Time management & discipline - How to use your time more effectively than ever before

Oh, if only I had more time... Have you ever had this thought? Of course, more time would be great. This article is all about time and time management. Before you read "time management" and click away immediately, give us a second to tell you something important: time management doesn't have to mean planning every day from A-Z. Nor does it mean finding more and more time for work. It's about mindful use of resources for a successful everyday life.

You may think "you're just not the type for that", but we promise you: There's something in this article for even the most disorganized. Everyone has what it takes to make better use of their time. Does better mean 100%? No. It doesn't mean perfection either. But to come back to the ubiquitous question - can you make more time? We believe yes. And we also believe that it can make us happier in the long run.

Frau schaut auf die Uhr.

Why time management is important

It's not just circumstances such as work stress that make us think about efficient and effective time management. You almost get the feeling that you have to be productive all the time. But life is more than just work. Time management can also make us more productive, happier and, above all, more time-conscious in our uninfluenced everyday lives. Our time belongs to us, not the other way around.

Time management does not mean increasing your own productivity at work infinitely.

It does help us to allocate our time wisely and carefully - but it should not become a tool for obsessive productivity. So how do you find the balance, the much sought-after work-life balance, and what's more in the home office?

Does time management really make sense?

The answer to this question depends heavily on your intentions. What do you want to achieve with your time management? If it is purely about increasing productivity, time management can definitely work. However, it should not be forgotten that good time management can be extended to your entire life. It sounds like a lot of work at first, but it pays off in the long run.

The efficient use of your working time also gives you more free time.

What really counts is your relationship with time in general. Unfortunately, the philosophy of time management is often distorted in society and used as a means of pressure to force yourself to be even more productive. You can listen to an insightful TED Talk about this here:

This is exactly why you will find detailed and essential steps below to get closer to successful and effective working from home in your home office: So that your work from home doesn't get out of hand at a time when your private living space mixes with your work space.

7 steps to taking control of your time

1. situation analysis

Before you start putting a scheduling method into practice, there are a few things to consider. In order to find an effective method and ultimately save time, you first need to take a close look at your life circumstances:

  • Work environment: physically, but also mentally. Do you have a lot of responsibility in the household and in your family? Do you have a separate office space? How likely are you to be distracted?
  • Work tasks and deadlines: What is the content of your work? Do you have strict deadlines to meet or are your tasks not particularly time-bound?
  • Existing infrastructure: What equipment is available to you? This includes both technical equipment and office furniture to consider. Don't forget to protect your health through ergonomics in the workplace in the best possible way. Working on the couch every day takes its physical toll.

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2. your personal sense and purpose

There's little point in embarking on a serious endeavor like scheduling your day if you don't know what exactly you're doing it for. Finding the optimal scheduling method also involves defining a purpose. This must apply to you individually.

  • Why exactly do you want to manage your time more consciously and mindfully?
  • What changes do you hope to see?
  • Where do you see yourself in 6 months after successfully applying time management?

The answers to these questions will also become the most significant motivating factor later on. At the end of the day, your own personal sense of purpose in time management is the clue that will help you to keep going.

Zeit planen geht einfacher als gedacht.

3. record habits and preferences

Now that you know what your situation is and why you want to optimize your time management, you need to take a second good look at yourself, because the way you work always depends on your habits.

  • Who are you and, above all, how do you work? What does your time management look like NOW?
  • Are you a morning person or a night owl?
  • Does the midday slump affect you a lot?
  • Do you work well under stress?
  • How do you communicate with the people you live with in difficult times?

4. create order

And off you go! Your first step is a bare start into a new era of time planning: this also means that you need to tidy up your desk. Too much chaos reduces productivity when working and distractions are much greater. So, get rid of the useless stuff and set off on an exciting adventure:

  • Tidy up your desk tidy up. Chaos at your desk will make you lose your cool and make it harder for you to concentrate.
  • Digital also needs to be organized: Take a few hours to tidy up, empty and reorganize all your files and folders. This will also save you valuable time in the long run, which you can use for yourself later.
  • Your emails should also be organized. Almost all mail hosts nowadays offer colored tags or the creation of folders. This way you won't get confused when checking your messages.

Frau arbeitet im Stehen an einem Sitz-Steh-Tisch.

5. choose a time management method

Now it's time to get down to business. Which time management method suits you and your situation? Of course, you can try out a tried-and-tested time management model such as the Pomodoro technique, Eisenhower method or the ALPEN principle: you can find a great overview of the best methods here. Or you can stick to the good old to-do list - depending on how important priorities and visual presentation are to you.

In any case, we recommend that you record your time management in writing in some way. Some people prefer digital planning methods for this, while others will decorate their entire home office with Post-Its.

Gut zu wissenimage

In principle, you've already done the most important thing: you know how you're using your time right now, you know your goal and you know your resources. Now it's up to you how best to combine all of this!

6. create a work plan

Almost there. You now know exactly which method will work best for you - at least in the current situation. Now it's time to create your daily schedule, weekly schedule or to-do lists.

You are completely free to be creative here. For example, choose one of the templates listed below or a practical app such as the FOCUS Time Management App to help you. You can also create your own plan in various spreadsheet programs or by hand.


Zeitmanagement Methoden

7. stay on the ball

This step may seem irrelevant to you now, but it has its rightful place here. It's all too easy to forget that despite great planning and analysis, sometimes things go wrong.

Come back here in a few weeks and evaluate your successes and failures using the time management method of your choice. Maybe you took on too much, maybe it worked out wonderfully! Either way, reflection is essential.

  • Have you noticed any changes? What changes do you still want to make?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed/underchallenged?
  • Does my everyday life feel more organized? Will I continue to manage my time in this way?

Discipline, not motivation

At the end of the day - and this is an unpleasant truth - the only thing that remains is discipline. Motivation is like a warm summer rain, so tempting and intense, but it doesn't last long. There will be times when no matter how well you've done, the motivation just won't be there, no matter what you try. This is where your discipline comes in, a habit that needs to be trained like a muscle.

Mann arbeitet konzentriert im Homeoffice.

How to stay disciplined

Discipline is a matter of practice, you don't learn it overnight. The following tips can help you stay motivated when your motivation starts to wane:

  • Small rewardsRewards are a very primitive but effective way of sticking to your goals. The important thing here is to reward yourself at times when you are motivated anyway. Otherwise, it will be more difficult to be disciplined and to appreciate and strive for the reward in the first place.
  • Highs and lowsBe aware of the fact that after a low comes a high. You can think of it like the last 10 push-ups in a workout with 50 push-up repetitions. It's incredibly hard, but you know it will soon be easier again. Grit your teeth and get through it!
  • Actively practise discipline: Yes, really! At times when you are full of drive and motivation, you should practise discipline the most. Then you won't find it too difficult and you'll get used to this feeling of overcoming in small steps. Just half an hour longer. Just 10 more squats. Push yourself on good days!

Your time belongs to you, not you to your time.

What you must and should not forget at the end of the day is that your time belongs to you alone. We all have to bow to society and the working life that comes with it to a certain extent, but many decisions are up to us. Some have the privilege of being able to allow themselves more freedom, others less.

However, separating private life from the world of work as much as possible and thus creating a healthy balance is still worth striving for in every situation. Scheduling may not be for everyone, but it's worth a try for everyone!

Resources and further reading:

Keynotes on time management: