Main themes of time managementThe major themes arising from the literature on time management include the following:
Time management has been considered to be a subset of different concepts such as:
Professor Stephen C. Smith (sociologist)|Stephen Smith, of BYUI, is among recent sociologists that have shown that the way workers view time is connected to social issues such as the institution of family, gender roles, and the amount of labor by the individual.*In recent years, several authors have discussed time management as applied to the issue of digital information overload, in particular, Tim ferriss|Tim Ferriss with "The 4 hour workweek",* and Stefania Lucchetti with "The Principle of Relevance"*Stephen Covey|Stephen R. Covey has offered a categorization scheme for the time management approaches that he reviewed:
Creating an effective environmentSome time management literature stresses tasks related to the creation of an environment conducive to real effectiveness. These strategies include principles such as -
Writers on creating an environment for effectiveness refer to issues such as the benefit of a tidy office or home to unleashing creativity, and the need to protect "prime time". Literature also focuses on overcoming chronic psychological issues such as procrastination.
Excessive and chronic inability to manage time effectively may be a result of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder|Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Attention Deficit Disorder|Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Diagnostic criteria include a sense of underachievement, difficulty getting organized, trouble getting started, many projects going simultaneously and trouble with follow-through.* Some authors focus on the prefrontal cortex which is the most recently evolved part of the brain. It controls the functions of attention span, impulse control, organization, learning from experience and self-monitoring, among others. Some authors argue that changing the way the prefrontal cortex works is possible and offers a solution.*
Setting priorities and goalsTime management strategies are often associated with the recommendation to set personal goals. The literature stresses themes such as -
These goals are recorded and may be broken down into a project management|project, an action plan, or a simple task list. For individual tasks or for goals, an importance rating may be established, deadlines may be set, and priorities assigned. This process results in a plan with a task list or a schedule or calendar of activities. Authors may recommend a daily, weekly, monthly or other planning periods associated with different scope of planning or review. This is done in various ways, as follows.
ABC analysisA technique that has been used in business management for a long time is the categorization of large data into groups. These groups are often marked A, B, and C—hence the name. Activities are ranked upon these general criteria:
Pareto analysisThis is the idea that 80% of tasks can be completed in 20% of the disposable time. The remaining 20% of tasks will take up 80% of the time. This principle is used to sort tasks into two parts. According to this form of Pareto analysis it is recommended that tasks that fall into the first category be assigned a higher priority.
The Pareto principle|80-20-rule can also be applied to increase productivity: it is assumed that 80% of the productivity can be achieved by doing 20% of the tasks. Similarly, 80% of results can be attributed to 20% of activity.* If productivity is the aim of time management, then these tasks should be prioritized higher.
It depends on the method adopted to complete the task. There is always a simpler and easier way to complete the task. If one uses a complex way, it will be time consuming. So, one should always try to find out the alternate ways to complete each task.
The Eisenhower MethodAll tasks are evaluated using the criteria important/unimportant and urgent/not urgent and put in Priority Matrix|according quadrants. Tasks in unimportant/not urgent are dropped, tasks in important/urgent are done immediately and personally, tasks in unimportant/urgent are delegated and tasks in important/not urgent get an end date and are done personally. This method is said to have been used by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and is outlined in a quote attributed to him: What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.
POSEC methodPOSEC is an acronym for Prioritize by Organizing, Streamlining, Economizing and Contributing.
The method dictates a template which emphasizes an average individual's immediate sense of emotional and monetary security. It suggests that by attending to one's personal responsibilities first, an individual is better positioned to shoulder collective responsibilities.
Inherent in the acronym is a hierarchy of self-realization which mirrors Abraham Maslow's Maslow's hierarchy of needs|"Hierarchy of needs".
#Prioritize - Your time and define your life by goals. #Organizing - Things you have to accomplish regularly to be successful. (Family and Finances) #Streamlining - Things you may not like to do, but must do. (Work and Chores) #Economizing - Things you should do or may even like to do, but they're not pressingly urgent. (Pastimes and Socializing) #Contributing - By paying attention to the few remaining things that make a difference. (Social Obligations).
Implementing goalsTime management literature in relation to implementation of goals frequently centres on the creation and management of task lists.
There are also time management approaches that emphasise the need for more focused and simple implementation including the approach of "Going with the Flow" - natural rhythms, Eastern philosophy. More unconventional time usage techniques, such as those discussed in "Where Did Time Fly,"* include concepts that can be paraphrased as "Less is More," which de-emphasizes the importance of squeezing every minute of one's time, as suggested in traditional time management schemes.
A task list (also to-do list or things-to-do) is a list of Task (project management)|tasks to be completed, such as chores or steps toward completing a project. It is an inventory tool which serves as an alternative or supplement to memory.
Task lists are used in self-management, grocery lists, management|business management, project management, and software development. It may involve more than one list.
When one of the items on a task list is accomplished, the task is checkmark|checked or crossed off. The traditional method is to write these on a piece of paper with a pen or pencil, usually on a note pad or clip-board. Task lists can also have the form of paper or software checklists.
Writer Julie Morgenstern suggests "do's and don'ts" of time management that include:
Task list organizationTask lists are often tiered. The simplest tiered system includes a general to-do list (or task-holding file) to record all the tasks the person needs to accomplish, and a daily to-do list which is created each day by transferring tasks from the general to-do list.*
Task lists are often prioritized:
Software applicationsModern task list software application|applications may have built-in task hierarchy (tasks are composed of subtasks which again may contain subtasks),* may support multiple methods of filtering and ordering the list of tasks, and may allow one to associate arbitrarily long notes for each task.
In contrast to the concept of allowing the person to use multiple filtering methods, at least one new software product additionally contains a mode where the software will attempt to dynamically determine the best tasks for any given moment.*Many of the software products for time management support multiple users. It allows the person to give tasks to other users and use the software for communication*In law firms, law practice management software may also assist in time management.
Task list applications may be thought of as lightweight personal information manager or project management software.
Time Management SystemsTime management systems often include a time clock or web based application used to track an employee's work hours. Time management systems give employers insights into their workforce, allowing them to see, plan and manage employees' time. Doing so allows employers to control labor costs and increase productivity. A time management system automates processes, which eliminates paper work and tedious tasks.
Elimination of non-prioritiesTime management also covers how to eliminate tasks that do not provide the individual or organization value.
According to Sandberg,* task lists "aren't the key to productivity [that] they're cracked up to be". He reports an estimated "30% of listers spend more time managing their lists than [they do] completing what's on them".
Hendrickson asserts* that rigid adherence to task lists can create a "tyranny of the to-do list" that forces one to "waste time on unimportant activities".