The (not so) secrets of great time management

A multitude of clocks to help you with your time management

Time management is the process of using your time wisely and productively, where you plan and control how much time you spend on any given task. Good time management lets you get more done in a shorter period of time. This can lead to lower stress, higher productivity, an increased ability to achieve your goals, and more opportunities for success.

Stress relief

Creating and following a scheduled to-do list reduces anxiety. A scheduled to-do list is one where you’ve put your to-do items on your calendar and stick to that schedule. As you check off the to-dos on your list, you can literally see that you’re making progress. This helps you avoid feeling stressed out with worry about whether or not you’re getting things done.

 

Reducing your stress level can literally save your life. High levels of stress have been correlated with high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Less lethal effects of stress include depression, anxiety, obesity, eating disorders, sexual dysfunction, menstrual problems, acne, eczema, hair loss, acid reflux, constipation, and diarrhea. 

More time for what you want to do

Good time management gives you extra time to spend in your day-to-day life, time you could use to spend with your kids, pursue passion projects or hobbies, and achieve big goals — all without hustle and burnout. People who can manage their time well effectively gain extra hours in their day.

 

You could use those extra hours to volunteer with your favorite charity. Put in that vegetable garden you’ve always talked about. Make it to all your kids’ baseball games. All without deadlines or “shoulds” looming over your head.

A bounty of fresh vegetables
Who knew time management could be so tasty?

More opportunities

Good time management leads to more opportunities for advancement and improvement, and less time wasted on trivial activities. Good time management skills are a key quality that employers look for. The ability to prioritize and schedule is extremely desirable for any organization.

 

People who manage their time well are highly prized employees. They often earn promotions and raises more quickly than those whose time management skills leave something to be desired. 

Ability to realize goals

People who practice good time management are able to achieve goals and objectives more easily, and to do so in a shorter amount of time. They’re able to allocate their time to the tasks and to-dos that are the building blocks of their goals, both large and small.

A chaotic pile of multicolored Lego blocks
Just don't step on your building blocks with bare feet!

Tips for effective time management

  • Set goals correctly. Set goals that are achievable, actionable, measurable, and trackable. Depending on the goal setting method you use, the terms will vary. 

  • Prioritize wisely. Prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency. For example, look at your daily tasks and determine which are:

    • Important and urgent – do these tasks immediately.

    • Important but not urgent – decide when you’ll do these things.

    • Urgent but not important – delegate these tasks if at all possible.

    • Not urgent and not important – delay these tasks until the previous tasks are completed.

  • Set a time limit to complete a task. Setting constraints on your time for completing tasks helps you stay focused and efficient. Making the extra effort to decide on how much time you need to leave for each task can also help you recognize potential obstacles before they arise. That way you can make plans to deal with them.

  • Take a break between tasks. When doing a lot of tasks without a break, it’s hard to stay focused and motivated. Allow for some down time between tasks to clear your head and refresh yourself. Consider grabbing a short nap, going for a walk, or meditating.

Buddhist monks walking on a trail of rose petals
Or go for a walk WHILE you're meditating!

 

  • Organize yourself. Use your calendar for more long-term time management. Write down your project deadlines and tasks that are part of completing your overall project. Think about which days are best to dedicate to specific tasks. For example, you might need to plan a meeting to discuss cash flow on a day when you know the company CFO is available.

  • Remove non-essential tasks and activities. Determine what’s significant and what deserves your time. Removing non-essential tasks frees up more of your time to be spent on things that are truly important.

  • Plan ahead. Start every day with a crystal clear idea of what you need to do that day. Consider making it a habit at the end of every workday to go ahead and write out your to-do list for the next workday. That way you can get a jumpstart on your morning.

Implications of poor time management

  • Poor workflow. The inability to make plans ahead of time and stick to your goals means poor efficiency. For example, if there are several important tasks to complete, an effective plan would be to complete related tasks either together or one after another. But if you don’t plan ahead, you could end up either jumping back and forth or backtracking in your work. That translates to reduced efficiency and lower productivity.

  • Wasted time. Poor time management results in wasted time. For example, by talking to friends on social media while you’re doing an assignment, you are distracting yourself and wasting time.

  • Loss of control. By not knowing what your next task is, you lose control of your life. That contributes to higher stress levels and anxiety.

  • Poor quality of work. Poor time management makes the quality of your work suffer. For example, having to rush through tasks at the last minute often leads to lower quality work.

  • Poor reputation. If your clients or boss can’t rely on you to complete tasks on time, their expectations and perceptions of you are going to take a nosedive. If a client can’t rely on you to get something done on time, they will likely take their business elsewhere.

Effective time management is at the heart of successful productivity. The ramifications of poor time management will echo through everything you do. But with a little bit of planning, you’ll be able to keep your time management game on point and your productivity on track.

 

For more on time and productivity, check out Three simple ways to have more time and energy at home

The (not so) secrets of great time management

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