Time Management - An overview


By

Gayathri M
Faculty
Department of Management Studies
AMC Engineering College
Bangalore
 


ABSTRACT

Generally, time management refers to the development of processes and tools that increase efficiency and productivity. In business, time management has morphed into everything from methodologies such as Enterprise Resource Planning through consultant services such as Professional Organizers.

When we think of time management, however, we tend to think of personal time management, loosely defined as managing our time to waste less time on doing the things we have to do so we have more time to do the things we want to do.

Therefore, time management is often thought of or presented as a set of time management skills; the theory is that once we master the time management skills, we'll be more organized, efficient, and happier. Personal time management skills include Goal setting, planning, prioritizing, decision-making, delegating, and scheduling.

Time management is a set of principles, practices, skills, tools, and systems working together to help you get more value out of your time with the aim of improving the quality of your life. The important point is that time management is not necessarily about getting lots of stuff done, because much more important than that is making sure that you are working on the right things, the things that truly need to be done.

INTRODUCTION

Smart time managers know that there is much more to do than anyone could possibly accomplish. So instead of trying to do it all, smart time managers are very picky about how they spend their time.

Some of the recent general arguments related to "time" and "management" point out that the term "time management" is misleading and that the concept should actually imply that it is "the management of our own activities, to make sure that they are accomplished within the available or allocated time, which is an unmanageable continuous resource".

Time management literature paraphrased: "Get Organized" - paperwork and task triage "Protect Your Time" - insulate, isolate, delegate "set gravitational goals" - that attract actions automatically "Achieve through Goal management Goal Focus" – motivational emphasis.

"Work in Priority Order" - set goals and prioritize
"Use Magical Tools to Get More Out of Your Time" - depends on when written
"Master the Skills of Time Management"
"Go with the Flow" - natural rhythms, Eastern philosophy
"Recover from Bad Time Habits" – recovery from underlying psychological problems,
e.g. procrastination

If you become a good time manager, you'll not only get a lot more done in less time, but you'll feel more relaxed, focused and in control of your life.

You'll be able to use your time in a much more balanced and effective way, and you'll be able to make time for the people and activities that you love. When you get to the end of a busy day, you'll feel a strong sense of accomplishment from everything that you actually got done.

Improving your time management skills can even help you get better results by doing less work, because you're focusing on the things that really matter rather than all the low-priority busywork that just keeps you busy.

If you don't learn how to manage your time well, you'll be far less productive than you could be and you'll get a lot less done. You'll also feel much more stressed and overwhelmed, and you'll struggle to find time to spend with the people you care about and to do the things you enjoy.

Like any other skill, you can learn time management the easy way or you can learn it the hard way.

Developing time management skills is a journey that may begin with this Guide, but needs practice and other guidance along the way. One goal is to help yourself become aware of how you use your time as one resource in organizing, prioritizing, and succeeding in your studies in the context of competing activities of friends, work, family, etc.

TIME MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES

Weekly reviews

Weekly reviews and updates are also an important strategy.  Each week, like a Sunday night, review your assignments, your notes, and your calendar. Be mindful that as deadlines and exams approach, your weekly routine must adapt to them! 

Prioritize your assignments

When studying, get in the habit of beginning with the most difficult subject or task.  You'll be fresh, and have more energy to take them on when you are at your best.  For more difficult courses of study, try to be flexible:  for example, build in "reaction time" when you can get feedback on assignments before they are due.  

Achieve "stage one"--get something done

The Chinese adage of the longest journey starting with a single step has a couple of meanings:  First, you launch the project!  Second, by starting, you may realize that there are some things you have not planned for in your process. Details of an assignment are not always evident until you begin the assignment.  Another adage is that "perfection is the enemy of good", especially when it prevents you from starting! Given that you build in review, roughly draft your idea and get going!  You will have time to edit and develop later.

Postpone unnecessary activities until the work is done!

Postpone tasks or routines that can be put off until your organization work is finished. This can be the most difficult challenge of time management.  As learners we always meet unexpected opportunities that look appealing, and then result in poor performance on a production, or in preparation for a task. Distracting activities will be more enjoyable later without the pressure of the production. Hanging over your head.  Think in terms of pride of accomplishment. Instead of saying "no" learn to say "later".

Identify resources to help you

Are there tutors?  An "expert friend"? Have you tried a keyword search on the Internet to get better explanations?  Are there specialists in the library that can point you to resources?  What about professionals and professional organizations.  Using outside resources can save you time and energy, and solve problems.

Use your free time wisely

Think of times when you can study "bits" as when walking, riding the bus, etc.  Perhaps you've got music to listen to for your course in music appreciation, or drills in language learning?  If you are walking or biking to school, when best to listen? Perhaps you are in a line waiting?  Perfect for routine tasks like flash cards, or if you can concentrate, to read or review a chapter.  The bottom line is to put your time to good use.

Review notes and readings just before class

This may prompt a question or two about something you don't quite understand, to ask about in class, or after.  It also demonstrates to your teacher that you are interested and have prepared.

How would you make time to review? Is there free time you can use?

Review lecture notes just after class

Then review lecture material immediately after class.  The first 24 hours are critical.  Forgetting is greatest within 24 hours without review! How would you do this? Is there free time you can use?

Review your ten applications above. Select one, and develop a new study habit. Try something you have a good chance of following through and accomplishing.  Nothing succeeds like a first successful try!  Develop criteria for adjusting your schedule to meet both your academic and non-academic needs

Effective aids

Create a simple "To Do" list

This simple program will help you identify a few items, the reason for doing them, a timeline for getting them done, and then printing this simple list and posting it for reminders.

Long term planner

Use a monthly chart so that you can plan ahead. Long term planners will also serve as a reminder to constructively plan time for you.

Write things down

A common time management mistake is to try to use your memory to keep track of too many details leading to information overload. Using a to-do list to write things down is a great way to take control of your projects and tasks and keep you organized.

Prioritize your list

Prioritizing your to-do list helps you focus and spend more of your time on the things that really matter to you. Rate your tasks into categories using the ABCD prioritization system described in the time management course.

Plan your week

Spend some time at the beginning of each week to plan your schedule. Taking the extra time to do this will help increase your productivity and balance your important long-term projects with your more urgent tasks. All you need is fifteen to thirty minutes each week for your planning session.

Learn to say no

Many people become overloaded with too much work because they over commit; they say yes when they really should be saying no. Learn to say no to low priority requests and you will free up time to spend on things that are more important.

Use a time management system

Using a time management system can help you keep track of everything that you need to do, organize and prioritize your work, and develop sound plans to complete it. An integrated system is like glue that holds all the best time management practices together.

Avoid "efficiency traps"

Being efficient doesn't necessarily mean that you are being productive. Avoid taking on tasks that you can do with efficiency that don't need to be done at all. Just because you are busy and getting things done doesn't mean you are actually accomplishing anything significant.

TECHNIQUES FOR SETTING PRIORITIES

ABC analysis

A technique that has been used in business management for a long time is the categorization of large data into groups. These groups are often marked A, B, and C—hence the name. Activities are ranked upon these general criteria:

A – Tasks that are perceived as being urgent and important.
B – Tasks those are important but not urgent.
C – Tasks those are neither urgent nor important.

Each group is then rank-ordered in priority. To further refine priority, some individuals choose to then force-rank all "B" items as either "A" or "C". ABC analysis can incorporate more than three groups. ABC analysis is frequently combined with Pareto analysis.

Pareto analysis

This is the idea that 80% of tasks can be completed in 20% of the disposable time. The remaining 20% of tasks will take up 80% of the time. This principle is used to sort tasks into two parts. According to this form of Pareto analysis it is recommended that tasks that fall into the first category be assigned a higher priority.

The 80-20-rule can also be applied to increase productivity: it is assumed that 80% of the productivity can be achieved by doing 20% of the tasks. If productivity is the aim of time management, then these tasks should be prioritized higher.

Conclusion

The important point is that time management is not necessarily about getting lots of stuff done, because much more important than that is making sure that you are working on the right things, the things that truly need to be done. Time management is sometimes difficult for some people to manage. Some seem unable to correctly estimate how much time they will need to complete a task in a sufficient time. They choose to focus and spend their time doing a few vital projects that will really make a difference, rather than spending all their time doing many trivial things that don't really matter all that much.

References

  • Human Resource & personnel management, K. Aswathappa Sulthan Chand and Son, 1999.
  • Time Management, Marshal J. Cook, Gopsons Papers Ltd., Noida.
  • Manage Your Time, Julie Ann Amos, Jaico Publication House.

Websites

  • www.timemanagement-hurdle.com
  • www.timemanagement_management_guide.com
  • www.timemanagementtechniques.net
     


Gayathri M
Faculty
Department of Management Studies
AMC Engineering College
Bangalore
 

Source: E-mail March 30, 2012

          

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