Time management is the procedure followed in order to organize and plan your time based on the activities that are either important, unimportant, urgent, or not urgent.
What Is Time Management?
Time management refers to the process through which an individual organizes and plans how long they wish to spend on a particular task. It involves the ability to use one’s time productively and efficiently. Developing time management skills is an essential aspect in order to ensure that you have enough time to do all the tasks that are assigned to you. A person with good time management skills is excellent at prioritizing tasks and getting things done on time. Effective time management can not only help to complete your tasks efficiently but also help you get an adequate amount of sleep. A 2017 study 1 states “Time management means to optimally use the time available and that includes aspects of planning, goal setting, prioritizing goals and activities, communications and delegation.”
In order to manage your time efficiently, it is essential to lay out clear goals and priorities. This also includes setting aside all the unimportant tasks that chip your time away and monitoring your time spent on different tasks.
Poor time management can have a lot of drawbacks. They can include:
- Missed deadlines
- Inadequate work
- Poor work quality
- High-stress levels
- Inefficient workflow
This can be due to procrastination, attention, or issues with self-control. It is not helpful to cut out sleep and try to add hours into each day. This will only cause harm to your health and well-being. A Gallup Poll 2 displayed that nearly half of Americans just don’t have enough time in the day to do what they want in their lives. According to a survey 3 , almost 73% of Americans do not get enough sleep, out of which 37% blame wasted time on social media. Another 2013 survey 4 found that 63% of professionals who identified themselves as lacking time management skills suffered from sleep apnea and blood pressure problems, among other health issues. A 2009 study 5 pointed out that realistic time management and organizational plans can improve productivity and quality of life.
Advantages Of Time Management
It is important to make use of your time productively. There are several advantages of time management. They include:
- Increased productivity and efficiency
- Improved professional reputation
- Decreased stress and anxiety
- Increased opportunities for advancement
- Achieving important life and career goals
- Stability in life
- Increased free time
- Increased satisfaction from life
Tips To Excel At Time Management
Maintaining a balance in life is key to leading a great life. If an individual learns to manage their time effectively, they are more likely to feel less stressed. Hence, it is essential to follow a system that will help you to get things done. Here are some tips to excel at time management:
1. Manage a Time Diary
Maintain a time diary and jot down all the things you do during a week. This includes exercising, eating, driving, weekly meetings, and all the other things too. Be honest with yourself and write it all down. Even if you watch 25 hours of TV each week, write that down. It may be upsetting to see how unproductive we are but keeping a time diary will ensure that you use your time wisely.
2. Set targeted goals
It is important to set targeted goals in order to achieve them. If you don’t set your goals the right way, then you will not be able to properly achieve them. It may be helpful to use the SMART goal setting method to get things done on time. SMART goals are short for specific, meaningful, achievable, relevant, and time-based. By following this method, it is possible to manage your time efficiently.
3. Keep a track of the time spent on different tasks
Keep a track of the time spent on daily chores for seven days straight. Once you have that handy, audit it accordingly by assigning a specific amount of time for a particular task. Reassess whether you are spending time fruitfully or if you are spending too much time on it.
4. Handle your most important tasks in the morning
The most important tasks should always be scheduled in the morning. Accomplish those tasks before moving on to less important tasks. Set out the top 3 most important tasks each day and attempt to accomplish them. Instead of focusing on too many tasks that make you feel like you haven’t done anything at all, focus on accomplishing the 3 tasks you set out the day before.
5. Avoid distractions
One of the most excellent ways to manage your time properly is to avoid distractions. Whether it’s binge-watching Netflix or scrolling through your Instagram, removing distractions will help you to fruitfully use your precious time. Using your time wisely and avoiding distractions will allow you to focus on the bigger goals in life.
6. Take frequent breaks while working
According to a recent review 6 , an individual should work for 52 minutes and take a break for 17 minutes. This allows them to keep their mental, emotional, and physical peak levels in check. It also helps in stress management.
7. Meditate or exercise
It is important to clear your mind before starting to work on important tasks. This will allow you to better manage your time. Meditation or exercising is a great way to clear your mind and increase your focus.
Read more to know about : 10 Helpful Time Management Tips
Techniques Of Time Management
This process requires you to employ different techniques and strategies to use your time efficiently. Some of the techniques that are used are as follows:
1. ABCD Analysis
Business leaders often use these techniques to manage their time efficiently. In this method, large data are categorized into groups. These groups are often marked in A, B, C, and D. Different activities are ranked by these general criteria:
- A: Tasks that are urgent and important
- B: Tasks that are important but not as urgent
- C: Tasks that are unimportant but urgent
- D: Tasks that are unimportant and not urgent
Each group is categorized according to its priority. In order to further refine the prioritization process, some people choose to force rank B items to A or C. It is known as ABC analysis.
2. Pareto Analysis
The Pareto principle suggests that 80% of tasks can be completed in 20% of the given time. However, the remaining 20% of tasks will take 80% of the time to complete. According to this analysis, it is advisable that tasks that fall in the highest priority be assigned in the first category. This principle is often applied to increase productivity. It is assumed that 80% of productivity can be achieved by 20% of the tasks and vice versa. In case productivity is the aim of time management, then high priority tasks should be assigned in the first category.
3. The Eisenhower Method
Dwight D Eisenhower said “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important and the important are never urgent.” The technique is known as the Eisenhower method. Tasks are assessed using the criteria important/unimportant and urgent/ not urgent of the Eisenhower principle. These are then placed in the quadrants of the Eisenhower matrix. The tasks in different quadrants are accomplished as follows:
- Important/ urgent quadrant tasks are done immediately and personally such as crises, deadlines, problems
- Important/not urgent quadrant tasks have a due date and are done personally such as relationships or recreational activities
- Unimportant/urgent quadrant tasks are usually delegated e.g meetings and other activities
- Unimportant/ not urgent quadrant tasks are dropped e.g time wasters
4. POSEC method
POSEC is an acronym for “Prioritise by Organising, Streamlining, Economizing and Contributing.” This method is based on the average individual’s immediate sense of emotional and monetary security. It points out that by attending to one’s personal responsibilities, the individual is better equipped to attend to collective responsibilities. This acronym can be defined as the following:
- P: Prioritize your time and set your life according to goals
- O: Organize all the things that you wish to accomplish daily in order to be successful (family and finances)
- S: Streamline the tasks you don’t like to do, but you must do (work and chores)
- E: Economize things you should do but they are not as urgent (pastimes and socializing)
- C: Contribute by being attentive to the things that make a difference (social obligations)
Read more to know about : Techniques of time management
Mastering Time Management
By setting goals and prioritizing them it is possible to efficiently manage your time. Breaking down tasks into smaller doable tasks can help. Learning about time management can allow you to complete important tasks within the set time period.
- Ghiasvand, A. M., Naderi, M., Tafreshi, M. Z., Ahmadi, F., & Hosseini, M. (2017). Relationship between time management skills and anxiety and academic motivation of nursing students in Tehran. Electronic physician, 9(1), 3678–3684. https://doi.org/10.19082/3678
- Gallup. (2015). Americans’ perceived time crunch no worse than in past. Gallup.com. https://news.gallup.com/poll/187982/americans-perceived-time-crunch-no-worse-past.aspx
- CDC press releases. (2019). CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0215-enough-sleep.html
- Time management statistics. (n.d.). Time Management Training and Productivity Consulting. https://www.keyorganization.com/time-management-statistics.php
- Jackson VP. Time management: a realistic approach. J Am Coll Radiol. 2009 Jun;6(6):434-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jacr.2008.11.018. PMID: 19467489.
- Thompson, D. (2014). A formula for perfect productivity: Work for 52 minutes, break for 17. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/09/science-tells-you-how-many-minutes-should-you-take-a-break-for-work-17/380369/