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Do you wonder what separates successful people from ordinary ones?
The answer is knowing how to manage your time well.
Many successful people have different approaches that got them to where they are today. But the one thing they have in common is that they know how to juggle high-level projects and make sure they spend the bulk of their time on the tasks that are most conducive to their success.
You may be thinking, “Why should I spend extra time planning how to spend my time if I’m already rushing through the day?”
I’m glad you asked.
If you’re like me, feeling the pressure of running out of time on anything is a huge source of stress that you wish you could avoid as much as possible. In this article, we’ll help you do that by defining time management and why it’s an important skill for you to master to gain personal success.
What is Time Management?
Time management refers to how you choose to spend your waking hours to maximize your productivity and accomplish your goals.
With the right time-management skills, life becomes easier. You know the difference between working hard and working smart, and would often choose the latter. You get more things done in less time, or even while under time constraints. This is the secret of successful people.
People who cannot manage their time properly produce low-quality work and are often more stressed, as they’re constantly under pressure. Think about that person you know who always has piles of work in front of them and multiple things going on at once. While this person appears to be very busy, you can also assume that the work they’re doing isn’t very effective since they’re often in a frenzy.
When there are a variety of things calling our attention at once, we turn to multi-tasking to try to get it all done, which doesn’t produce good results. So how do some people get so much more accomplished in 24 hours than others?
With different apps, processes, and principles available from different sources, you might think this is what time management is all about – putting your to-dos in calendars and planners in order to keep track of them.
However, it’s more than that. Time management is actually about the following things:
A large part of effective time management is being able to identify your most important tasks and spending a sufficient amount of time each day working on them. People are often reactionary when it comes to daily tasks. Their attention gets caught up by the loudest things because these are the ones they notice immediately, without stopping to see if it is urgent and/or important. This is what leads people to check on social media and get caught up in their newsfeeds each time they hear their phone’s notification.
Learn how to rank your tasks every day. Ask yourself what consequences could occur if you don’t get something done? Avoiding consequences is often a good motivator and will create a sense of urgency. Once you know what is low on your list of priorities, make sure that you don’t let that task take up your time unintentionally during the day.
Time management is about being about to designate time to complete everything that you need to do, and assigning the 24 hours you have every day to the right task. If you can effectively pair up your time and the things on your to-do list, you will be able to operate at the foundational level of success. How you spend your day is up to you, whether you’re working on a project or you’re watching television all day, you’re responsible for designating your time wisely.
Time management doesn’t take a huge amount of effort, but it does require discipline. Once you’re able to match the right task with the right time to maximize your performance, you need to stick to the plan.
Work toward making your plan happen each day with limited interruptions to perfect your time management skills. Channel your energy and attention to the appropriate places as evidenced by what has been effective for you in the past. Stay on track with your daily schedule, and make it clear to those around you that you have a set amount of time to do the task at hand if you’re working in a group at any point.
5 Reasons Why Time Management is Important
If you aren’t fully clear on why time management is important, you probably won’t have the motivation that is needed to change your ways. Here are 5 reasons why it’s important and beneficial to learn how to manage your time well.
1. Time Management Increases Your Productivity and Efficiency
Think about everything that you somehow get accomplished when a deadline is nearing. Now think about how much higher the quality of your work could be if you weren’t pushed to cut corners with a looming deadline. If you plan your time wisely, you won’t be rushing through it, but with smaller deadlines, you will still feel the motivation to make progress. This pressing motivation coupled with the allowance of a reasonable pace will help you create impressive work.
2. You Gain a Sense of Fulfillment
Once your time management efforts start to pay off in the form of accomplishments, you will feel more fulfilled by your performance. Effective time management skills will also help you lead a more fulfilling life, as you will have more time to explore various opportunities that you let pass you by in the past.
If you’re constantly rushing from one project to the next, you never get the chance to do the things that you may find to be truly rewarding outside of work, such as volunteering or helping someone in need. These tasks are innately fulfilling and can add enrichment to your life. Whatever you do that you enjoy and believe is important is time well spent.
3. You Relieve Stress
Managing your time can have a direct impact on your stress level. You will face fewer surprises, reduce your tight deadlines, and eliminate your frequent rushing from one task to the next.
If you feel like you’re constantly busy but get little accomplished, or you’re never able to complete your work, you’re probably experiencing stress. Time management skills can help you gain a sense of control over your time, which will help reduce this pressure. As you improve your ability to meet your deadlines, you will be better equipped to stay calm while you’re working. When you can manage your time well, you gain some peace of mind.
4. It Improves Self-Discipline
If you are good at managing your time, you’re probably also very self-disciplined and tend to stay on track with your deadlines and goals. Having this sense of self-discipline benefits you in every area of your life, from your health to your relationships to your career. The more you practice time management, the better your sense of self-discipline will become, which will increase your success at attaining goals in any area of your life.
5. Improves Your Ability to Make Decisions
Having good time management skills helps reduce stress and allows you to set aside enough time each night to get a proper amount of sleep. Getting ample rest has a strong impact on the quality of your decisions and can impact almost every area of your life, both personal and professional. By having effective time management skills, you can refrain from making the poor decisions that you could make during periods of stress, pressure, and fatigue.
Having sufficient time to make decisions will also allow you to be more organized and experience fewer mistakes. The more you forget details or do things incorrectly, the more work you’re creating for yourself. When you’re able to make good decisions in the first place, you can eliminate the need to do a task more than once.
Now that you know the benefits of being able to manage your time well, let’s look at what you can do to get started working on this important skill.
How to Get Started with Time Management
One of the first things you will want to do is figure out where you’re losing time. Keep track of everything you do for a week and then look back to see where a lot of your time was wasted. Check out these articles on wasting time and what you can do to make better use of your waking hours:
Next, you need to make sure that you’re prioritizing your tasks in a way that allows you to spend your time on the few things that will have the greatest results or help you make the most progress toward your ultimate goal. Here are some articles on prioritizing your work and figuring out where you should spend the bulk of your time and efforts:
You also need to know when to stop. Putting time limits on your work will help you compartmentalize tasks and prevent you from allowing one project to take over all of your time. These articles address how to put time constraints on your work:
For more information on productivity, check out these books and podcasts:
Final Thoughts on the Importance of Time Management
To answer the original question of why you should take the time to manage your time, the truth is, time management won’t take your time, it will make time for you. It will allow you to do things with less effort so you can get tasks done faster.
And, by making the best use of your time, you will undoubtedly notice the positive cycle you’re creating in your life. Your work performance will improve, you will be faced with more opportunities, and you will have more free time to spend doing leisure activities. Having proper time management skills will dramatically improve every area of your life, you just need to start!
If you want to be successful in your career and in other aspects of your life, it is essential to know how to make the best use of your time. Use the resources and tips laid out in this article to improve your ability to make the most constructive decisions for how to spend your time.
To get started, examine the current way you spend your your time by using these time audit worksheets.
Finally, if you want to level up your productivity and time management skills, then watch this free video about the 9 productivity habits you can build at work.
Connie Stemmle is a professional editor, freelance writer and ghostwriter. She holds a BS in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her 4-year-old daughter, running, or making efforts in her community to promote social justice.