Time management is the art of arranging, organizing, scheduling, and budgeting one’s time for the purpose of generating more effective work and productivity. There are an abundance of books, classes, workshops, day-planners, and seminars on this skill which teach individuals and corporations how to be more organized and more productive. Efficient management of time has become crucial in recent years thanks to the 24/7, busy world in which we live.
Time management is important for everyone. While books and seminars often place their focus on business leaders and corporations, this skill is also crucial for students, teachers, factory workers, professionals, and home makers. Time management is perhaps most essential for the person who owns his or her own business or who runs a business out of the home. Managing work and home responsibilities under the same roof takes a special type of management.
An important aspect of time management is planning ahead. Sometimes, success involves putting in more time at the outset in order to reorganize one’s life. Though many books and teachings differ in their suggestions, most agree the first step in efficient time management is to organize the workspace or home. Even if one's schedule is well-ordered, but the office and filing system are a disaster, time will be wasted trying to work efficiently in a disorderly place.
After cleaning, purging, and reorganizing the home or office, the next step in honing this skill is to look at all the activities one participates in during a week. Every last detail should be written down, including the time it takes to shower, dress, commute, attend meetings, make phone calls, clean the house, cook dinner, pick up the children from school, take them to after-school activities, and eat meals. Also include time for entertainment or exercise, such as driving to the gym, going for a walk, watching television, or surfing the Internet.
Often, when individuals write down every last activity, they find that there is very little time left for sleeping. The end result is that many activities must be pared down, eliminated, consolidated, or delegated. Prioritizing activities on a scale of one to three – one being the most important and three being the least – can help with this task.
Lastly, good time management involves keeping a schedule of the tasks and activities that have been deemed important. Keeping a calendar or daily planner is helpful to stay on task, but self-discipline is also required. The most efficient to-do list in the world will not help someone who does not look at or follow his own daily planner.
Of course, the other side of the argument is to remember to live. Get on top of your time management, get organized, and stay on task, but live your life. Schedule some time off every day and at least one day off each week. Be organized, but do not be a slave to time.