There are plenty of time management tips available, both in self-help books, in blogs, and from all your out-of-town relatives. But while many of these tips may sound good (or maybe don’t!), they just are not practical for daily life.

They either aren’t logical, or deny the existence of other roles and responsibilities a person might have in their life.

Time Management Tips

Some of the best advice about time management comes from Penelope Trunk, with her four simple rules for time management that actually make sense.

Her first rule is based on the idea that any time management experiments shouldn’t risk the sanity of those around you. Lots of advice that circles about is crazy, not acknowledging that there are people in your life who depend on you.

Restrictive diets and bizarre sleep schedules tend to punish your family, sometimes making more work for them, which is not fair.

Any experiments with time management should be limited, to benefit family, friends, and coworkers. For example, try 15 minute increments. Adding fifteen minutes of yoga a day isn’t too intrusive. It can be fit in before dinner or between meetings. Besides, it might be easier than fitting in an hour class.

Another bit of advice Penelope Trunk has is to get rid of the single to-do list. She believes that “time management is less about lists and schedules and more about emotions and perceptions.” The benefit of multiple to-do lists is that you can organize the different roles and responsibilities in your life and allow you to focus on what is at hand.

Though Penelope Trunk says these multiple lists can be more complicated to look at, I believe that overall things become less confusing. A lengthy to-do list can be daunting. A few shorter lists, some for home and some for work, make more sense.

To quote Penelope Trunk, “An empty inbox is for full timers.” The idea of an empty inbox makes a person feel like they are organized and accomplished. But stressing about keeping the inbox empty is hard, and only generally works for people with a set work routine.

It doesn’t work for part-timers or those who work from home. Sometimes a full inbox just means a person paid attention to other stuff that day. Sure, it is good to stay organized and on top of things, but don’t obsess if all things don’t work out right.

Lastly, Penelope Trunk advises people to manage their time by the week and by the month, not by the day or hour. The basis of time management is to prioritize work and family duties. True balance is impossible to achieve, she claims, but finding sanity and meeting expectations is.

A person focusing on time management needs to decide who needs what that week and schedule that time. This allows for minor changes and even interruptions that won’t drive a person insane by interrupting the schedule.