Let me respectfully remind you, Life and death are of supreme importance Time passes swiftly by and opportunity is lost Each of us should strive to awaken…Awaken Take heed, do not squander your life – Buddhist saying
Time management is the process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities - especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity.
Time Management Definition
“Time management” is the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between specific activities. Good time management enables you to work smarter – not harder – so that you get more done in less time, even when time is tight and pressures are high. Failing to manage your time damages your effectiveness and causes stress. It seems that there is never enough time in the day. But, since we all get the same 24 hours, why is it that some people achieve so much more with their time than others? The answer lies in good time management.
The highest achievers manage their time exceptionally well. By using the time-management techniques in this section, you can improve your ability to function more effectively – even when time is tight and pressures are high.
Good time management requires an important shift in focus from activities to results: being busy isn’t the same as being effective. (Ironically, the opposite is often closer to the truth.)
Spending your day in a frenzy of activity often achieves less, because you’re dividing your attention between so many different tasks. Good time management lets you work smarter – not harder – so you get more done in less time.
What Is “Time Management?”
“Time management” refers to the way that you organize and plan how long you spend on specific activities. It may seem counter-intuitive to dedicate precious time to learning about time management, instead of using it to get on with your work, but the benefits are enormous:
Greater productivity and efficiency.
A better professional reputation.
Increased opportunities for advancement.
Greater opportunities to achieve important life and career goals.
Failing to manage your time effectively can have some very undesirable consequences:
Inefficient work flow.
Poor work quality.
A poor professional reputation and a stalled career.
Higher stress levels.
Spending a little time learning about time-management techniques will have huge benefits now – and throughout your career.
Key Points Time management is the process of organizing and planning how much time you spend on specific activities. Invest some time in our comprehensive collection of time management articles to learn about managing your own time more efficiently, and save yourself time in the future.
17 Essential time management skills
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Even those with strong time management skills realise that there is always room for improvement. Becoming productive with your time is all about seeking to make constant and never ending improvements to the way that you perform your work. Thankfully, there are many time management skills which you can improve to help you get better results. One of the biggest mistakes made by those who struggle with their time management is thinking that time management skills are entirely behavioural e.g. you set a goal and you work on it. However, the truth is that many of the most important time management skills are entirely cognitive i.e. they are thinking processes.
17 time management skills which play a critical role in determining your productivity levels. Some of these time management skills overlap and, in many cases, mastering one skill will greatly improve your performance in another. However, it is important that you understand each skill and the role it plays in your time management.
1. Goal Setting. Time management is not a standalone skill. You cannot manage time but you probably already know that. You can only manage how you use your time and how you use your time should be driven by effective goal-setting. The most fundamental of time management skills is the ability to use your time in a manner which serves your goals. When making decisions about what to focus your time on, you should always be cognisant of your goals and how each action is aimed at bringing you closer to achieving those goals.
2. Prioritisation. The biggest reason that most people struggle with prioritisation is that they start too late in the process. They attempt to prioritise the items that are on their task list. However, if you look closely at most task lists, you will find that they contain items which never should have made it on to the task list in the first place. As strange as it may sound, prioritising should not begin with a focus on getting more work done. Prioritisation should always begin with avoiding/eliminating the tasks which you should not be performing. Once this has been done, you can switch your focus to completing the most valuable work you can with the time and resources available to you. Prioritisation is one of the most misunderstood and misused of the time management skills. When you get it right, you will find that your time management improves rapidly.
3. Self-awareness. No two people like to work the same way. We all have our own preferences for how we like to work e.g. some people work best in the mornings while others prefer to work late. We are motivated by different things and like to work in our own way. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, it is quite healthy. It just means that you need to have a good understanding of your own likes, dislikes and needs. When you have a high level of self-awareness, you are able to take the very best time management advice and tailor it to fit your own style.
4. Self-motivation. You will have days where you do not want to do anything. You may be sick, tired, bored or simply lacking motivation. On days like this, there is little that anyone else can do to get you going. You need to be able to motivate yourself to take action, even though you’d rather not. If you have improved your self-awareness, you will have a great deal of the information that you need to motivate yourself. You could have all the other time management skills but if you lack the ability to motivate yourself, you will soon experience large amounts of pressure and stress.
5. Focus. Regardless of what you are trying to do, there will always be something else competing for your attention. It’s not easy to shut everything out and focus on the task at hand. Focus is one of those time management skills where you don’t realise how important it is until you struggle with it. It is important to remember that no matter how many tasks need to be done, you can only work on one task in any given moment. The myth of multi-tasking causes many problems for those who wish to improve their time management but if you want to get results, you must learn to focus on one task at a time and block out all distractions.
6. Decision making. It would be nice to think that you could just sit down and do your work without having to put any serious thought into it. Alas, there are few jobs that fit that description. You will have to make important decisions e.g.:
• Which task to do • Which tasks do not get done • When a task is completed • Which meetings to attend • Who you can or cannot help, etc.
If your decisions only affected you, it wouldn’t be such a big deal but few tasks are performed in isolation. Almost every task has a knock on effect on another person, or task, which means that every decision that you make has consequences both for you and for others. Decision making is one those time management skills which if you are not good at it, you will notice the negative impacts in every area of your life. It is imperative that you are able to consider the consequences and make effective, clear decisions.
7. Planning. As mentioned earlier, tasks will overlap and be dependent on each other. There will often be times when one task cannot be started until another task is finished. Your schedule will also be impacted by the schedules of others. These factors need to be considered at the beginning of each project and, monitored throughout. Failure to do so can lead to delays and missed deadlines. Planning is one of the essential time management skills because it allows you to foresee all of the tasks which will be required to complete a project and, how they will best fit together. A well made plan will save you a great deal of time.
8. Communication Skills. You will have to work with others on a daily basis. It is unlikely that you will perform every aspect of your work so you will need to enlist the help of others. Strong communication skills will enable you to build supportive relationships with those whom you work with. You will be able to work better together and achieve more than you ever could apart.
When you require another person to do some work for you; you will want to communicate in a manner which will enable them to perform the work to the desired standard, in the fastest time. Should any errors occur, you will want to raise the issue quickly and explain clearly about the adjustments that need to be made. In these situations, the quality of your communication directly impacts the quality of the work that gets done.
9. Questioning and challenging. If you want to work to the highest standard, you must be willing to challenge anything and everything which does not meet your standards. This begins when somebody attempts to assign a task to you. If you do not think that you should be the person to perform the task; you must raise the issue and challenge the person that is assigning you the task. When you begin to do this, you will often see a decrease in the amount of work which gets delegated to you. Quite often, people delegate work to you because it is convenient; not because it is the correct course of action. If you want to improve your time management skills; this must become a thing of the past. As mentioned earlier, eliminating work that you should not be doing is the beginning of prioritisation. Questioning and challenging are essential skills to help you achieve this. Questioning and challenging are also essential when you are being assigned work that you should be doing. Never accept a task until you are clear about what is expected e.g.
• What is to be done • When it is to be completed by • How much is required • The manner in which the work is to be performed • Any other details which impact on your ability to complete the work
If you have any objections, you should raise them before giving your firm agreement. Taking the time to achieve clarity at the beginning will save you far more time in the long-run.
10. Delegation/outsourcing. Just as others will want to delegate work to you; there will be times when you want to delegate work to others. You will want to ensure that all the important work gets completed but that does not mean that you have to be the person to complete it. One of the greatest time management skills is knowing when you are not the right person to perform the task. If the task is more suited to somebody else’s skill set; you should consider delegating the task. Of course, when delegating, it is important that you provide all of the necessary information and ensure that the person who will perform the task is clear about what is expected of them.
11. Coping Skills. Things will go wrong from time to time. You can be certain of that. When things do go wrong, you can sit around wallowing in despair or you can review the situation, identify the correct course of action and implement that action. Time management is not just a behavioural skill. It is cognitive too. Your thinking and mindset play a massive role in determining your results. Knowing how to cope with setbacks will help you bounce back quickly and reduce the amount of time lost when things go wrong.
12. Stress Management. With work comes pressure. Pressure in itself is usually a good thing. It motivates you to take action and to do a good job. However, once you begin to feel that you can no longer cope with the demands placed upon you, you begin to move from pressure to experiencing stress. Stress is not a good thing. People often speak of good stress but that is just an inappropriate way of labeling pressure. When you experience stress, your body and mind begin to suffer. Large arrays of mental and physical problems have been linked to prolonged exposure to stress. Before you get to that stage, stress begins to have a negative impact on your performance and your time management. If you experience stress, you will have so many things on your mind that you will find it practically impossible to focus on the task at hand. As a result, it will take you longer to perform even the simplest of tasks. A backlog will start to build up as you fall behind which in turn increases your stress levels and so the spiral continues. Time management skills and stress management skills are intertwined. They also have one major thing in common – they allow you to understand that it is better to prevent the problem occurring than having to deal with it once it does occur. If you want to improve your time management skills, make proactive stress management a ritual in your life.
13. Working effectively with others. I have already highlighted the importance of communicating with others in maximising your time management. Working effectively with others is often the quickest way to get a job done properly. This is about more than just communication and delegation. It is important to understand how others like to work; their goals and expectations. As you get to know people better, you build positive relationships where you can work together for the benefit of all concerned.
14. Record Keeping. When you are on top of everything and you know exactly what is going on; you can make effective decisions and provide information quicker. Regardless of your subject area, accurate information is essential. You do not have to know everything off the top of your head but you would be surprised at how much time you can save when you know where to find the necessary information at the moment you need it. You must determine what information you need to have and put systems in place to ensure that it is collected and stored.
15. Organisation and filing. This is an extension of record keeping. I used to laugh at the amount of effort that my first boss used to put into his filing system. His desk was spotless, as opposed to mine – I couldn’t even see what colour my desk was. Whenever I asked him for something, he was able to reach his hand out and grab it in a matter of seconds. When he asked me for something, I would practically tear my desk apart trying to find it. It does take some time to set up a proper filing system but once it is set up, you save large chunks of time because you can store and retrieve information without having to think about. And, that is the ultimate benefit of organisation – you only have to think about anything once. Everything has a place and, unless you are using it, you will be able to find what you are looking for in that place.
16. Patience. Many people think that time management skills are all about getting more work done. That is not the case. Time management skills are about ensuring that you get the important work done. You could try to focus on getting more done but you end up rushing things and making mistakes. By the time you have rectified the mistakes (if it is possible to do so) you will have spent more time than if you’d taken your time and done the job properly. Patience isn’t just a virtue; it is a skill. It is something which you have to practice. The very best time managers do not rush things. They have patience and take precisely the amount of time required to do the job properly.
17. Forgiveness. Like patience, forgiveness is actually a skill. It is not something which magically happens; it is something which you must choose to do. As you try to improve your time management skills and become more effective, you will make mistakes. Others will also let you down from time to time; though rarely intentionally. It is easy to become irate when these things happen but if you do, you will find that you become too emotional to focus on your work. In the end, you compound the mistake by reducing your effectiveness further due to your own frustration. When things go wrong, give the people the benefit of the doubt. People rarely get things wrong on purpose. Whether it was you or somebody else who made the mistake, choose to forgive. Accept that it was a genuine mistake, and then focus on identifying the corrective action that you need to take. This way, you will maintain your self-esteem, improve your relationships and reduce the amount of time wasted following the mistake.
If you want to get the best results possible from your life; time management skills are essential. As you improve your time management skills, you will find that you get more valuable work completed in less time. It is not about increasing the quantity of work that you complete. It is all about ensuring that you complete your most important tasks which will enable you to achieve your goals quicker and with less stress. There are many different time management skills and the list above is by no means exhaustive. If you take one time management skill at a time and work to improve it, you will find that it has a knock on effect on your entire performance. Why not pick one of these skills today and get started on your journey to high productivity?
6 Tips to Improve Your Time Management Skills
By Donna M. White, LMHC, CACP
When you learn and maintain good time management skills, you’ll find freedom from deadline pressure and from stress in general. You’ll be more productive, procrastinate less, and have more time to relax, which helps further decrease stress and anxiety.
Time management skills are like shoes or a good pair of jeans — you may have to try several pair before you find just the right fit. They’re different for each person and you have to find what works best for you. Below are a few that work for me which you may want to borrow.
Make a list. The thing about making lists is that you actually have to use them. You may want to set reminders on your phone and computer. Lists really do work if you use them. One of the most important things is to make sure your list feels attainable. No one wants a 30-item to-do list and have to, at the end of the day, look at the 20 items that didn’t get done. Prioritize yours and others’ needs and plan accordingly. You might even want to make three lists — personal, home and work.
Set deadlines. Again, there is no point in setting deadlines if you make executive decisions to always push them back. Set a deadline and try your best to stick to it. Set your deadline a few days before the task absolutely has to be done. This allows for the possibility that other things will get in the way, but also allow for you still to get the task done.
Stop multi-tasking. Multitaskers often seem to think they get more accomplished, but it’s not always the most productive or efficient route. Let’s face it, our minds work better when we are truly able to focus and concentrate on one thing.
Delegate responsibilities. For those of us who like to be in control the very thought of this is likely to provoke a bit of anxiety. The truth of the matter is that no matter how good we are, we can’t do everything. Sometimes we take on more than we can handle. Delegation is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of intelligence. Find competent, reliable people and share some of the responsibilities. It will allow you to be less stressed and more productive.
Use your downtime. This tip requires some balance. Using all of your downtime for planning and prioritizing is bad and can lead to increased stress and burnout. However, if you find yourself sitting in early morning traffic, this may be a good time to start prioritizing your day or making plans for dinner. If you’re waiting in the doctor’s office, this may be a good time to write the grocery list. (Just don’t forget it.) If you have opportunities like these make the best of them, but also remember to use them for relaxation as needed.
Reward yourself. When you accomplish something, celebrate it! How you celebrate is up to you. My word of advice is to keep whatever you choose to do healthy, make sure it’s something you really enjoy, don’t do it in excess, and don’t let it cause you to get further behind. Time management skills are an essential part of making your day just a little easier. Find what works for you and stick to it.
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10 Common Time Management Mistakes - Avoiding Common Pitfalls
How well do you manage your time? If you're like many people, your answer may not be completely positive! Perhaps you feel overloaded, and you often have to work late to hit your deadlines. Or maybe your days seem to go from one crisis to another, and this is stressful and demoralizing.
Many of us know that we could be managing our time more effectively; but it can be difficult to identify the mistakes that we're making, and to know how we could improve. When we do manage our time well, however, we're exceptionally productive at work, and our stress levels drop. We can devote time to the interesting, high-reward projects that can make a real difference to a career. In short, we're happier!
In this article, we're looking at ten of the most common time management mistakes, as well as identifying strategies and tips that you can use to overcome them. These ten mistakes are:
Mistake #1. Failing to Keep a To-Do List. Do you ever have that nagging feeling that you've forgotten to do an important piece of work? If so, you probably don't use a To-Do List to keep on top of things. (Or, if you do, you might not be using it effectively!) The trick with using To-Do Lists effectively lies in prioritizing the tasks on your list. Many people use an A – F coding system (A for high priority items, F for very low priorities). So make sure that you break large tasks or projects down into specific, actionable steps – then you won't overlook something important.
Mistake #2. Not Setting Personal Goals. Do you know where you'd like to be in six months? What about this time next year, or even 10 years from now? If not, it's time to set some personal goals! Personal goal setting is essential to managing your time well, because goals give you a destination and vision to work toward. When you know where you want to go, you can manage your priorities, time, and resources to get there. Goals also help you decide what's worth spending your time on, and what's just a distraction.
Mistake #3. Not Prioritizing. Sometimes, it's hard to know how to prioritize, especially when you're facing a flood of seemingly-urgent tasks. However, it's essential to learn how to prioritize tasks effectively if you want to manage your time better.
Mistake #4. Failing to Manage Distractions. Do you know that some of us can lose as much as two hours a day to distractions? Think how much you could get done if you had that time back!
Whether they come from emails, IM chats, colleagues in a crisis, or phone calls from clients, distractions prevent us from achieving flow, which is the satisfying and seemingly effortless work that we do when we're 100 percent engaged in a task. If you want to gain control of your day and do your best work, it's vital to know how to minimize distractions and manage interruptions effectively. For instance, turn off your IM chat when you need to focus, and let people know if they're distracting you too often. You should also learn how to improve your concentration, even when you're faced with distractions.
Mistake #5. Procrastination. Procrastination occurs when you put off tasks that you should be focusing on right now. When you procrastinate, you feel guilty that you haven't started; you come to dread doing the task; and, eventually, everything catches up with you when you fail to complete the work on time. For instance, one useful strategy is to tell yourself that you're only going to start on a project for ten minutes. Often, procrastinators feel that they have to complete a task from start to finish, and this high expectation makes them feel overwhelmed and anxious. Instead, focus on devoting a small amount of time to starting. That's all!
Mistake #6. Taking on Too Much. Are you a person who has a hard time saying "no" to people? If so, you probably have far too many projects and commitments on your plate. This can lead to poor performance, stress, and low morale. Or, you might be a micromanager: someone who insists on controlling or doing all of the work themselves, because they can't trust anyone else to do it correctly. (This can be a problem for everyone – not just managers!) Either way, taking on too much is a poor use of your time, and it can get you a reputation for producing rushed, sloppy work. To stop this, learn the subtle art of saying "yes" to the person, but "no" to the task. This skill helps you assert yourself, while still maintaining good feelings within the group. If the other person starts leaning on you to say "yes" to their request, learn how to think on your feet and stay cool under pressure.
Mistake #7. Thriving on "Busy". Some people get a rush from being busy. The narrowly-met deadlines, the endless emails, the piles of files needing attention on the desk, the frantic race to the meeting... What an adrenaline buzz! The problem is that an "addiction to busyness" rarely means that you're effective, and it can lead to stress. Instead, try to slow down, and learn to manage your time better.
Mistake #8. Multitasking. The best thing is to forget about multitasking, and, instead, focus on one task at a time. That way, you'll produce higher quality work.
Mistake #9. Not Taking Breaks. It's nice to think that you can work for 8-10 hours straight, especially when you're working to a deadline. But it's impossible for anyone to focus and produce really high-quality work without giving their brains some time to rest and recharge.
So, don't dismiss breaks as "wasting time." They provide valuable down-time, which will enable you to think creatively and work effectively. If it's hard for you to stop working, then schedule breaks for yourself, or set an alarm as a reminder. Go for a quick walk, grab a cup of coffee, or just sit and meditate at your desk. Try to take a five minute break every hour or two. And make sure that you give yourself ample time for lunch – you won't produce top quality work if you're hungry!
Mistake #10. Ineffectively Scheduling Tasks. Are you a morning person? Or do you find your energy picking up once the sun begins to set in the evening? All of us have different rhythms, that is, different times of day when we feel most productive and energetic. You can make best use of your time by scheduling high-value work during your peak time, and low-energy work (like returning phone calls and checking email), during your "down" time.
Quotes about Time Management...
“The trouble with being punctual is that nobody’s there to appreciate it.” – Franklin P. Jones
“I have noticed that the people who are late are often so much jollier than the people who have to wait for them.” – E.V. Lucas
“I am definitely going to take a course on time management… just as soon as I can work it into my schedule.” – Louis E. Boone
“Don’t get sidetracked stomping on ants when you have elephants to feed.” – Peter Turla
“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” – Cyril Northcote Parkinson
“If it weren’t for the last minute, a lot of things wouldn’t get done.” – Michael S. Traylor
“Those who make the worst of their time most complain about its shortness.” – La Bruyere
“It’s not how many things you start that make you successful. It’s how many worthwhile things you finish.” – Peter Turla
“Hope is not a plan” – author unknown
“Knowing what to do is good; actually doing it is better.” – Peter Turla
“Transform a wish into a goal by putting a date on it.” – Peter Turla
“Be mindful of how you approach time. Watching the clock is not the same as watching the sun rise.” – Sophia Bedford-Pierce
“Managing your time without setting priorities is like shooting randomly and calling whatever you hit the target.” – Peter Turla
“If you want to have a high quality personal life, plan a high quality personal life.” – Peter Turla
“Living your life without a plan is like watching television with someone else holding the remote control.” – Peter Turla
“It’s better to do the right thing slowly than the wrong thing quickly.” – Peter Turla
“Everything requires time. It is the only truly universal condition. All work takes place in time and uses up time. Yet most people take for granted this unique, irreplaceable, and necessary resource. Nothing else, perhaps, distinguishes effective executives as much as their tender loving care of time.” – Peter F. Drucker
“If you don’t have time to plan, do you have time to waste?” – Peter Turla
“Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year — and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!” – Anthony Robbins
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” – Michael Altshuler
“Don’t spend a dollar’s worth of time on a ten cent decision.” – Peter Turla
“Plan, because things that are planned are more apt to happen than things that are not planned.” – Peter Turla
“We can no more afford to spend major time on minor things than we can to spend minor time on major things.” – Jim Rohn
“Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.”- Will Rogers
“If you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.” – Lily Tomlin
“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.” – Henry David Thoreau
“If the consequence of doing nothing is nothing- then do nothing” – Peter Turla
“Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.” – Alfred A. Montapert