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Time Management Hacks Every Successful BCBA Should Know

Woman writing to-do list

As BCBA’s, it seems like the amount of tasks we have to complete are endless. From supervision to parent meetings to report writing, and more. Time management is a vital skills for BCBA’s to master in order to be successful, productive, and have a healthy work-life balance. Poor time management can lead to:

  • Ineffective client services

  • Missing deadlines

  • Unethical behavior

  • Decreased job performance

  • Increased burnout

  • Increased stress and anxiety

  • Negative financial effects

  • Problematic relationships/social life

So how do we stay on top of everything we have to get done? Planning and organizing your tasks is the first step to managing your life. I’m going to cover several methods for tackling your to-do list but there are a few things you need to do before getting started:

  1. Brain dump all upcoming tasks you can think of into a master list

  2. Break big projects into the smallest possible steps

  3. Include everything, work tasks AND personal tasks

  4. Put everything on this list, even if it’s not very important right now

  5. Now sort out the things you’d like to get done this month

  6. From that monthly list, create a daily or weekly to-do list

Once you have your working list, you can use one of the methods below, or a combination of methods, to tackle it.


Eat the Frog

Yep, this method is really called “Eat the Frog”, based on a phrase quoted by Mark Twain that said “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” I’ve actually had frog at a Cajun restaurant and it was pretty good, but the idea behind this method is to get the worst or hardest things done first before anything else.


  • Sort your list from hardest to easiest or least preferred to most preferred

  • Start with the hardest or least preferred tasks and complete them first thing in the day

  • You’ll have more energy and focus

  • You’ll get the worst things done first so the rest of the day will be easier

Good for: People who procrastinate, avoid non-preferred tasks or put off important items.


Time Blocking

Time blocking is a productivity method that helps you get more done in the day by keeping you on a schedule of structured tasks. It will minimize distractions and help your to-do list seem more management by giving each task a place in your schedule.


  • Split your day into blocks of time with specific tasks assigned to each one

  • Assign durations to each task on your to-do list, be as accurate as possible

  • Fill in the blocks in your calendar with these tasks based on time

  • Websites like do this for you by creating a time block schedule with your to-do list

Good for: People who find small tasks and interruptions taking over the whole day.



This method uses alternating “sprints” to get through your to-do list. It helps you maintain focus by breaking your work into short bursts and helps big projects seem less intimidating. It also adds a gamification layer to your to-do list by adding goals to how many sprints you will get done and making sure you stay on task through each burst.


  • Choose a task to work on, then set a timer and work for 25 minutes on that one task

  • Follow that sprint with a 5-minute break

  • After completing 4 sprints, take a longer break of 30 minutes.

  • You can adjust the timing to whatever works best for you.

Good for: People who need to get things completed but have a tendency to get distracted.



Using the Kanban method for your to-do list is great for those who like to have a constant visual representation of their progress and what they have left to do. It helps visualize all of your progress and gives you a physical reminder when you need to concentrate on finishing your current projects before starting new ones.


  • Get a whiteboard or post-its and split your projects into 3 columns

    • To Do

    • Doing

    • Done

  • Use color coding to differentiate different projects or categories

Good for: People who have a tendency to start a lot of projects but finish very few of them.


Eisenhower Matrix

This is one of my favorite go-to methods for managing my productivity because I tend to focus on tasks that I enjoy the most and avoid the others, regardless of their importance. With this method, it can help you identify which tasks are priorities and which are just distractions. The matrix gives you a great visual if you use the grid, but you could also do this in list format to easily keep it on your phone.


  • Create a grid of 4 boxes with one axis for urgency and the other for importance (I do a variation of this with importance and enjoyment, so feel free to vary them)

  • This should leave you with 4 boxes:

    • Urgent/Important

    • Less Urgent/Important

    • Urgent/Less Important

    • Less Urgent/ Less Important

  • Now sort your to-do list into these categories and complete in this order

    • Urgent/Important tasks should be completed immediately

    • Less Urgent/Important tasks can be decided on after the first box

    • Urgent/Less Important tasks can be delegated to someone else

    • Less Urgent/Less Important tasks can be done later

Good for: People who like graphs and would rather prioritize on a continuum than put tasks into a few categories.


These are just a few of my favorite methods for tackling your to-do list, but there are many more out there. Try them out and find out which one works best for you or try a combination of strategies.

If you want to be extra productive, check out our BCBA Planner: Professional Edition. It was made by a BCBA for BCBA’s and includes all the normal calendar stuff, plus habit tracking, client monthly summary sheets, tech monthly summary sheets, quick tech evals, and authorization trackers. Even if you use digital tools, having a physical method of tracking your personal and work life is invaluable!

And if you want an intensive 5-day challenge to level up your time management skills, check out our 5-Day Challenge: Successful Time Management!

BCBA Planners



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