Time management

It’s not limited time that’s the problem, it’s bad time management.Marija Kojic

In my quest on how to save time, it was inevitable that I stumbled upon this topic. There is certainly no shortage1 of articles on time management techniques, skills, or tips. But what is time management exactly?

Time management2
Self-management with an explicit focus on time in deciding what to do; on how much time to allocate to activities; on how activities can be done more efficiently; and on when the time is right for particular activities.

Interestingly, the term appears to indicate that time is managed, but actually it is activities that are managed over time.2 Time is a limited resource indeed and time management refers to making the best use of this limited resource. It is about managing time effectively so that the right time is allocated to the right activity. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica® Online, the core of time management is to prevent [problems such as feeling overwhelmed by the workload; planning too optimistically; being unable to deal with distractions; deadline pressure; and procrastination] by preparation and planning.2.

“What about not having enough time to do all that I want?”

Time management is the ability to use your time productively and efficiently. You could also think of it as the art of having time to do everything that you need.

“Really? Great!”

Time and Tide wait for none

The first step you need to take is finding out where your time actually goes. You may believe that you only send 30 minutes on emails, but in reality that task is eating-up an hour of your day.John Rampton

With good time management,
you can stop wasting your time
and start using time wisely.

For this to happen, you need to understand where you waste your time in the first place. Keeping track of your time for a week will allow you to find out what’s stealing your time. With this information, you can then make the appropriate adjustments – that is to minimize or eliminate these time-wasters.

By keeping an Activity Log for a few days, you can build up an accurate picture of what you do during the day, and how you invest your time. You’ll find that memory is quite a poor guide, and that keeping the Log is an eye-opening experience!The Mind Tools Content Team

One useful way to do so is to keep an Activity Log. Basically, it’s a written record of how you spend your time. As suggested by Mind Tools3, I will prepare a spreadsheet with the following column headers:

  • Date/Time
  • Activity description
  • How I feel (alert, flat, tired, energetic, and so on)
  • Duration
  • Value (high, medium, low, none)

And I will note everything that I do and every time I change activities. By analyzing my activity log, not only will I know how I use my time, but also I will be able to track changes in my energy, alertness, and effectiveness throughout the day.

Greater productivity and efficiency

Get it right, and you’ll end up working smarter, not harder, to get more done in less time – even when time is tight and pressures are high.The Mind Tools Content Team

The benefits of good time management include greater productivity and efficiency; hence, more time to do the things that matter. This is what time management is all about, right! To finish tasks as early as possible without compromising on the quality of work. Thus, with good time management, I should get more free time to do all that I want.

“Now, let’s assume for a second that I am working as productively as possible; yet, I still can’t get everything done. Would time management still be of any use?”

Time management is more than just working more productively; it is also about being able to prioritize. Thus, it may be better to think about time management as a combination of working productively and prioritizing your time. Prioritization helps you realize that not everything you do is important. I will go through this chief aspect of time management in my next post, but the key to successful time management is to:

Be sure that you spend your time where it matters most.

What if…?

In the Wikipedia article on the matter, there is a section about the cultural views of time management. It opposes a linear time view, in which time is flowing from one moment to the next in a linear fashion, and a cyclical time view. Interestingly, the former view leads to a better focus on accomplishing a singular task and hence, more productive time management. On the other hand, for the latter view, time is not seen as wasted because it will always come back later, hence there is an unlimited amount of it.

It is more important in cultures with cyclical concepts of time to complete tasks correctly, therefore most people will spend more time thinking about decisions and the impact they will have, before acting on their plans.Wikipedia

Sounds familiar? To cogitate before to act! Should I remind you that my modus operandi is to study every aspect of a problem – gathering and reading all possible information on the subject matter – before to take the most informed decision possible; hence CogitActive (see cogitactive.com).

Now, what if I want to complete tasks correctly and need more productive time management at the same time? How to reconcile a cyclical time mindset with the imperatives of a linear time culture? Well, time management might not be the answer to everything.

Time of birth
All right reserved

Unfortunately, time management is not a magic trick to create time; as introduced above, it refers to managing time effectively so that the right time is allocated to the right activity. That being said, managing my time well should allow me to achieve more with less time. Because the time gained with this increased efficiency can be used for other activities2, it is worth delving into the wide variety of tips, tricks, and methods to develop good time management skills.

To be continued…

1 My search in Google for “time management” brings about 3,350,000,000 results. While it took Google only 0.70 seconds, it would have taken me an eternity to read them all. Obviously, I would not be able to keep with CogitActive principles on such a huge topic. ^
2 Time management (2022) Encyclopædia Britannica® Online. ^
3 See Activity Logs: Finding More Time in Your Day. ^

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