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What is Time Management?

Paulla Estes
Updated May 16, 2024
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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.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Paulla Estes
By Paulla Estes
Based in Maine, Paulla Estes is a freelance writer and website editor with a B.A. in English Literature from George Mason University. With over 15 years of experience in the field, Paulla appreciates the flexibility and consistency that comes with contributing to SmartCapitalMind. She relishes the opportunity to continuously learn new things while crafting informative and engaging articles for readers.
Discussion Comments
By nathaliecruz — On Aug 09, 2013

Time management refers to a range of tools, techniques and skills are used to manage time when implementing some specific projects, tasks and goals.

To manage our time efficiently, we have been using Replicon's online time recording software, where it helps to manage our precious time to handle projects and tasks more accurately.

By bythewell — On Nov 03, 2012

I'm a terrible procrastinator, but I've noticed that I almost always manage to get everything done on time. It's like I've got an internal sensor that keeps track of everything I need to do and when I need to finish it by and alerts me when I'm getting to close to the deadline.

It's a stressful way to live though and not very effective time management. I do think it's the way the average person sails through life.

By browncoat — On Nov 02, 2012

@Iluviaporos - Most schools have resources on teaching good time management techniques, whether those are brochures, or classes or just a counselor who can help you out.

The jump from high school to university can be extremely daunting, because a lot of students aren't used to having to manage their own time. Going to a class or otherwise getting help is the sensible thing to do.

By lluviaporos — On Nov 01, 2012

@anon21106 - Time management is very important for students, for two reasons. The first reason is that it's all too easy for students, particularly first year students, to get caught up in socializing and forget to study. They might not mean to neglect the work, but not realize how much time is needed to get it done.

The second reason is that they might get caught up in study and forget to socialize. High school and university are where you learn crucial social skills and make contacts that could last the rest of your life. Plus, frankly, you need to relax at some point as well.

With good time management skills, you can do both of those things, no problem. Without them, it's all too easy to slip into your comfort zone and neglect one or the other.

By CaronKincaid — On Jul 11, 2011

I like David Allen's three list system: today/tomorrow, this week/next week, sometime/maybe/never. Ensures you never forget that great idea, and allows you to move things up the priority list easily.

By anon112715 — On Sep 21, 2010

In my opinion the major problem is that we are hard to overcome our favors. We like to do things that is enjoyable and less stress while the hard things are important things that need to be done.

In order to manage time effectively, one has to know what can distract them, what they would like to do and have a list for those favorite things as rewards after finishing the must do things.

Remember that, we already get into doing "would like" to do things, it will be hard for us to stop. So, remind yourself of "later" rather than "never". --Emiko

By Francis Wade — On Jul 24, 2010

I think this might be misleading for some who think that time management is a one-time event, like a skill that one learns once and then forgets about forever. The fact is, as email grows and tools like smartphones come into use, they require new habits to use them effectively. At the moment, most people are teaching themselves, which is leading to habits like texting while driving.

By anon64418 — On Feb 07, 2010

I found this information helpful pertaining to time management. It defined time management and gave numerous examples Of how to be more efficient with your time. -Otts

By anon63360 — On Feb 01, 2010

if you could travel at the speed of light,you would not need time management at all. But do not give the secret out to everybody. Find a way to travel at C and keep it for yourself. maybe you can let me know.

By anon42209 — On Aug 19, 2009

what is importance of time management?

By anon41809 — On Aug 17, 2009

I can't ever find the time to do stuff that i want. Everything is all about school. I don't have time to ever get on the phone or hang with friends. I wish i did but there is no way for me to find time.

By anon39596 — On Aug 03, 2009

how can one make a studying time table?

By anon21106 — On Nov 10, 2008

can you help me by giving me that how time management is important to a student?

By bigmetal — On Feb 28, 2008

as a mom of 3 young kids, i highly recommend planning meals, and making a shopping list so you only have to go grocery shopping one to two times a week (sometimes i have to run out 3-4 times a week- a huge time killer!). also, stay off the phone! i find that i kill a lot of time on the phone with girlfriends. although i get a lot of other stuff done while i'm chatting, it does affect my efficiency. another tip for moms is to break household cleaning up into daily chores so you're not running around like crazy trying to get stuff done.

Paulla Estes
Paulla Estes
Based in Maine, Paulla Estes is a freelance writer and website editor with a B.A. in English Literature from George...
Learn more
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