If you’ve created a time management plan and still failed to reach your goals, it’s likely because you’re too flexible and easy on yourself and others when it comes to the schedule. The sorry fact is that time is not limitless. You can’t get more. You can’t work harder to get more of it; it’s a finite resource that cannot be increased or replaced.

When you realize that time is finite and that there really might not be some future distant tomorrow, you might start being more ruthless with the time you’ve got. Follow these tips to make time management so much easier.

  • Just Say No – The biggest factor in being ruthless with your time is learning to say no. If you really do not want to do something, you must say no. There is no sin in saying no. You may feel guilty about the word because children are taught that saying no is wrong, but that was for entirely different reasons than apply now. It’s time to realize that as a grown-up you can, and in many cases should, now say no.
  • Get Up on Time – This is a hard one for many, but it doesn’t have to be hard as you think. If you are a small business owner who works from home, it’s actually pretty easy. You do not need more than seven or eight hours of sleep a night. If you can limit your sleep to no more than eight hours, you will gain time. If you typically sleep less than six you may need to get in a bit more sleep to be most productive with your time.
  • Try to Be Early – If you need to drive places or you have deadlines for work, schedule your time so that you are going to be early. The reason is that this is one of the ways to eliminate urgency from your life, which in turn causes stress and problems with time management. This way if something does happen out of the ordinary, you will still have time to meet a deadline and be on time.
  • Turn Off Technology – The very thing that is supposed to make our time more productive can have the opposite effect too. The notifications of new emails, your Facebook stream, and unscheduled time on Pinterest can get out of hand. Turn it off. You’ll gain so much more time. That includes your TV, too.
  • Understand Your Internal Clock – Everyone has an internal time clock. It’s important to be aware of what it is and not fight against it. Some people are early risers and some people are night owls and others are in between. It’s important for you to determine for yourself what your own internal clock is and then work with it.
  • Make Lists – If you understand each step that goes behind a calendar listing, it will be more beneficial because it’s easier to allocate enough time for each thing when you know exactly what it takes to complete any given task. You won’t be able to accurately determine the time it takes without all the information.
  • Calendar It – Put everything in your calendar including everyday tasks, small steps for a project due in the future, and time with family, friends, and yourself. Don’t skip this step so that when someone asks for your time you can easily schedule them in (or not) based on your availability.
  • Avoid Meetings – Some meetings are important, such as a first client meeting to establish goals and determine tactics, but after that almost everything else can be accomplished through updates in a project management system. There is no real need for weekly meetings for updates or to discuss anything that can easily be put into a memo.
  • Touch It Only Once – Another way to be ruthless with your time is to not allow yourself to wait to do things later. If you get an email that requires a response, do it now. If you check your snail mail and a bill needs to be paid, schedule it now. If you get junk mail, delete it now. Only check your mail when you have time to deal with these issues.

Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself in terms of the hours you schedule yourself to work. Yes, be ruthless about the schedule, but also schedule in fun time. Humans aren’t designed to work 20 hours a day. Go ahead, schedule however many hours a day of work you need, but schedule in breaks in between. Time with friends, family, and spouses during any given work day is important too. Also, remember to schedule in breaks like weekends and vacations. If you do that, it’ll be so much easier to be ruthless with time and stick to your schedule normally.