What is time management? Good time management helps you to keep your work under control. As the time you have is finite – you can never have more than 24 hours a day – maximising the use of the time you have available is essential. Nothing is worse than feeling that you have worked really hard for a long period but achieved very little. Good time management can reduce or avoid you wasting time and as a result achieve more. A person who manages their time well is likely to be someone who usually avoids the stress of work overload, who concentrates on results rather than just on ‘being busy’ and is seen to be effective. Improving your time management Understand how you manage your time Everyone manages their time differently. What helps is to understand: how you work what time of the day you are most productive what is preventing you from being even more effective in managing your time. A good first step in understanding how you work is to go to the MindTools website. The site includes an online test ‘how good is your time management?’ which you can use to assess your current time management. It then directs you to other parts of the site where you can access information on several useful tools and techniques such as goal setting, managing interruptions, prioritisation etc. Two time management tools Two management tools that can help are: The Pareto principle – the 20/80 principle… The Pareto principle says that of the things you do during your day, only 20 per cent really matter. But those 20 per cent produce 80 per cent of your results. If you can identify and focus on those things – and find that important 20 per cent – it will make a real difference in how you manage your time. The important/urgent matrix Stephen Covey in ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ describes a time management matrix that divides tasks or activities into four quadrants. Those that are: urgent and important urgent and not important not urgent and important not urgent and not important. Effective time managers spend most of their time dealing with things that are important but not urgent. These can include tasks but also as Stephen Covey says: “building relationships, writing a personal mission statement, long range planning, exercising, preventive maintenance, preparation – all those things we know we need to do, but somehow seldom get round to doing”. Barriers to improving your time management Email obsession Checking your email every five minutes won’t help you manage your time better. Unless you are waiting for an important message to arrive, restrict the number of times you check your email box to two or three times a day. Procrastinating Even when you are clear about the tasks you must get done, there will be times when you find yourself procrastinating; when you just can’t get started on a task or you keep putting it off. At other times you can’t complete something you’ve started or you are stuck somewhere in the middle! But whatever is happening, you can waste considerable time procrastinating and feel very stressed as a result. Why do you say “yes” to tasks when you are already very busy? How to Overcome Procrastination help you understand what is going on and what you might be able to do to avoid procrastinating. Useful links 16 TED talks on procrasination How to mitigate the urgent to focus on the important An 18-minute plan to manage your day.