in the afternoon without any issues!

And hey, life’s unpredictable. So, sprinkle in some buffer blocks, like a 10-minute gap between major tasks. 

6. Kanban boards

Alright, let’s talk about Kanban boards. If you’re a fan of seeing things laid out in front of you, this is for you.

Imagine a board. Now, divide it into columns. Simple labels work best: “To Do,” “In Progress,” and “Completed.” 

Got it? Great!

Now, every task or part of a project you have gets its own card. These could be sticky notes, index cards, or whatever works. Drop them in the “To Do” column to start.

The beauty of this? As you work through tasks, you move their cards along the columns. Watching a task move from “To Do” to “Completed” feels satisfying. It’s like giving yourself a mini high-five!

Plus, the Kanban board doesn’t just show what you’re doing. It also shows where things might be slowing down. If there are too many cards stuck in “In Progress,” you know there’s a hold-up.

One of the easiest digital tools for using Kanban is Trello. 

time management systems

(Image Source)

But if you’re not a big digital planner, you can use sticky notes and a board to do the same thing!

7. Eat that frog

Ever felt a huge task looming over your day? Brian Tracy suggests: Face it first thing in the morning. 

Why? Knocking out that big task early gives you a burst of achievement. It’s like winning a mini-championship before lunchtime.

The real deal? No dreading it all day. Once that “frog” is out of the way, the rest of your tasks feel like a breeze. And bonus? Less procrastination. 

So, next time you’ve got that giant task staring you down, remember to eat that frog and clear your plate for the day.

8. The iceberg method

Here’s a fresh take on managing tasks: The Iceberg method.

Ever noticed how the biggest part of an iceberg is hidden under the water? That’s the idea. 

Your top-priority tasks are like that hidden portion – they’re super important but not always in plain sight.

So, what’s the game plan? Spend most of your time on these high-impact tasks. Sure, they might not always grab the spotlight right away, but they lay the groundwork for success in the long run.

By diving deeper into those crucial tasks, you steer clear from the less important ones that just eat up your time.

9. Bullet journaling

time management systems

(Image Source)

If you love a simple yet brilliant way to stay organized, bullet journaling is for you. Think of it as your personal dashboard. It’s where productivity meets your personal touch. 

At its core, bullet journaling is all about logs, calendars, and to-do lists. But here’s the fun part: you set the rules. Your journal, your style.

Want to track tasks? Use symbols. Got appointments or projects? There are signifiers for that. Every mark, every bullet, every jotting – it’s all in your control.

Bullet journaling is one of the most effective paper-based time management systems out there. It offers flexibility and puts you in the driver’s seat, making it as simple or detailed as you like. It’s your one-stop spot for everything – from your daily tasks to your biggest goals. 

And bonus: It’s a fantastic way to see how much you’ve achieved over time.

10. Autofocus

Ever felt bogged down by too many lists or categories? Enter Autofocus. Thanks to Mark Forster, there’s a way out of that categorization maze.

Here’s how it works: forget about categories or priorities. 

Focus on doing one task. Finish it. Then move to the next. 

Simple, right?

It’s a game-changer, especially if decisions aren’t your best suit or if structured lists make you dizzy. 

Just pick a task, any task. Something catching your eye? Something on your mind? Start there. The idea is to just roll with it. 

And the best part? You’re constantly moving forward, cutting down that to-do list without feeling stuck.

11. 7-minute life method

Allyson and Bryan Lewis brought this method into the spotlight. The idea? 

Tackle tasks in chunks. Not just any chunks, but 7-minute chunks.

Ever stared at a task and thought, “This is too much”? That’s where the 7 Minute Life method shines. Start by giving the task just seven minutes. No more, no less. Focus, work, and then take a breather.

You’d be surprised at what you can achieve in such a short span. And as you repeat this, you’ll feel the momentum building up. Before you know it, what once felt like a mountain becomes more manageable.

So, for those big, scary tasks, give the 7 Minute Life method a shot. It’s all about breaking things down and making progress, one 7-minute chunk at a time.

12. The 2-minute rule

David Allen, a productivity pro, came up with a golden idea. If a task is going to take you less than two minutes? Don’t think twice, just do it. Right there, right then.

Sounds simple? That’s because it is. And it’s powerful too.

Those tiny tasks? The ones that you think, “I’ll do it later”? They add up, clogging your to-do list and clouding your mind.

But with the 2-minute rule in play, that clutter doesn’t stand a chance. You handle small tasks on the spot, keeping your list clean and your mind clear.

Less procrastination, more action. 

And the best part? You keep the momentum going, one quick task at a time.

13. The 4D technique

You’ve got a task. What next?

Well, the 4D technique lays out four options for you:

  • Do: If it’s crucial and needs your attention, roll up those sleeves and get to it.
  • Delegate: If someone else can handle it, hand it over. It frees up your plate and gets the job done.
  • Defer: Not urgent right now? Schedule it for later.
  • Delete: If it’s not adding value or aligning with your goals, scratch it off.

It’s a neat system. One that filters out the noise and lets you zero in on what truly matters.

Keep in mind that this works best if you’ve hired a virtual assistant to delegate some tasks to.

By using the 4D technique, you keep your to-do list crisp, ensuring you’re investing time where it counts the most. It’s all about smart choices and staying aligned with your goals.

14. The 1-3-5 rule

Got a long to-do list staring back at you? Here’s how you can make it more manageable with the 1-3-5 rule.

Each day, pick:

  • One big task
  • Three medium tasks
  • Five small tasks

That’s it. Sounds doable, right?

The best thing about this rule is it helps balance your day. You’re not just stuck doing tiny tasks or drowning in a big project. You spread your energy across tasks of varying sizes.

By following this rule, you won’t feel swamped. You have a clear plan for the day. And ticking off those completed tasks, big or small, gives you that sweet sense of achievement.

Choose the Best Time Management System for You

If you’re a coach, having the right time management system is a game-changer. Why? It boosts your personal productivity and helps you hit those goals. There’s no one-size-fits-all, perfect time management system, so it’s all about finding the perfect fit for you.

Check out these 14 effective time management systems. Give a few a try. See what clicks. 

Over time, you might tweak things a bit to match your style, and that’s okay. The key is to keep refining your approach.

Managing your time well is about growth and change. So stay committed, and you’ll see your productivity levels shoot up.

And if you need help managing your time and getting rid of the busy work that’s involved with running a coaching business… look no further than Paperbell! This all-in-one coaching tool automates the admin side of your business so you can focus on what you do best. Give it a try for free to see how easy it can be!

time management systems

By Charlene Boutin
Charlene is an email marketing and content strategy coach for small business owners and freelancers. Over the past 5 years, she has helped and coached 50+ small business owners to increase their traffic with blog content and grow their email subscribers.
October 11, 2023

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