Main themes of time management
The major themes arising from the literature on time management include the following:
- Creating an environment conducive to effectiveness
- Setting of priorities
- Carrying out activity around those priorities
- The related process of reduction of time spent on non-priorities
Creating an effective environment
Some time management literature stresses tasks related to the creation of an environment conducive to real effectiveness. These strategies include principles such as –
- “Get Organized” – paperwork and task triage
- “Protect Your Time” – insulate, isolate, delegate
- “Achieve through Goal management Goal Focus” – motivational emphasis
- “Recover from Bad Time Habits” – recovery from underlying psychological problems, e.g. procrastination
Setting priorities and goals
Time management strategies are often associated with the recommendation to set personal goals. The literature stresses themes such as –
- “Work in Priority Order” – set goals and prioritize
- “Set gravitational goals” – that attract actions automatically
A 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:
- A – Tasks that are perceived as being urgent and important,
- B – Tasks that are important but not urgent,
- C – Tasks that are neither urgent nor important.
This 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 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 easy 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 Method
All tasks are evaluated using the criteria important/unimportant and urgent/not urgent and put in 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 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.
- 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).
Writer Julie Morgenstern suggests “do’s and don’ts” of time management that include:
- Map out everything that is important, by making a task list
- Create “an oasis of time” for one to control
- Say “No”
- Set priorities
- Don’t drop everything
- Don’t think a critical task will get done in one’s spare time.