Time management is the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity. Time management may be aided by a range of skills, tools, and techniques used to manage time when accomplishing specific tasks, projects and goals.
You can also learn to identify time-wasting tasks by keeping a diary for a few days and noticing where you may be losing time.
For example, productivity experts recommend setting aside a specific time (or multiple times) each day to check and respond to email and messages rather than being a continual slave to incoming information. Banishing procrastination is another time-management skill that can be learned or perfected.
Time management is the ability to plan and control how you spend the hours in your day to effectively accomplish your goals. Poor time management can be related to procrastination, as well as problems with self-control. Skills involved in managing your time include planning for the future, setting goals, prioritizing tasks, and monitoring where your time actually goes.
“I make lots of lists and I have an agenda every day. I use a calendar – not a Blackberry calendar - and I list things for that day in order of importance. Sometimes conflicts come up and things get shifted around, but for the most part I stay on point.”
The best way to manage ourselves better is to establish priorities in our lives. What are the most important things that need our attention and focus? As our businesses and responsibilities grow, there are more opportunities for distraction and loss of focus. So how do we get focus? Focus comes from elimination; we must eliminate everything that is not a priority for our attention.
The goal isn't to squeeze as much mindless activity into the day as possible. Being successsful doesn't necessarily mean being frantically busy. The goal is knowing what's important, individually and within the context of our family and community, and ensuring that our days and weeks honor those priorities, not because they squeal the loudest, but because they're most important to us.
Once I have my notebook in front of me, I put the day's date at the top of a right-hand page. Then I start listing the things I need to do. I don't worry about setting priorities at first or separating business from personal tasks; I just write things down as they come to me. When I finish I pick about five of the most pressing items and prioritize those, with a big number next to each task. I find there's no sense in ranking every item at once, since I seldom can complete more than a handful of projects a day. I leave the left-hand pages of the notebook blank, so I can jot short notes during conversations or attach miscellaneous information I want to save.
This big vision will be accomplished in small steps, taking action consistently over time. Once you acknowledge that you can't possibly do everything you think you should do, have to do or want to do, ask the question "What is the best use of my time and energy today?"
There are only three ways to spend time: thoughts, conversations and actions. Regardless of the type of business you own, your work will be composed of those three items.
The reason time management gadgets and systems don't work is that these systems are designed to manage clock time. Clock time is irrelevant. You don't live in or even have access to clock time. You live in real time, a world in which all time flies when you are having fun or drags when you are doing your taxes.
Let's strip away all this complexity and get back to basics for a moment. What is time management? The essence of time management is the following:
Decide what to do