3 Steps To Help You Better Manage Your Time

If your time management is getting out of control, here are 3 steps that might help.

1. Take control. If you don’t manage your time, everybody else will.

2. Make a list. Think of all the things you have to do and put them into 3 columns… Seriousness, Urgency, and Growth.

3. Prioritize. Use the simple formula below.

After doing all 3 steps, act accordingly.

Here’s more detail on how to do this, including the simple formula and an example.

1. Take Control. Here’s how. Understand that there are two kinds of time. There is imposed time (you have no choice) and discretionary time (you have choice).

So, start by managing the time you control leastimposed time. After all, you have no choice. Figure out what has to be done here first.

If you list all the things that are imposed, you can manage your discretionary time around the things that are imposed.

Now, here’s the next step. The formula.

2. Make a List. Make a list of all the things you need to do right now (the ‘issues’). Then put 3 column headings beside the list (see sample table below).

The 3 columns are Seriousness (how important is it to get it done?), Urgency (is there a time frame on this issue?) and Growth (will it get worse if I do nothing or will it stay the same?).

3. Prioritize. For EACH item, under each of the 3 columns, ask yourself…

How Serious is it to get this done? High, medium, low?

How Urgent is it to get this done? High, medium, low?

Will it Grow? If you do nothing, will it stay the same or get worse?

Once you’ve done this, now you can ‘order’  the actionable items to be done and manage your time better. Here’s how.

Start with Seriousness and rank the items you rated  ‘high’ first. Those that rank ‘high’ take priority.

But if there is more than one item marked ‘high’ in the Seriousness column, go to the Urgency column to break the tie between the items rated ‘high’. To do this, just choose the item that is also rated ‘high’ Urgency. In the example below, there are two ‘highs’ in Seriousness, so it is necessary to go to the Urgency column to determine which gets priority.

And, if you still can’t break the tie, choose the items marked ‘yes’ in the Growth column.

You will immediately notice that the list now prioritizes itself. Just assign the numbers 1-6  in the right column.

In the chart below we give an example.  We use 6 issues or ‘actionable items’ – you may have more or fewer.


(‘actionable item’ to be done)


(how important is it to get it done?)


(is there a time frame on this issue?)


(will the issue escalate if I do nothing?)


(assign a number based on the formula)

Take clothes to cleaners





Schedule offsite





Meet with boss





Prepare summary  report for weekly meeting





Meet with client to finalize deal





Schedule golf game with top client



(Because the client is going on vacation)



©2013 Breakthrough Management Inc.

It quickly becomes clear that ‘Prepare summary report for weekly meeting’ should be done first and that ‘Take clothes to the cleaners’ is bottom of this priority list.

This simple tool just self-prioritized your work. If it works for you, congratulate yourself on becoming a better time manager.


  • Ross Winters

    As a person in professional transition i thought I’d have all of the time in the world to do stuff, wrong! I quickly realized that i need to manage my time like a ninja warrior, so thanks for the article, i’ve re-read a few times and it helps.

  • http://btmgmt.net/ Philippe & John

    Thanks Ross. Glad it helped!