“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

–Benjamin Franklin

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

1. Identify what must be included when planning tasks.
2. Define the categories of priorities.
3. Describe the best practices for blocking off time to complete tasks.
4. Explain why having mandatory downtime is important.
5. Identify the benefits of rewarding yourself.
6. Explain coping options if you feel overwhelmed.
7. Brainstorm areas you can improve your time management skills.
8. Create a plan for incorporating time management best practices.

The task below will be automatically checked off once you complete taking the quiz.


Now that you’re familiar with the basics of time management including obstacles, consequences, and benefits, let’s move on to practical time management best practices.



Plan your tasks with the association’s goals in mind. Be sure to consider interruptions that may occur throughout the day. Set reasonable expectations for yourself and let the board, team, and members know your intentions for responding to emails and requests.


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Identifying priorities will help you have a clear picture of the tasks that need to be completed and when.

Prioritize the most important tasks to be done when you are the most productive.

For some, that’s first thing in the morning, but not for everyone. Identify your most productive time of day, and adjust your schedule to it. Leave smaller, less important tasks for when you know you’re more at risk for distractions.

When assigning priorities (which we’ll define later), consider the following factors:

  • when each task must be done
  • how long it might take
  • how important it might be to others in the organization
  • what could happen if the task is not done or might be interrupted by barriers in the process

When you’re starting to plan around your priorities, start with two lists:

  1. Make a “Working To-Do List” of highest priority tasks.
  2. Make a “Planning List” of long-term projects that can be addressed when you have downtime or moved to your working list.


Priority Categories

In the book “First Things First,” author Stephen Covey suggests creating an organizational to-do list based on how important and urgent tasks are. Use the following categories to group your tasks. How you group the tasks determine the priorities for your day.

Quadrant 1: Important and Urgent

  • Vital tasks that need completing as soon as possible

Quadrant 2: Important but Not Urgent

  • Tasks appearing to be important but upon closer analysis are not urgent, so you can complete them as time allows

Quadrant 3: Urgent but Not Important

  • Tasks that seem to need to be addressed as soon as possible, but when they are completed they have little to no impact on the association; when possible, delegate these tasks

Quadrant 4: Not Urgent and Not Important

  • Tasks that are low-priority and provide the opportunity to look busy, not productive; complete them later or eliminate them altogether if they don’t truly add value and align with the association’s goals

Your turn

List three or four “Important and Urgent” tasks that need to be addressed today. Check them off your list as you complete them. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that will motivate you to complete the less essential tasks, too.


After you plan and prioritize your tasks, begin assigning blocks of time to each task that needs to be completed that day. Scheduling the tasks helps you to be more focused, efficient and motivated.

Customize the blocks of time for each task (not every task is going to require the same amount of time to complete). Determine the time you have, and then work backward.

Keep your schedule in sight so you have a visual reminder of what you must be working on and what’s coming up. This can create a healthy urgency to work efficiently.

Tips for Completing Your Schedule

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Distraction-Free Zone

When the block of time to focus on a specific task begins, turn off ALL notifications on ALL devices including email, social media, text messages, and all apps. In the beginning, turning off all notifications may feel uncomfortable, but it will eventually feel liberating.


Do you rarely take 5- or 10-minute breaks? Do you usually find yourself eating lunch at your desk, while answering emails, editing marketing materials or planning a board meeting? Do you sometimes skip lunch altogether?

If so, you’re hindering your creativity and problem-solving skills related to your mission.


You are busy leaders of causes that make the world a better place and improve people’s lives. Practicing healthy self-care is essential to make the most of your association’s opportunities.


Reward Yourself

Rewarding yourself when you finish a task helps maintain levels of motivation.

Do something you know will recharge your energy. Some ideas include taking a brief nap, going for a short walk or meditating. If you have been working only at your computer, choose an interactive physical activity such as taking a walk-and-talk meeting with a colleague. Making sure to maintain a social life outside of work is also important.

Manage Overwhelm

Use the following techniques to avoid stress and burnout, and to help manage the feeling of being overwhelmed.

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Now that you have ideas of how you can better manage your time, create a plan for incorporating time management best practices into your routine. Start small if implementing multiple practices seems overwhelming, but nonetheless START!

Additional Tools

Download the time management implementation planning worksheet. When the worksheet opens in a new window, click the time frame box to choose the time frame for when you plan on implementing the strategy. Save and download or print.


See if you understand the concepts by completing the quiz. Click Time Management Best Practices Quiz to begin.

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