What is Time Management? The ultimate free guide to how you spend your time

a glass clock as a timer

Do you ever feel that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to handle everything that needs to be done? 

One minute you feel you have everything under control, and the next, you’re running off your feet, wondering where all the time went. If that’s the case, you’re not alone!

The good news is time management is something that can be learned! Like any other skill, you can learn to manage your time well, so you don’t feel like you’re being swallowed up by an endless to-do list.  

In today’s article, we talk about time management and everything there is to know about it, from the basic concept to how you can manage it with a few steps, strategies, and easy-to-use tools. Let’s get started!

This guide includes

What is time management?

A lot has been said and written about time management. But what is time management really? And how can you use it to improve your productivity at work and personal routines?

To put it simply, time management is the skill of organizing and planning tasks and activities to achieve your goals more effectively; it’s knowing what to do and when to do it. 

With effective time management, you learn how to: 

  • keep track of time
  • use time as effectively as possible
  • make the best use of the resources available
  • apply time management strategies for realizing why working on a task is essential
  • and avoiding time wasters.

If you master the ability to manage time, you’ll never feel you’ve lost control of your schedule again. You’ll have the right skill set to stay focused, organized, and meet every deadline.

time management - hour glass

Why is time management important?

There are two things about time management: 1) time is money; 2) if you are not managing your time, someone else will try to manage it for you at one point or another. 

It may be your team manager, project manager, or even a client, but the result will certainly not be what you want or need. 

For example, you don’t want to put yourself in a position where your manager spends the day micromanaging all the tasks assigned to you. 

That’s why learning how to manage time is crucial. Trying to be everywhere at once only leads to spreading yourself thin and a really poor time management system. 

You get no quality attention on any particular task because you don’t spend enough time understanding what that task or project entails to produce a great result. And the same applies to your personal life. 

So whether you’re at work or at home, mastering time management can help you take control of your time, improve your time management skills and increase your productivity because you save time. Let’s see how! 

For employees

Every employee has different career goals and priorities, but one thing is true for everyone: we all work with limited time and resources. 

So being able to manage time well is an essential soft skill for anyone looking to get ahead in their career or just trying to keep their heads above water during busy times.

Woman prioritizing work with time management

For project managers 

As a project manager, time management combined with a project management checklist can help you meet deadlines and manage resources more effectively. 

So, being able to manage tasks efficiently means less stress and more success on projects, which means you’re more likely to get a promotion and bonuses than those who can’t keep up with their workloads. 

Get to know more about the causes of stress at work and how to solve them.

In your personal life

Managing your time well means you’ll have enough time to do the things you love and matter most to you — whether that is spending more time with family or enjoying your favorite hobbies.

Time flies, we all know this, and good time management can go a long way to help you prioritize and focus on what is most important in your life. 

Time management skills: how to manage time in 5 steps

If you’re looking for new ways to manage your time better, you probably have a busy life. You probably have many responsibilities, and it can be challenging to manage your time effectively, let alone think about what time management tips to try. 

That’s why we’ve gathered these five time management steps here — they are key to a healthy work-life balance and can help you get more out of your day. Let’s check them out!

1. Analyze your habits

How much time do you spend on a task when working on it? How quickly can you successfully complete the task? Do you find yourself needing to rework the task multiple times because it wasn’t quite meeting your expectations?

Questions like these are important to see how you manage different tasks and projects. So take a moment to really get to know your day-to-day work habits and understand how much time you spend on each task.

2. Set realistic goals 

Be honest with yourself about what you can accomplish in a day and set realistic goals for how many tasks you want to complete each day, week, or month.

The best time management matrix is not going to do you much good if the goals you set are completely unrealistic. Also, frequently revisit your goals because they may change as a project moves forward. 

3. Divide large projects into small tasks

When working on large projects, it’s important to break them down into small tasks that can be completed within a few days or weeks.

That way, you can manage your own expectations and those of your team, so you stay motivated and keep momentum throughout the entire project. 

4. Set priorities

Make a list of everything you need to do during the week or month, along with deadlines and priorities. 

If you have ten things on the agenda for today, pick five that need to be done immediately and set aside time for those tasks. A successful time management strategy will depend on your ability to focus on your selected tasks.

5. Create a schedule

Make sure that each task has its own time slot on your calendar so that nothing gets lost along the way. 

Creating a schedule can help you deal with procrastination, impulse control (e.g. constant switching between tasks), and feeling overwhelmed by your daily to-do list.

Time management techniques

Time management techniques, also known as time management methods, vary widely depending on the nature of the task being considered; some methods work well for specific tasks but not others.

To know which method will work best for each task can take some time. Time management is not something that happens automatically – it takes practice. It’s a skill; like any other, it must be learned and honed with repetition. 

So it’s crucial that you find a productive time management technique that works for you and stick with it. Here are a few time management methods that you can try: 

  • Time tracking: you track how much time you’re spending on tasks with a time tracking app or software, among other tools 
  • Time blocking: you break your to-do list into time slots so you can focus on a task at a time; there are different time blocking techniques, such as task batching or time boxing.
  • The 80/20 rule: also known as Pareto’s principle, claims that nearly 80% of outcomes result from 20% of causes. So when looking at your list of priorities, you should look for the tasks that can make the most impact and work on those first.

If you want to keep reading about these methods, you might be interested in the best time management techniques post.

Time management tools 

The best way to improve your time management skills is to understand how you currently use your time to identify areas where you could be more productive. 

If you’re not sure how much time you’re spending on different tasks each day, there are several time management tools that you can try. Here are just a few: 

  • Time management app or software
  • Time tracker
  • Note-taking software
  • Calendar

Time management app or software

There are several time management apps and software available for both desktop and mobile devices. 

These apps typically include features such as to-do lists, calendars and time reports that show how much time you spend on different tasks each day; they can also have features to help you manage your finances and bill clients more accurately.

Many of these time management apps provide reminders about upcoming events, such as meetings and appointments, which makes it easier for people to plan their day around these events instead of having them disrupt theirs. 

For example, the Timeular app is a powerful time management tool that can help you accurately track the time you’re spending on each task and project by allowing you to set activities and tasks within the app and export customized reports. 

Calendar

Calendars are a great time management tool. For example, you can use a paper calendar or an online calendar app to help you keep track of repeating events. 

Some calendar apps also allow you to set up alarms or alerts that remind you when it’s time to start working on a task or attend an event. 

Time tracking cube to manage your time

Time tracker

A time tracker allows you to log your work hours, analyze your productivity and improve your efficiency. 

Time tracking is often used by professionals who bill clients by the hour, such as lawyers, marketing teams, and freelancers. 

This tool can help you and your team stay organized and ensure you’re charging clients accurately for the time you spend on projects.

A great example of this sort of tool is Timeular Tracker. The 8-sided time tracking dice is a powerful physical reminder that automatically tracks all tasks you’re working on so you can be more productive and bill more accurately. 

Note-taking software

Many people use note-taking software such as Evernote or OneNote to keep track of what they’re doing throughout the day. 

These programs allow you to create notes and easily add information about what you’ve discussed in a certain meeting or done throughout the day without having to switch between multiple apps. 

How to create a time management plan 

One detail people often forget when talking about time management is that time management is not just about time. 

You can have the best tips to save time, but if you don’t know how to manage your energy, focus, and priorities, whether at work or home, you’re done.

So it’s important to have a plan for how you’re going to spend your time. This plan should include: 

  • setting goals
  • prioritizing tasks
  • finding ways to work better with others
  • using your time wisely 
  • avoiding procrastination

Once you have your plan, you’ll know what needs to be done and how much time each task should take. 

As long as you stick to the plan, you’ll be able to meet all your deadlines and goals with ease.

TIP: If you need some extra help, get to know everything about how to create a time management plan, this is the guide you need.

A final note

If you find yourself constantly running behind on the many things that you need to get done throughout the day, a time management strategy and app is the thing you need.

A good time management system will help you achieve your goals, and more importantly, it will help you achieve them within a realistic time frame. 

If you think that you need help, you can pick one of the best time management courses and improve your skills. But remember — Time management is something you will always be improving upon. Some days will be great, others not so much. 

So give it a try, make the best of each day, and you’ll eventually find a time management system that helps you stay focused and be more productive!

FAQs

Who invented time management?

Frederick Winslow Taylor is usually considered to be the one who invented the concept of time management. In 1911, Taylor published his time management theory in his book The Principles of Scientific Management.  

Time management vs Priority management

There is a difference between Time management and Priority management. While Time Management involves scheduling and managing your daily activities, Priority management focuses on identifying what is important for you to do each day and working on those tasks first before everything else. 

Is time management productive?

Yes. The idea of time management is often linked to productivity because of the higher level of achievement that comes from using your time wisely. Time management helps you be more productive and get more done in less time, which means you’re getting more out of each day.

Does time management reduce stress?

Yes. Time management is a great way to reduce stress because it makes you focus on what is important. This means you won’t spend your time multitasking or doing things that aren’t a priority or helpful, which means less stress and more peace of mind. 

Is time management a goal?

Yes. Time management is considered a goal-oriented approach to organizing and managing time to accomplish desired goals, such as increased efficiency and productivity. Also, you can set mastering time management as your own personal goal. 

Is time management considered a soft skill?

Yes. Time management can be classified as a soft skill because it’s more than just knowing what to do; it’s about understanding how to do something efficiently and effectively. 

Is time management a weakness?

No, on the contrary. Time management is a strength because the positive impact it can have on your work and personal life is immense. It will help you be more productive and efficient, which can only be seen as a strength.

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