Jun. 28. 2019
McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

How can I use time management skills to help me lead a healthy lifestyle?

When most of us think about health, we often think of the facts — what vitamins do I need? How much protein should I be eating? For most questions of this nature, we can simply research the answers or seek out individual advice from a professional.

But what happens once we have the facts? For most, putting these facts into practice is undoubtedly the hardest part. When it comes to behavior change and leading a healthy lifestyle, developing effective time management skills may just be the key to your success.

Time Management Skills For Health

Time management is the process of utilizing your time throughout the day in an organized manner to allow for maximum productivity.

There are only 24 hours in a day, and sometimes when we’re juggling work, relationships, kids, social lives, healthy eating, self-care and everything else — 24 just doesn’t seem like enough. Good time management skills are what will keep you on top of your health game without feeling uncontrollably overwhelmed or stressed.

So how should you manage your time effectively to keep your health in check? Let’s talk through my top time management skills for leading a healthy lifestyle.

1. Start A To-Do List

This is step one, the bare minimum — create a to-do list for yourself. The key is writing down everything you would like to get done. Record it in the notes section of your phone, an app, your journal or your daily planner, wherever works best for you!

Our chances of forgetting something are so much higher when we keep everything in the form of thoughts. As soon as you write something down you create a tangible representation of the task — your mind no longer has to work to store that information. When we constantly rely on our memory to keep all of our tasks and thoughts in line, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed, stressed and unfortunately forgetful.

Recording information also forces you to actually think about the task and mentally process it. Let’s take grocery shopping for example. When you write down “grocery shop” on your to-do list, your brain automatically kicks into gear and pictures grocery shopping, you may even think about where you want to go or when; therefore increasing your chances of actually completing said task.

With all that said, recent research has shown that 41% of to-do items are never completed and only 50% of to-do items are completed in a day (1). So how do we switch up our lists so we’re actually completing them daily? Keep reading!

2. Prioritize Your List

So you sat down and recorded all of the things you wanted to accomplish, now what?

Having the list is step one, prioritizing the tasks on that list is step two. Take a look at everything you’ve written down and asked yourself — what do I really need to accomplish first?

Whenever we make a to-do list there is always a purpose, a reason for why we want to complete all of the tasks listed. Prioritize the items on your list in a way that will help you to complete them in a logical, timely manner.

Prioritization is key. Without it, your list will most likely be unproductive and unorganized. The purpose of the list is to allow you to manage your time in the best way possible, start with priority number one and work your way down.

3. Take It Day By Day

Now we have a prioritized to-do list telling us step-by-step what we need to do, great!

But it’s three pages long and you only have four hours left to finish it, not so great.

Organize your tasks by day in a realistic way. Even if your list is prioritized accordingly if you’re constantly leaving it unfinished your chances of feeling discouraged and calling it quits are pretty high.

Instead of having one huge list, take it day by day. Use a planner or a calendar on your computer! What needs to be done first thing Monday morning? What can wait until Wednesday? Prioritize your tasks in accordance with your schedule. That way, you’re managing your time efficiently and completing tasks daily without becoming overwhelmed and deflated.

This is particularly important when you’re making changes or adjustments to your usual routine. We so often find ourselves in auto-pilot, going about our daily activities without really having to think about what it is that we are doing.

When you want to add a new task to that daily routine, auto-pilot just won’t cut it. By including those new tasks in your daily list — be it to meal prep on a Sunday or add a run in on Monday morning — you’re reminded that these new tasks are important for your healthy lifestyle and must be completed.

4. Leave Some Room For Error

If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s something unexpected popping up. No matter how organized or prepared you may be, there are some things we just can’t control. If you start your day off anticipating that something unexpected may occur, you may just come out of your day having still accomplished everything you sought out to do!

Leave a little space in your schedule – thirty minutes, an hour, whatever you can manage. This space will cushion the unexpected occurrences and last minute tasks that you didn’t plan for.

5. Ask For Help

As hard as we may try, we really just can’t do everything.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a nutrition newbie, utilizing your resources is one of the best ways to manage your time for a healthy lifestyle. Resources can be a roommate you share food with, a significant other, friend or family member; it may even be an app!

Learn to utilize the tools around you and delegate tasks that you just don’t have time for. If you have an unusually busy week coming up and don’t think you’ll get to the grocery store, call in a favor with someone you live with or use an app to have them delivered. There are so many ways for you to delegate tasks efficiently so your health doesn’t go out the window whenever you get busy.

6. Learn How To Say No

Once again, we can’t do everything, it’s just not possible. Sometimes that simply means we have to say no.

If you’ve reached the point where there is so much on your plate that you barely have room to take a deep breath — this is for you. We all, of course, have things we need to do but don’t necessarily want to do, it’s somewhat unavoidable. But often times there are so many things we say yes to that we don’t have to do.

Before saying yes, think about you. Consider your priorities, what serves you and your healthy lifestyle – how do you feel now and how will you feel after agreeing to give your time and energy?

Learning to say no when you need to can make all the difference in your time management. You’ll be able to spend the majority of your time doing things you really need or want to do.

7. Set Goals

In order to manage your time effectively for a healthy lifestyle, you need to know what you’re working towards. Setting goals allows you to feel a sense of purpose. Every small task that you complete gets you one step closer!

You can set goals daily, weekly, or even monthly. However, you work best! Make sure your goals are realistic and specific. Really think about what it will take to get you where you want to go, then think about how long it will take you to get there.

Don’t forget to write your goals down. Record the goals you are working towards and be sure to display them somewhere you can frequently see them. You want to be reminded of what you are working towards and why all the little steps really matter.

Put It Into Practice

Take baby steps! If you’re new to time management skills and organization altogether, start small and build your way up.

Building habits takes time. When we try a bunch of new things at once on day one, sometimes that leads to a big crash and burn on day two.

Slowly but surely implement some new routines into your daily life. Before you know it they’ll be habits and you won’t even have to think about them. If you want a little more information on how to make positive habits for a healthy lifestyle stick, check out our article on that here.


I would love to hear about the time management skills you use to lead a healthy lifestyle. Is there anything I mentioned that you’re already doing? Is there something you’re doing that I didn’t talk about?

The more tips we can compile, the better! I’m sure someone else reading this article would love to hear what works for you. As always, you can connect with us on Instagram via @nutritionstrippederica, @nutritionstripped, #nutritionstripped and #nswellnesscoaching.