Time Management - Understanding time management

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Time management is the ability to use your time efficiently. It involves planning, prioritising and managing your time to ensure that you are getting the most out of the time that you have.

Time is money

A good way to think about time is like an investment. You have a finite number of hours each day to invest in activities, and you want to make sure that the time you invest delivers a good return (i.e. those activities help you to achieve your goals).

Think about it, how many of your tasks take a great deal of time but have little impact on the overall results for your team or department? How many meetings do you sit in that deliver no value to you? How much time do you waste checking, sorting and writing emails?

The concept of investment vs. return really is the fundamental principle of time management. In order to use your time efficiently you need to constantly evaluate how much time you are putting in vs. the value you are generating for your efforts.

Benefits of effective time management

Effective time management doesn't just help you do more in less time, it helps you get on top of your workload and take control of your work life. The benefits of effective time management include:

  • Reduced emotional and physical stress
  • Increased sense of control over your work
  • Increased ability to deliver results under pressure
  • Increased motivation and engagement

Common time management pitfalls

There are a number of time management traps that people tend to fall into. Throughout this module we will look at strategies to manage these and use your time more efficiently.

  • Poor planning or no planning at all - without a plan, it's difficult to organise your time and keep track of tasks. A plan gives you structure and direction.
  • Failing to prioritise tasks - all tasks are not equal value. Failing to prioritise means that you might focus on the wrong thing at the wrong time and/or waste time on unimportant tasks.
  • Inability to let go and delegate tasks - doing everything yourself means that you waste time on low value tasks that could be done by someone else.
  • Inability to say no - saying yes to everything (e.g. meetings, other people's tasks) leaves you less time to focus on things that are critical to you achieving your goals.
  • Email - emails can distract you from what you are doing and waste time if there is a faster way to get a message across (e.g. picking up the phone).

A final word...

Time management is not about managing your time perfectly all the time. Occasionally you will have unproductive days. You might get caught up in meetings that you couldn't get out of, or be forced to deal with an urgent issue that suddenly came up. Or you might just have a slow day where you feel unmotivated and don't get a whole lot done.

The important thing is that you make the most of your time where you can. Always be conscious of how you are using your time and try to use it in the most productive and efficient way.

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Next: Time Management - Planning and prioritising