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6 Effective Time Management Strategies

Being able to use effective time management strategies is crucial for women who juggle multiple responsibilities. In this hectic world, finding balance and ensuring productivity can be challenging, especially if you have executive dysfunction.

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In this article, we will explore six practical and effective time management strategies for busy neurodivergent women. By implementing these strategies, you can take control of your time, reduce stress, and accomplish more with greater efficiency.

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Strategy 1: Prioritize Your Tasks

Effective time management begins with prioritizing your tasks. When you have multiple responsibilities and limited time, it's crucial to identify the most important and urgent tasks to tackle first. Here's how to prioritize:

Understand the Importance of Prioritization:

Prioritization involves assessing tasks based on their significance and aligning them with your goals and values. Recognize that not all tasks hold the same level of importance, and focusing on the right ones can make a significant difference in your productivity and overall outcomes.

If you are neurodivergent, this might not be something that comes naturally to you. Everything might feel like it’s equally important. After all, you do have to do everything. Prioritization is about deciding what needs to happen first.

Evaluate Task Importance and Urgency:

Take the time to evaluate each task's importance and urgency. Importance refers to how relevant and impactful a task is in relation to your goals and objectives. Urgency indicates the time sensitivity or deadline associated with a task. By considering both factors, you can determine which tasks should take precedence over others.

Use Prioritization Techniques:

One popular approach is the Eisenhower Matrix, which categorizes tasks into four quadrants: important and urgent, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and neither urgent nor important. This matrix helps you focus on tasks that align with your long-term goals and require immediate attention. The items that are both important and urgent get done first.

Another helpful technique is the ABC method, where you assign a priority label (A, B, or C) to each task. Tasks labeled as “A” are high priority and require immediate action. “B” tasks are important but can be addressed after completing “A” tasks, while “C” tasks are nice-to-do but not critical. This method aids in focusing on the most important tasks first.

Consider Deadlines and Time Constraints:

When prioritizing, factor in deadlines and time constraints associated with tasks. Identify tasks with approaching deadlines or those that require more time to complete. This ensures that you allocate sufficient time and resources to tasks that have specific time-sensitive requirements.

You also want to check your energy levels when looking at those deadlines. Know when you have the best focus and use that time for the most complex tasks.

Effective prioritization allows you to focus your time and energy on tasks that have the most significant impact on your goals and desired outcomes. By prioritizing tasks, you can ensure that you make progress on what really matters and avoid getting overwhelmed by less crucial or time-consuming activities.

6 Effective time management strategies - a hand holding a clock

Strategy 2: Set SMART Goals

Setting SMART goals is a fundamental aspect of effective time management. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. By incorporating these elements into your goal-setting process, you can enhance your focus, motivation, and overall time management. Here's a more detailed exploration of this strategy:


When setting goals, be specific about what you want to achieve. Clearly define the desired outcome and the actions required to accomplish it. Specificity provides clarity and helps you stay focused on the task at hand.

For example, instead of setting a vague goal like “Improve productivity,” a specific goal would be “Increase productivity by completing at least three major tasks each day.”


Measurable goals allow you to track your progress and determine when you have achieved them. Establish concrete criteria or metrics to assess your success. Measurement provides a sense of accomplishment and motivates you to keep moving forward.

For instance, instead of setting a goal like “Read more books,” a measurable goal would be “Read one book per month.”


Goals should be challenging yet attainable. Assess your capabilities, resources, and time constraints to ensure that your goals are realistic. Setting achievable goals prevents you from becoming overwhelmed or demotivated by setting unrealistic expectations.

For example, if you have a busy schedule, setting a goal to complete a complex project in one day may not be achievable. Instead, break it down into smaller, manageable tasks that can be completed within a feasible timeframe.


Goals should align with your overall objectives, values, and priorities. Ensure that the goals you set are relevant to your personal or professional growth. Consider the impact and significance of the goal within the context of your broader aspirations.

For instance, if your long-term goal is to start a business, relevant goals could be acquiring specific skills, conducting market research, or creating a business plan.


Time-bound goals have specific deadlines or target dates for completion. This helps create a sense of urgency and prevents tasks from lingering indefinitely. Assigning timeframes holds you accountable and enables better planning and time allocation.

For example, instead of setting a goal like “Learn a new language,” a time-bound goal would be “Learn basic conversational skills in Spanish within six months.”

By setting SMART goals, you give yourself a roadmap for your activities and improve your ability to manage your time effectively.

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Strategy 3: Create a Daily Schedule

Creating a daily schedule is an effective time management strategy that helps you structure your day, stay organized, and make the most of your time. I am a huge fan of planners, but it’s important for you to define what that planner is and what it looks like.

Understand the Benefits of a Daily Schedule:

A daily schedule brings order to your day. It allows you to allocate specific time blocks to different tasks, ensuring that you have dedicated time for work, personal activities, and self-care. By having a schedule, you can maximize productivity, minimize wasted time, and reduce decision fatigue. Planning your time can ease the struggle of executive dysfunction so that in the moment, you know what you need to do.

Choose a  Method:

Select a scheduling method that works best for you. You can opt for a traditional paper planner, a digital calendar, or specialized productivity apps. Find a method that aligns with your preferences and allows you to easily view and manage your schedule. You might need to practice with a few different things before you find the tool that works best for you.

I know you’re probably tired of being told to just use a planner. I know how frustrating that can be when you have tried and it didn’t work for you. To that, I say that you used the wrong tool. In general, if you have executive dysfunction, you can’t rely on your memory to get things done. Even if you remember, other issues may block your ability to accomplish the tasks. A schedule can help you stay on track.

planner with hourly time slots and a pen sitting on top

Time Blocking Technique:

Time blocking is an effective technique for creating a daily schedule. Divide your day into blocks of time and assign specific tasks or activities to each block. For example, you can allocate a block of time in the morning for focused work, another for meetings or appointments, and another for personal time or relaxation. The blocks of time should be designed with your personal energy and focus levels in mind. If you can’t do a solid hour on a task, don’t use hour-long blocks.

Allocate Realistic Time Slots:

When creating your schedule, be realistic about the time required for each task. Avoid overloading your schedule with more tasks than you can realistically complete. Allow for buffer time between tasks to account for unforeseen events, breaks, or transitioning between activities.

Time blindness is a real thing. If you suffer from time blindness, you’re not rude or inconsiderate or dumb. You just really don’t know how long things take. The only way for you to really know how much time is needed is to time yourself doing it.

Balance Work and Breaks:

Ensure your schedule includes regular breaks to rest and recharge. Avoid continuous work without breaks, as it can lead to burnout and reduced productivity. Filling every time block with work may make it seem like you’re going to be super productive, but in reality, you’re setting yourself up for failure. You’ll burn out.

Schedule short breaks for stretching, walking, or engaging in activities that help clear your mind and rejuvenate your energy. If you can’t leave for your break, at least turn away from the task at hand. Put your computer to sleep, close the folder, step away from your desk, and pace the office. Maybe just lean back in your chair and close your eyes for a few minutes.

Review and Reflect:

At the end of each day (or maybe at the end of the week), review your schedule and reflect on your accomplishments and areas for improvement. Celebrate what you completed and evaluate how well you stuck to your schedule. Make note of any adjustments or lessons learned that can inform future scheduling.

Creating a daily schedule allows you to take control of your time and make intentional choices about how you allocate it. That means if you’re scrolling TikTok in the middle of the day, you chose to do it as a break. You’re not wasting time or procrastinating because you don’t know what you should be doing.

Strategy 4: Minimize Distractions

Minimizing distractions is vital for effective time management, especially if you are easily distracted and have a hard time refocusing on your tasks. How can you minimize distractions?

Identify Common Distractions:

Start by identifying the distractions that frequently hinder your productivity. These distractions can vary from person to person but may include social media, email notifications, excessive noise, or interruptions from colleagues or family members. What is distracting to one person is insignificant to another. By recognizing your specific distractions, you can develop targeted solutions.

Create a Distraction-Free Environment:

I know that this is a perfect-world scenario, and it might not be possible for you. But if you can, designate a distraction-free workspace where you can concentrate on your tasks without unnecessary interruptions. For me, that just means my office door is closed. My family knows when the door is closed, they can’t bother me. You might not have a door to close.

Minimize noise by using headphones or finding a quiet area, especially if you need quiet to focus. The headphones should dissuade people from bugging you. If possible, communicate with those around you about your need for uninterrupted time during specific periods. I know some people who hang a sign near their desk letting people know when it’s okay to interrupt.

hand holding an iPhone with a list of notifications on the screen

Turn Off Notifications:

As fabulous as our phones are, they tend to be huge time sucks. And often, we’re not even aware of how much time we lose to them. Disable or silence notifications on your devices. These can include email alerts, social media notifications, or messaging apps. You might think you can just ignore them, but do you really have that kind of willpower? Personally, the only notifications I keep on my phone are texts because that’s how my kids reach me. I don’t allow notifications for anything else.

Schedule specific times to check and respond to messages rather than constantly being reactive to every notification. Notifications (silent or not) are things that give us a sense of urgency. It came in, so you need to deal with it right away. You tell yourself it’ll only take a few seconds. And you may be right. But those few seconds every time you are interrupted add up. In addition, it doesn’t account for the loss of focus and having to reorient yourself to the task you were working on. It ends up being a lot more than a few seconds.

Establish Set Work Hours:

If you have a regular job, this might not be a factor for you. But lots of my neurodivergent people don’t work regular 9-5 jobs. So if you have flexibility, establish set work hours when you focus solely on your tasks. The perk to having flexibility is that you can pick and choose your hours. You really can work at the best times for your brain.

However, sometimes that means that you make yourself available all the time, which isn’t healthy. Communicate these set hours with colleagues and family members, letting them know when you are available and when interruptions should be minimized.

Practice Single-Tasking:

Instead of multitasking, which can lead to reduced productivity and increased distractions, practice single-tasking. Focus on one task at a time, giving it your full attention before moving on to the next. This approach promotes concentration and helps you accomplish tasks more effectively.

I’ve talked about the trap of multi-tasking before. We trick ourselves into thinking that we’re doing more because we start 15 different things, but none of them get done. By focusing on one thing at a time, you’ll actually see progress.

Use Website and App Blockers:

If you’re easily tempted by certain websites or apps, consider using blockers or productivity tools that restrict access during specific periods. The Freedom app lets you customize what gets blocked. StayFocused is a Chrome browser extension that limits the time you can spend on certain sites and you can block site access. These tools can help you stay on track and minimize time wasters.

Take Regular Breaks:

I know it seems weird that in a section where I’m talking about minimizing distractions, I tell you take breaks. However, taking regular breaks can improve productivity by providing mental and physical rejuvenation. Giving yourself specific times to move around, walk away from work, or just check social media help prevent burnout and reduce the likelihood of succumbing to distractions.

You do those things—allowing the distractions—because many of them give you the dopamine hit you want. They make your brain feel happy. By forcing yourself to ignore all of those things, you can feel deprived. It’s like deciding to go on a diet and giving up everything you love. There’s a good possibility that you’ll not only cheat a little, but totally fall of the track.

By implementing these strategies to minimize distractions, you can create an environment and mindset that support optimal concentration and productivity. Remember that minimizing distractions is an ongoing practice that requires self-awareness and discipline. We’re so used to living in a world of constant distractions that you might not even be aware of all of them.

woman on the beach holding a copy of The 4-hour work week in front of her face

Strategy 5: Delegate and Outsource

Delegation and outsourcing are powerful strategies for effective time management. By effectively delegating tasks to others and outsourcing certain responsibilities, you can free up your time and focus on activities that really require your expertise and attention.

Some of us have a hard time delegating. Part of it is that we don’t know who to trust to delegate or we don’t know how to delegate (you mean I have to explain this job to someone?), but part of it is also that we feel like we’re somehow failing if we don’t do it all.

Understand the Value of Delegation and Outsourcing:

Recognize that you don't have to do everything yourself. Delegation involves assigning tasks to others who are capable and available to handle them, while outsourcing involves hiring external individuals or services to perform specific tasks or functions. Instead of viewing delegation as you slacking off, view it as a means to be able to accomplish more.

Identify Tasks Suitable for Delegation:

Start by identifying tasks that can be delegated without compromising quality or efficiency. Focus on tasks that don't require your unique skills or expertise, repetitive tasks, or those that can be easily taught to others. This can include administrative work, data entry, research, or routine maintenance.

This is something that you can do at home, too. Are the kids able to do their own laundry? Can they make themselves breakfast? Can they vacuum? They might not do things exactly as you would, but is it good enough? To that, I say heck yeah because now I don’t have to do it.

Assess the Skill Sets of Others:

Evaluate the strengths and abilities of the people around you, whether they are colleagues, employees, or family members. Determine who has the necessary skills and capacity to handle the tasks you wish to delegate. This part does require a bit of thought on your part because if you’ve ever asked someone to do something and they didn’t have the skills, you know how frustrating it is because you had to go redo the task.

However, taking some time to figure out who will be good for which tasks will ultimately give you a lot more time for the more complex things that only you can do.

Communicate Clearly:

When delegating tasks, ensure that you provide clear instructions and expectations. This can sometimes be difficult because tasks that you do with ease are things you don’t necessarily think about. You need to be able to explain it to the person you’re handing it off to. Which is part of why so many of us shy away from delegating. We convince ourselves that it would just be faster to do it ourselves than to try to explain it.

But if you’ve chosen the right person, you can train them once and then they can get as fast and as good as you. Remember to clearly communicate the expectations and deadlines, and offer open communication for the person to ask questions or seek clarification.

Evaluate the Cost-Benefit Ratio:

Assess the cost-benefit ratio of delegation and outsourcing. Consider the time and effort saved versus the financial investment required. Often, the value gained from freeing up your time and focusing on higher-priority tasks outweighs the cost of delegation or outsourcing. It’s important to look at the whole picture, not just this day or this week. As I mentioned, you might lose some time to figure out who to delegate tasks to and then train them, but once that is done, how much do you gain?

By delegating and outsourcing tasks, you can use the skills and capabilities of others to help increase your productivity, which will allow you to focus on more important activities.

Strategy 6: Learn to Say No

Learning to say no is a crucial skill for effective time management. By setting boundaries and prioritizing your commitments, you can avoid overloading your schedule and ensure that your time is spent on activities that matter most to you. So many of us are people pleasers and we say yes to everyone and everything, even when we know we shouldn’t.

Understand the Power of Saying No:

Understand that saying no is not a sign of weakness or selfishness but rather a way to protect your time and energy. It allows you to maintain control over your schedule and focus on activities that truly matter to you. Overextending yourself all the time will lead to burnout and then you won’t be able to do anything.

Assess Your Capacity:

Consider your current workload and commitments before accepting new requests. Evaluate your available time, resources, and energy levels. Be realistic about what you can comfortably handle without jeopardizing your well-being or the quality of your work. And if you’re not sure that you can be realistic, take a step back and talk to a loved one or friend who will be able to tell when you’re stressed out and overcommitted.

We tend to think that we can take on something and “it won’t be that much,” only to find out that it is routinely more than we thought. This goes double if you’re neurodivergent and have time blindness. You have to realize that you don’t have an endless supply of time and energy, so this assessment is vital.

Set Boundaries:

Establish clear boundaries around your time and communicate them assertively. Let others know about your existing commitments and limitations. Explain that you have priorities and responsibilities that require your attention, and politely decline requests that do not align with them.

It’s important that you also stick to your boundaries. If you regularly set a boundary and then don’t stick to it, it tells others that it’s not a real boundary.

Practice Polite Declination:

When saying no, be respectful and considerate in your response. Express gratitude for the opportunity or invitation, but firmly explain that you are unable to accommodate the request at this time. Offer a brief explanation if necessary, but avoid over-apologizing or providing excessive justifications.

And realize that an explanation is rarely necessary. No is a complete sentence all on its own. You don’t have to justify why you’re saying no. Many times that justification gives people the space to try and talk you into taking on the task anyway.

Use “I” Statements:

Frame your response using “I” statements to assert your own needs and limitations. For example, say, “I'm currently working on a project with a tight deadline, so I won't be able to take on any additional tasks at the moment.”

Suggest Alternatives:

If you can, offer alternatives or compromises to help the person seeking your assistance. Maybe you know the perfect person for the task or you can suggest a better way to get something done. But be sure that when you make these recommendations, the person understands that you’re not signing on to be in charge of it.

Learn to Manage Guilt:

It's natural to feel a sense of guilt or obligation when saying no—especially if you’re a people pleaser or you worry about people not liking you. Rejection sensitivity can make this extra hard. However, remind yourself that by saying no, you are honoring your priorities and focusing on what matters to you. You can’t please everyone and saying no is necessary for your own well-being.

Review Your Commitments Regularly:

Regularly review your existing commitments and assess whether they still align with what you want and value. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or stretched too thin, consider letting go of some commitments to create space for new opportunities or activities.

Effective time management is a vital skill for neurodiverse people who want to thrive in their personal and professional lives. Effective time management is not about doing more; it's about doing what really matters. Take charge of your time, and watch as you accomplish your goals, reduce stress, and experience success. By implementing the strategies discussed here, you can take control of your time, increase your productivity, and improve your overall well-being.

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