Time Management

It has often been said that time is our “most scarce resource”. Therefore, we all must invest in – and use it – prudently. When you think about it, all of us have basically the same amount of time. But you will still find many people saying they “do not have enough time”, or they “need more time”.

 

Have you ever wondered how it is that some people seem to have enough time to do everything that they want to, whereas others are always rushing from task to task, and never seem to finish anything?

Is it just that the former have less to do? No, it’s much more likely that they are using their time more effectively and practising good time management skills.

What Is Time Management?

Time management introduction

Time Management Definition

“Time management” is the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between specific activities. Good time management enables you to work smarter – not harder – so that you get more done in less time, even when time is tight and pressures are high. Failing to manage your time damages your effectiveness and causes stress.

What is time management?

The most productive people manage their time exceptionally well because they focus on results, not activities. By doing so they: 

  • Meet deadlines
  • Produce quality work
  • Have excellent professional reputations
  • Have better work-life balance
  • Experience less stress

There are many ways to improve individual and collective time management skills, but one of the most effective is by applying the 80/20 principle.

The 80/20 principle

The 80/20 principle states that the relationship between output and input is unequal. In other words, you achieve approximately 80% of your results with just 20% of your efforts. You spend the rest of your time on those disruptions – the meetings, emails, phone calls, etc. 

Which out of the below can be achieved if time is managed effectively

Please select all that apply

  • Meet deadlines
  • Have more time to spend on personal chores
  • Be able to watch fun videos on Youtube
  • Have excellent professional reputations
  • Have better work-life balance

Effective time management is dependent on which of the following:

  • How quickly I get relevant information on projects
  • How many breaks do I take in a day
  • Who is sitting next to me
  • Whether I get to sit in silent room or not
  • How many calls I make to brokers/owners

Effects of time management

Spending a little time learning about time-management techniques will have huge benefits now – and throughout your career.

Time Management Basics

Time Management as a Skill

Time management is not very difficult as a concept, but it’s surprisingly hard to do in practice. It requires the investment of a little time upfront to prioritise and organise yourself. 

But once done, you will find that with minor tweaks, your day, and indeed your week and month, fall into place in an orderly fashion, with time for everything you need to do.

Other than as a discipline, time management is also described as a skill or the ability to plan and consequently control the amount of time you spend in accomplishing your tasks. It boils down to how skilled a person is in his analysis of how his hours are spent on a specific activity. It also tells a lot about his ability to prioritize his tasks in an effort to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.

As a skill, time management is something that can be mastered with consistent practice and further developed over time. Once this skill has been mastered, our work and personal lives will be more organized, much easier to handle, more efficient, and definitely happier.

Two Focuses of Time Management

Let’s get this straight: time management is not about getting EVERYTHING done. There are two specific points that time management includes:

Getting MORE THINGS done: 

You have a limited amount of time. Thus, you have to manage it so that you will be able to get a lot more work done within that limited time. In the past, when you used to barely finish two tasks in one hour, perhaps you can find a way to be able to finish three or four in the same amount of time. You can do that through time management.

Getting the RIGHT THINGS done: 

It is possible that you may end up doing something other than what you originally set out to do. You planned to finish Task 1 in one hour. However, in the middle of that hour, your attention got diverted and you also started working on Task 2. When the hour was up, you ended up not finishing Task 1, and actually even had another (Task 2) pending. As a result, you did not finish anything. With time management, you may have been able to finish Task 1 before the hour was even up, and got a head start on Task 2.

What are the two focuses of time management?

  • Getting more things done
  • Getting everything done
  • Getting nothing done
  • Getting the right things done

Why is Time Management Important?

We have all established that time is a resource that must be managed. But to what end or purpose? What do we hope to gain from managing time?

Out of the below reasons mentioned, which ones are imperative to effective time management?

  • To add more stress in your life
  • To simplify things
  • To add structure to your day or life
  • To have more time to chat with your friends
  • To increase efficiency
  • To increase productivity
  • To impress your boss

How can I effectively manage my time?

  • By preparing a list of brokers to be called a day in advance
  • Creating a weekly to-do list on Monday and assessing it every Friday
  • Taking shorter breaks
  • Creating a google doc/spreadsheet of daily work activities
  • Setting a time limit to every activity
  • Asking team members to work on my behalf
  • Seeking my manager’s help whenever I am stuck
  • All of the above

The 4 pillars of time management

To simplify things. 

You are practically dealing with clutter if you do not make an effort to organize your time. 

By setting up a timetable for you to follow, you simplify your day. Now it is simply a matter of sticking to the plan and not getting sidetracked.

To add structure to your day or life

When you manage time, there is less clutter, and everything is more organized. 

With a timetable or a plan in place, you are better able to see where you stand at the moment, where you aim to be at the end of the day, and how you will be able to get there.

To increase efficiency. 

Work will definitely be better facilitated because there is less clutter to deal with. 

You can focus on the important things, the things that need the most attention, and leave the rest for later.

To increase productivity. 

If you have a firm hold on your time and are able to control how you use it, you will be able to get more work done or show higher output. 

This is an offshoot of improved efficiency and productivity.

The importance of time management

The Key to Good Time Management

Step 1: Understanding The Difference Between Urgent and Important

Urgent tasks demand your immediate attention, but whether you actually give them that attention may or may not matter.

'Important' tasks matter, and not doing them may have serious consequences for you or others.

This distinction between urgent and important is the key to prioritising your time and your workload.

Prioritizing activities:

The Action Priority Matrix serves as a decision-making tool. Tasks are scored by their effort and impact in this Matrix. The Action Priority Matrix consists of four quadrants which depict four different types of activities:

“Quick Wins” = High impact, low effort

Quick Wins are activities that require little effort but create the most value (or have the most impact). These activities or projects have the highest priority and you should focus as much time as possible on them.

“Major Projects” = High impact, high effort

Major Projects are also activities which create a lot of value, but unlike Quick Wins, they also require you to put a lot of time and effort into them. These types of projects are second on the priority hierarchy, and you should take enough time to do these tasks. But make sure that you do not let a Major Project take over all of your time and energy. The key is to finish these activities as quickly and efficiently as possible.

“Fill-Ins” = Low impact, low effort

Fill-Ins are activities that require little effort but their outcomes also don’t leave a big impact. Which is why you should only do these tasks if you have time, otherwise you can just delegate or even drop them.

“Thankless Tasks” = Low impact, high effort

As the name already indicates, Thankless Tasks are the least attractive of tasks because they require a lot of effort but yield a comparably low return. These are the tasks that you can just drop because they are just not worth your time.

Using the Action Priority Matrix

Step 1: Make a list of all your activities.

Step 2: Score the activities based on their impact and the effort you have to put into them to complete them. You can use a school grading scale from A (= high) to F (= low) or a 1-10 scale, or any other scale to score the activities according to their impact and effort needed to complete them.

Step 3: Plot the activities on your Action Priority Matrix based on their scores.

Step 4: Prioritize your activities:

  • Quick Wins get the highest priority.
  • Focus the remaining time on Major Projects.
  • If you have capacities left, do the Fill In activities. If not, delegate these tasks.
  • Eliminate Thankless Tasks.

Prioritize the tasks mentioned

  • Creating and seeding discussions on top projects
  • Moderating the platform
  • Answering queries on the forum
  • Social media posting, hashtag analysis
  • Converting brokers into experts on A&A
  • Creating infographics for content and social
  • Writing Articles
  • Answering personal calls
  • Catching up on office gossip
  • Watching funny videos on YouTube
  • Buying new shoes on Amazon
  • Checking your personal Facebook feed

Step 2: Effective Planning

Effective Planning

The activities that need to be done during the day must be planned earlier. This can be done through something as simple as a list of things “To-Do”

The tasks should be listed in order of priority, with the most important activities listed first. Include the time allocated for each task or activity. 

You will use that list as your guide on the order of how you should accomplish them.

What are the possible benefits of using a To-Do List?

  • Prioritize
  • Manage tasks effectively
  • Improve your hand writting
  • Accountability
  • Organizing your time
  • Using newly purchased stationary
  • All of the above

Step 3: Determine your “prime time”

It is a fact that not all people function in the same manner. Some are more productive at certain times of the day than others. 

This is where the concepts of “morning person” and “night owls” are considered. It is a matter of identifying the time of the day where your energy levels are high. 

Most likely, that is also your most productive time or your “prime time”. 

By assigning the high-priority and complex tasks or the tasks that require a lot of attention during your prime time, you are increasing the probability that these tasks will be completed or accomplished without any problems.

How do you identify your "Prime Time"?

  • It is the time you like watching prime time shows on television
  • It is the time when you are feeling sleepy after a heavy lunch
  • It is the time when you are most energetic
  • None of the above

Step 4: Don’t Procrastinate, but do ask why you’re tempted

If a task is genuinely urgent and important, get on with it.

If, however, you find yourself making excuses about not doing something, ask yourself why.

You may be doubtful about whether you should be doing the task at all. Perhaps you’re concerned about the ethics, or you don’t think it’s the best option.  If so, you may find that others agree. 

Talk it over with colleagues or your manager, and see if there is an alternative that might be better.

Why should you question your need to procrastinate?

  • The task might be redundant or unethical
  • You should not question it
  • The task might be difficult and time consuming

Step 5: Don’t Try To Multi-task

Generally, people aren’t very good at multi-tasking, because it takes our brains time to refocus.

It’s much better to finish off one job before moving onto another. 

If you do have to do lots of different tasks, try to group them together, and do similar tasks consecutively.

Select if the following statements are true or false

  • Multi-Tasking can result to diminished focus
  • Multi-Tasking can lead to wastage of time
  • Working on several things at once can be underwhelming at times
  • I should create discussions while addressing Twitter/Facebook customer grievances
  • It’s ok to indulge in small talk while working as it reduces work stress
  • It’s fine to not update my work tracker on time if there’s work pressure
  • It is ok to extend deadlines of deliverables to next week because it’s Friday
  • I should respond to my manager on emails as soon as I read them

Step 6: Multiply Your Time

Take this quiz to find out your individual time management style