Time management and ability to prioritize is one of the most sought-after behavioral skills in the workplace, according to the report by IBM.
With the constant changes and flexibility at work, it’s vital to organize time and operate effectively. Many books, articles, and guides have been written on the topic. Yet some people still struggle with poor time control.
So what makes some better at time management than others? Is it even possible to manage such an abstract thing as time? You can measure it, you can even track time, but to manage it? Check out what time management is and what are the most common signs of poor time organization.
The Definition of Time Management
There are as many definitions of time management as many minds. But not all people know that the father of time management is considered to be Frederick Winslow Taylor. He wanted to improve industrial efficiency, and his management theory evolved into different fields of work advancement.
Today, the concept has grown and is used in many other areas. And it has its advocates as well as opponents. Some believe you can fully control the time and can operate it however you want, while others think it’s all about attention management–what you decide to concentrate on in a given period of time.
In general, the two points of view intertwine, so the distinction can blur. So time management is about how you organize your time (or attention) and what you focus on during the day.
It’s about planning and organizing your day in such a way that you can get the most out of it, feel happy, and satisfied, and at the same time deliver the best work results.
Time management helps to reduce workload, plan and work effectively, and maximize the outcome by minimizing the input.
The Three As of Effective Time Management
In his article for Harvard Business Review, Erich C. Dierdorff, a professor of management and entrepreneurship at the Richard H. Driehaus College of Business at DePaul University, lists three important skills that you need to organize your time effectively.
Let’s analyze the three pillars of effective time management:
1. Awareness: you need to understand that time is not something you can expand, limit, or flexibly adjust to your needs. It’s a limited resource that needs to be used wisely.
2. Arrangement: is about planning your tasks, activities, or intends to fit them in your schedule smartly.
3. Adaptation: is important when priorities shift or plans change so you can adjust the schedule accordingly to how much time you have.
Managing time is a constant process that has to be monitored, adjusted, and optimized. No tool or strategy will help you be more efficient if you can’t set up this process right.
What Time Management Is Not—What to Avoid
There are myths and poor practices that are harmful to the management of time. One of them is the belief that you can simply put time management tips into action and hope things go smoothly. On the contrary, first, you need to set up the right system.
Secondly, you should avoid work overload. Many people tend to take on too many tasks just so they can get busy, work more, and accomplish more. But, in his book, The 4-Hour Week, Tim Ferris says that “you shouldn’t be trying to do more in each day, trying to fill every second with a work fidget of some type.” Sometimes less means better.
And so you should eliminate unnecessary tasks, delegate those that you can, and focus on the most important work.
Another bad practice is sticking to one method or tool, even if you doubt in its efficacy. A technique that works for some, may not be good for you. Everything depends on your style of work, business type, and many other factors.
The most important thing in good time management is adjusting different approaches to your work style. Understand, act, and adapt. As mentioned above, it’s a continuous process that takes effort, patience, and, well… time.
How to Improve Your Time Management Skills?
You don’t have to apply extravagant methods of managing time. You also don’t have to follow all the hacks, tips, and tricks. Good time management is actually much simpler.
Take a look at the basics that will help you master time management skills. Following them step by step will help you achieve work-life balance, satisfaction, and happiness.
What would time management be without planning? It’s like a car without an engine—you won’t be able to drive it in any direction.
You need to learn to plan your day, week, month, and even a year. It will help you organize work and personal activities in such a way that you can feel fulfilled. Also, you’ll work stress-free and effectively.
And don’t forget to leave some free space in your calendar for unexpected events! You have to be ready for everything.
2. Set clear goals
So planning is one step. But if you don’t know what you want to achieve, is like working in the dark.
Think about what your goals are. Why do you want to achieve them? How? When? Are they realistic?
Think about both long-term and short-term goals, personal and career goals. Then, write them down on your to-do list or in your calendar and work to reach it.
Setting clear goals is like a lamp. Once you turn it on, you no longer work in the darkness!
Some tasks are more important than others. It’s best if you decide which to act upon immediately and which are better to be left for later.
For example, you can use the favored method of eating the frog—do the worst thing, the biggest, most important task first thing in the morning. Then, the rest of the day will go smoothly.
If you go through every book and article on time management, you’ll see thousands of tips, tricks, hacks. But you’ll also notice that there are people who don’t agree with these methods. And that’s completely normal because not everything is good for everyone.
You don’t have to stick to the most common tips and hack but create your system. Bend the rules, stretch them, whatever you need to make it work for you. You are the only person who knows yourself best!
5. Have the right tools
When you’re choosing an app, make sure it corresponds to your business needs, style of work. Also, make sure it has all the necessary features. Not too many, not too little. Opt for the right amount.
Don’t stick to a tool just because it’s fancy and has a friendly interface, or because everyone else uses it. There are plenty of time management apps to choose from. Or maybe a simple paper to-do list or a classical calendar work for you better than an app? That’s great! Stick to it and you’ll achieve your biggest dreams!
6. Audit your time
It’s important to know how you’re spending your time at work. It can help you better understand processes, find strong, and weak spots.
The best way to do so is to use time tracking software. With it, you can analyze your productivity and better allocate time.
7. Review and adjust
You already know that proper time management requires adapting to changes. It’s a multilayered process, and you need to be able to assess such aspects as time, money, available resources, etc.
Reviewing is a powerful activity and can save you a lot of time and money. Especially, if you are a freelancer, work in a non-standard way, or have shifting tasks and priorities.
Need some extra help with your time management techniques? Below, you can find some resources that can help you better manage your time:
Tools and software:
- TimeCamp – time tracking software that automatically keeps a record of your tasks, helps to track billable time, and much more
- HeySpace – collaboration and communication app for teams; helps to save time and improve workflow
- Remember The Milk – a simple but powerful to-do list app
- Trello – a Kanban-like app helpful in managing ideas, tasks, or entire projects
- Habitica – goals and habits tracker that helps to monitor progress in a gamified style
- WFH – The Complete List of Remote Work Resources – a long but comprehensive list of helpful resources (not only for WFH workers) including books, articles, websites, podcasts, and many more
- Our blog – here, you can find a wide range of topics, from time management to business management, and software review
- Harvard Business Review section on time management with scientific articles written by acclaimed authors and researchers
Time management is essential because it helps to organize the day, make work more efficient, and plan a better future.
It’s beneficial to be able to manage time the best way possible. Especially, that the trend of mastering the skill in the workplace will be on the rise.
What are your thoughts on time management? Do you have your favorite method and tools? Let us know in the comment section below!
Happy time management!
One thought on “The Importance of Time Management (And 3 Signs You’re Doing It Wrong)”
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