Sometimes we think of time management in very rigid terms. Focusing on the way we schedule out time, to do lists and all manner of planning instead of focusing on the concept of time itself. Time management isn’t only about planning and discipline and these 5 TED will change your perspective on time management:

5 TED Talks That Will Change Your Perspective on Time Management

1. How to gain control of your free time

In her talk, Laura Vanderkam says that it’s not that we’re truly that busy but we don’t prioritize our time the way we should. Since we can’t create more time, Vanderkam says that time is highly elastic and it will stretch to accommodate what we choose.

To spend your time well, Laura recommends you look at the way you spend it. She began her process by asking women to document how they spend their time in a given week. Once you have an idea of how you’re using your time, that’s when you can make time to see where you can put the good stuff.

She defines the good stuff as the goals and priorities you would like to achieve. Instead of doing a year end review, jump ahead a year and decide what you would like to achieve and work backwards. This is a great idea. We often focus on where we’ve been instead of where we are going if you watch this TED talk, Laura Vanderkam gives you a great way to focus on the way you use and manage your time in the future instead of the past.

2. All it takes is 10 mindful minutes

Mindfulness is everywhere these days. From CEO’s participating in meditation and offering it to their employees to the benefits of dog meditation. Andy Puddicombe’s argument, and rightfully so, is that we’re so distracted from the present. We all know the stressful feeling of having a ton to balance that we may not be able to complete everything on our lists.

Andy says that meditation gave him a better understanding of the present moment. You don’t need to take a far off retreat, all it takes is 10 minutes a day to step back and familiarize yourself with the present. When you’re taking a break, instead of scrolling on Instagram for 10 minutes take 10 minutes to focus on the present without distractions.

If you don’t know where to start, Andy and his team created Headspace for this very reason. There are also lots of other apps in the app stores such as Calm, Insight Timer and The Breathing App.

3. Forget multitasking, try monotasking

Recently, literature around multitasking has come under fire as neuroscientists discover that multitasking as we’ve come to think of it, is actually a myth. In this super short (under 3 minute) TED talk, designer Paolo Cardini takes a design approach to monotasking.

The video asking you  to focus on this one element for only a brief moment of time. Paolo emphasizes how to monotask within the digital realm, showing off some of the designs he’s created to encourage monotasking.

It’s not difficult to envision how the concept of monotasking can be spread to other areas of our lives. The premise is simple: instead of spending time trying to do multiple things at once focus on just one. Despite all the articles posted online about how the best and most productive people multitask, science shows it’s just plain disruptive. It seems the best way to work is to stay focused on just one thing, monotask.

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4. The power of time off

Another great designer, Stefan Sagmeister, concentrates on why taking time off is a great way to be more productive and reignite your creativity. Every seven years, Sagmeister closes his firm and takes a year long sabbatical to conduct what he calls “experiments.”

During that time, he is completely disconnected from all clients and all matters relating to work. Sagmeister devised a simple system to make sure that he actually took the sabbatical. He put it into his planner and then told people so he wouldn’t “chicken out.” When you tell others that you’re not communicating because you’re focusing, it shows you’re working on something important.

If you’d rather not message every single person, you can just silence your devices/put them on Do Not Disturb. If you’d like to automate the whole process, tools like Boomerang have an Inbox Pause function that pauses all incoming emails and lets people know what’s going on.

5. How boredom can lead to your most brilliant ideas

For Stefan Sagmeister being disconnected and bored helped spark his creativity. WNYC podcast host Manoush Zomorodi had her listeners log the amount of time they use their smartphone and number of times they pickup their phone. They then had to do a series of challenges throughout the week to lessen their dependence on their phones. Manoush wanted her listeners to reclaim the cracks in their day to jumpstart their creativity.

According to neuroscientists, the reason that your brain comes up with its best ideas during the boring moments is because your brain forms new neural connections that connect ideas and solve problems. In a nutshell, being bored gives you the time to find new solutions to challenging problems. Manoush recommends that you don’t use your phone to distract yourself from the hard work that comes with boredom.


Time management is one of the most wanted but one of the most elusive skills to master. All these speakers address a key underlying issue: we all have more time than we think we do. It’s about how we choose to use that time that matters.

So next time you’re about to start scrolling through Instagram during a break, take that time to do some deep breathing exercises that are both good for your mind and body. Or you can even decide to do nothing at all, yes, nothing. A much more difficult ask but one that may have surprising results.

Let me know in the comments what you think about these approaches to time management. What are best ways you’ve found to keep yourself productive and on track?