Time management is as much of a tool as it is a reflection of who we are. Many studies have found, the way you manage your time greatly influences several areas of your life. Using your time effectively and efficiently does not only impact your professional performance, but it has direct effects on your mood, state of mind, personal and interpersonal relationships, and health.
Collins Dictionary defines time management as follows: “Time management is the process of deciding on the order in which you will do tasks, and making sure that they are done on schedule.”
A pretty clear definition but not detailed enough to encompass all of its aspects as an essential skill in today’s fast-paced world. With so much to do in today’s world, almost nothing could be achieved without at least some degree of time management, from job-related tasks to spending family time.
“Time isn’t the only thing. It’s the main thing”
Brief History Of Time Management Strategies
Time management strategies date back to the 1800s but it was not until the early 1900s that a more scientific approach was taken.
Frederick Winslow Taylor, considered the father of time management, focused his efforts on increasing the efficiency of each individual worker, encompassing even their personal environment. His goal was to increase productivity in the workplace as well as an increased sense of fulfillment for the employees.
This should be the right approach for companies and individuals alike because personal life is undeniably correlated to professional life.
According to WorkFront’s 2016 report, ‘Unlocking the UK’s ‘Daily Savings Time’, workers waste an average of 11.4 hours a week and less than 60% of a working day is spent productively, which is costing millions of dollars to companies all around the world.
Benefits Of Time Management Skills
Increased productivity and a reduction of wasted time are the two most recognizable benefits. However, committing to long term changes in the way you manage your time has even more benefits in other areas:
- Improved Relationships
- Increased Satisfaction
- Functional Work-Life Balance
- Reduced Levels of Stress and Anxiety
Improving Your Time Management Skills And Focus
Making a Schedule
Organizing your time days (or even weeks) in advance has shown to be one of the greatest ways to improve management skills. As the study “The Impact of Time Management on Students’ Academic Achievement” found:
“…all the time management behaviours are significantly positively related to academic achievement of students… Time planning is the most significant correlated predictor.”
Having a clear idea of how you will spend your time will take a lot of pressure from you, especially when there’s a lot that needs to get done. You’ll find it easier to deal with the expected and the unexpected once you start working on your schedule and define which tasks and patterns you can modify.
Even a good schedule can only do so much if you don’t prioritize tasks correctly. Unexpected events can happen at any time, and even if you can’t do anything about that, knowing how to prioritize will provide you with a better chance of overcoming issues with ease.
Understanding which activities are more important and will give you better results will allow you to use your time on those tasks over less important ones. This will also allow you to set some boundaries.
The Good Distractions
The word “Distraction” tends to be seen as something negative, but that is far from true. Of course, not being able to focus on a task is counterproductive, but not all distractions are bad.
In fact, you would be surprised that small breaks have shown to increase one’s productivity. A study by the Draugiem Group, a collection of companies based in Latvia, found that small breaks of 17 minutes every hour, actually increased people’s productivity.
According to their findings 52 minutes of work, followed by 17 minutes of break is the perfect ratio to keep productivity at optimal levels. So, to take the most advantage of this, you could use this time to distract yourself from work and relieve some of your stress.
Procrastination is without a doubt one of the most detrimental practices in today’s world. Not only does it increase stress levels but it ultimately leads to a decrease in productivity and tends to affect every area of your life.
Unfortunately, it is too easy to fall victim to this bad habit as avoiding working on some projects can sometimes feel like leaving some time for yourself. To make the most of your time you should make an effort to finish everything earlier rather than later.
By doing this, instead of worrying the entire week just to worry even more when you try to finish before the deadline, you’ll find yourself with more free time. If you can do it today, why do it tomorrow?
Dealing With Stress
Stress and time management are like a two way street – poor management leads to stress and elevated levels of stress make it much harder to properly manage time.
More often than not, the stress in the workplace occurs when there’s more work than you’re capable of handling. So, learning to deal with stress will improve your performance in the workplace as well as in your personal life.
Some of the best ways to deal with it include exercise, meditation, going outside, and engaging in entertaining activities or hobbies.
There are many ways to manage time properly. Being aware of what needs to be done and how much time you have available for it will help you plan accordingly.
As soon as you start you’ll notice two important things:
- Decreased Stress Levels
- Increase In Focus And Productivity
If you’re not used to managing your time it might be a bit difficult at first, but you’ll start seeing the benefits almost as soon as you start applying it. It does require practice and a certain amount of discipline to keep yourself on the right track, but the benefits on a personal and professional level are really unmeasurable.