You may have experienced the surprise of looking at the office clock, only to realize that you were already halfway through the workday (and had yet to make progress on your goals!). Or, you’ve likely heard the complaint that there aren’t enough hours in the day.
Yet everyone has the same number of hours in the day. Reaching your professional or personal goals isn’t about having more time—it’s about making the most of the time available.
And that’s what time management is all about. Today, you’ll learn what time management is and how effective time management can help you accomplish more in your day. You’ll then learn four best practices for taking control of your time.
Time management is a person’s ability to plan and control how they spend their time to achieve their goals. Effective time management means that you’re able to allocate your time in a way that aligns with your needs, values, and ambitions. In short, it means you’re in control of where your time is going.
While we will mostly focus on time management for your professional life, be aware that time management applies to your personal life, too. For example, it can describe how you allocate your time to your social life, family responsibilities, health, and personal hobbies, interests, or goals.
Learning how to manage your time effectively can offer significant personal and professional advantages. Here are just a few of the benefits of effective time management:
Developing strong time management skills can make or break your personal and professional success. But what’s involved in effective time management? Here’s an overview of four best practices you can use to take control of your time.
One of the easiest ways that you can manage your time better is to analyze how you’re using it. Track how you spend your time to identify your biggest time-wasters or “time-stealers” throughout the day. Look for opportunities to save or redistribute your time to align with your interests, goals, and values.
The second best practice is to prioritize. You have to know your priorities before you can know how to make the best use of your time. Which responsibilities are most important to you? Which tasks or projects are most valuable to your team and company? And which activities could be eliminated or postponed? Rank your activities by urgency and importance.
Once you know your priorities, you can then set goals for accomplishing them. Setting goals is a best practice in time management because it helps you stay focused throughout the day or week. Clear expectations and milestones can provide structure and keep you on track.
Finally, schedule your time using a calendar or planner. Commit to your goals by blocking out the necessary time on your calendar, just as you would for an important meeting or appointment.
A Continual Process
Time management is a continual process—not a one-time event. The most successful employees make a regular habit of analyzing their time, prioritizing their tasks, setting goals, and creating a schedule for their day or week.