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Working Towards Better Time Management

Time is a valuable resource. Each day, we have a limited number of minutes to spend as we choose. This has always been true. As technology becomes more intertwined with the classroom and the workplace, the expectations on our time increase. It can sometimes feel as if we fall behind if we are not constantly working to keep up. This can cause a great deal of stress, but there are things that we can do to alleviate that stress. One of those things is learning to be good managers of our time.

In addition to stress reduction, there are a number of benefits to those who can manage their time well. It often serves us to organize our lives, and part of that is keeping our time organized. Good time management means making the best use of our time, allowing us to get more done in less time, which means more time spent doing what provides value in our lives. This, in turn, increases our well-being and happiness.

So how does one go about managing their time effectively? It is not just a matter of quick tips or downloading the best applications, although those can both help. Time management is about developing new habits and rethinking our approach to scheduling. There are a number of approaches we can take that will improve outcomes. One publication breaks time management into three distinct skills: awareness, arrangement, and adaptation [1].

Of these three skills, arrangement is the one that comes to mind most readily when we think about time management. Arrangement is the skill that allows us to set and prioritize goals and tasks. Without the other two, however, arrangement can only get us so far. Awareness is what we use to think realistically about the time that is available to us and appreciate that it is a limited resource. The last skill is adaptation. Adaptation takes a live look at the way we are using our time to adjust as we face interruptions and changing priorities. If we truly want to be in control of our time, then we need to develop all three of these skills [2].

Developing our awareness skills means getting to know ourselves better. It means finding our peak performance times to maximize how effective and efficient we are. It also means we need to self-assess our performance to find potential areas of adjustment to further boost performance [3].

Arrangement is all about figuring out what we need to do and the best way to do it. The first step is to get a grasp of what needs to be done, followed by ranking those tasks by order of importance. It is also helpful when doing this to estimate the amount of time that will be spent on each task so that we can arrange our days around the tasks that need to be done [4].

Lastly is adaptation, which assesses our performance on the go to determine what needs to be adjusted in order for us to reach our goals. This is a skill that is developed through practice. When we learn adaptation, we can look at what we have accomplished so far in contrast to the time we have left and the tasks still on our agenda and amend our schedule to do what needs to be done [5].

All of these skills together are what allow us to manage our time well. If we want to be time management savvy, we need to make an effort in each area over time. That does not mean there is nothing I can offer for people eager for developing their time management skills immediately. While I have written that there are no quick fixes, there are tips that you can adopt when working on your next project.

The first tip is to keep your space organized. If the option is available to you, you will want to clear your desk of anything that is not necessary for the current task. This will reduce distractions and allow you to focus better on the task at hand [6].

Another way to improve your ability to manage time effectively is to take regular breaks. Breaks allow you to recenter your focus and stay motivated. However, too many breaks will break your focus and divert attention from the task at hand. It is about finding a balance between the two.

The last tip I will offer is to start your day by thinking of what you want to accomplish that day and making note of it. This will make you accountable to yourself for what you have accomplished at the end of the day, and it will allow you to get a better idea of what you can accomplish in a given time. Be sure that your goals are achievable and specific, otherwise they will be meaningless.

If you keep in mind the above three tips while working on the three skills mentioned earlier, you should see improvement in your ability to manage time. Everyone is different, so you might find different strategies that work for you, but we all have the potential to become proficient at time management.

[1] Erich C. Dierdorff, “Time Management Is About More Than Life Hacks” (29 January 2020), Harvard Business Review, online <>.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Prachi Juneja, “Time Management Techniques”, Management Study Guide, online: <>.

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