What is Time Management?
Time Management Definition
Time management is the practice of being productive by effectively managing how time is spent each day. Yet, many leaders and entrepreneurs still struggle to protect their most important resource.
For example, in Maui Mastermind’s 2017 in-depth survey on time management, executives and business owners worked an average of 72 hours per week. However, they wasted a total of 21.8 hours a week on “low-value and no-value activities [which] accounted for more than 30% of their workweeks.” Imagine having 22 extra hours dedicated to your hobbies, your family, or driving your business growth. With this information in mind, time management tools can give a person a significant part of their life back.
So, what prevents high performers from being more effective and productive with their time? Find out how business professionals can start making the most of each day with these practical time management skills and tips.
Top Time Management Skills and Tips
1. Schedule Productive Times
Effective leadership requires strategizing, project management, connecting with team leaders, and planning the future of the company and its people. Without making time for specified “productive days,” distractions, procrastination, and lost time quickly add up. In her research on time management skills, Gloria Mark, an information scientist at the University of California discovered it takes nearly 30 minutes to recover from a single interruption. When multiple interruptions happen every hour, time spent being productive diminishes due to lack of focus.
The Eisenhower Matrix
The Eisenhower Matrix, a time management tip developed by five-star general and U.S. president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, provides a straightforward approach to productive days. This strategy grounded in essentialism helps increase efficiency by organizing and prioritizing tasks. Assign work into one of the following four quadrants:
- Do first—urgent and most important tasks
- Schedule—non-urgent but requires completion
- Delegate—urgent but assignable
- Eliminate—non-essential or unnecessary
After trying this time management tip, help increase the team’s efficiency by delegating jobs employees can start addressing immediately. Next, schedule objectives onto the calendar that will need your complete attention in the future. Finally, block off time (at least several hours) during the week for finishing jobs tagged with the highest level of importance. Productivity requires concentrated focus so create an environment with limited disturbances—turn off emails, texts, and phone calls.
2. Time Blocking
One of the most important time management skills is time blocking. This often begins with prioritizing work. With only so much time in the day, prioritizing helps leaders manage saying “no.” For example, Kevin Kruse, author of 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management, advises: “Don’t let your calendar fill up randomly by accepting every request that comes your way. You should first get clear on your life and career priorities and pre-schedule sacred time-blocks for these items.”
Scheduling blocks of time dedicated to uninterrupted focus on one particular task helps people get into the flow of doing “deep work.” Cal Newport, the author of Deep Work, defines this skill as, “The ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task,” thus enabling people to “master complicated information and produce better results in less time.”
3. Plan and Prepare for Growth
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Scheduling time to prepare equips everyone for any upcoming challenges and lessens the need to operate defensively. Those in leadership need to lay out a clear roadmap through preparation and planning. Think of the CEO of an organization as the coach of a football team. Just like in business, players without an offensive strategy from the head leader find themselves playing a reactionary game.
While set planning days can seem uninspiring or too structured, in reality, they provide a good opportunity for innovative thinking. Often, stepping outside of the office and working in a creatively inspiring place for the day helps people get out of this mentality. Approaching planning with a positive perspective allows room for effective goal setting. This time management skill helps leaders evaluate their priorities and lay out an overall strategy for the company.
When planning growth, consider:
- Strategies for adaptation and innovation
- Ways in which growth affects current employees and customers
- Phases for launching new objectives
- Creating new roles within the company
- Steps for new hires
- Cultivating positive team culture
- Measures for increasing impact on customers’ lives
Remember, growth is a significant transitionary period for those working within the organization. Involving leaders throughout the company, creating buy-in for new initiatives, and working together on a plan for the future helps these efforts succeed. Being in business is an ever-changing landscape, but with time management skills dedicated to planning, change can feel seamless.
4. Balance Positives and Negatives
Being prepared involves discussing what’s working and what no longer serves employees and customers. When describing how top performers prepare, writer Jeff Haden explains in an article for Inc.com, “First, they focus on the mistakes and figure out, in detail, how they will react to them. [In] Phase Two, [they talk] about everything going exactly right . . . Many top performers (Steve Jobs and Peyton Manning jump to mind) embody this approach.” This helps you manage what to leave behind and what to concentrate on in order to move forward.
5. Press Pause
Having good time management also means scheduling time for resting and recharging. Disregarding the need for regular “pause days”—Saturdays, Sundays, or vacation time—increases the likelihood of burnout and exhaustion. Mindfully reserving time for restoration keeps leaders acting within the best interest of the company and its people. For example, spending a few hours per week practicing hobbies such as golfing, cycling, hiking, or reading helps give the mind and body rest. Effective time management creates more time to spend with family and friends. When a person’s life revolves around their business 24/7, it affects the quality of care they put into the company.
6. Restore Energy Expended
The human brain doesn’t have the skills to constantly yield energy. In fact, constant thinking actually generates fatigue. “Regular refueling—input—is a prerequisite for quality output, because the brain is an energy machine, consuming 20 percent of the body’s calories . . . Burning up mental resources without replacing them leads to stress, burnout, and poor performance,” provides writer Joe Robinson for Entrepreneur.
While taking time off helps alleviate stress and restores a person’s performance abilities, the U.S. Travel Association reports that Americans left 768 million vacation days on the table during 2018. This was almost a 10 percent increase from the year before. Practicing effective time management doesn’t mean working more hours. During planning time, write out important goals and include refuel incentives for the achievement of those goals. For example, this might include a week-long retreat if the company meets its yearly revenue goals before the end of the year.
Showing up in the right frame of mind for effectively interacting and impacting others’ lives benefits the entire company. Whether it’s a quick workout, lunch away from the office, a free Saturday, or a two-week vacation, try to manage including time for rest into your calendar.
7. Practice Priority Management
Effective leaders have well-rounded, multi-faceted lives. Taking work and important personal priorities into account creates good balance. With only 168 hours in every week, business owners and executives must decide what requires their time and what doesn’t. Anything that’s a personal or professional objective must be considered during the prioritization process.
Start prioritizing by:
- Writing down how much time is spent on loved ones, career goals, life mission, finances, personal fulfillment, hobbies and aspirations.
- Analyzing whether or not this amount of timelines up with your priorities.
- Making time management adjustments for the things you should avoid spending too much time on.
8. Learn To Say “No”
Time management is time protection. Ultimately, a person must decide what priorities take precedence and how to structure time for focusing on them. Saying “no” to some things clears the way for saying “yes” to what matters most. Daniel DiGriz, an entrepreneur, solidifies this point in a Forbes article: “When everything is a priority, nothing has priority. When everything is urgent, all things are equally unimportant.”
One of the classic time management skills is to list out your priorities. After this, shorten the list by 80 percent. This will tell you exactly what is important. Then, you can confidently pencil time for these top priorities into the schedule.
Plan Next Week Now
The time management skills and tips above help professionals organize and stick to a productive schedule. Yet, making managing your time a habit requires consistent upkeep. Thankfully, modern-day technology offers a helping hand with this. To check out the best time management apps, review the complete list below: