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The Importance of Time Management

Do We Value It?

The Importance of Time Management

Do We Value It?

What is the importance of time management? The paradox of time is that, for many of us, it’s the least considered, worst managed, and yet most valuable resource we have.

The problem with our use of time seems to be that far too many of us neither value time, nor use it properly. Perhaps what really matters then, is considering how we use our time, then choosing to use it more effectively.

Continuing our different perspectives on time management, the importance of time management discusses ways to help you release more time. Time that can then be invested in activities of real value.

There are some good reasons why we need to guard our time, here are three factors that stress the importance of time management:

  • You can’t buy it. In the sense that time is distributed equally to all, each of us gets 24 hours a day.
  • You can’t stop it. Time marches on, you can’t pause it or extend it in real terms.
  • You can’t save it. Time can’t be saved to be used up later, when you might feel you need it more.

But you can live it. Eleanor Roosevelt is reputed to have once said:

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift; that’s why they call it the present.

To live well we should make the most of our time.

Valuing Time

Can you place a value on time? In our article What is Time Management?, we discussed Richard Koch’s approach to time management. He argues that if the majority of our time is spent in low-quality activity, then speeding things up, or being more efficient with our use of time doesn’t really help us. In fact, they can become more the problem than the solution!

So perhaps the question we need to ask is: what value do you get out of your time? To be clearer about the importance of time management think about this. It’s an interesting summary of typical use of time in any given day. If you were asked to guess, how much free time do you think you have for yourself each day? Lets assume that for basic needs we use:

  • 8 hours to sleep;
  • 2 hours to eat, (including cooking) and;
  • 1 hour personal hygiene (including getting dressed, washing etc.).

That’s used 11 hours already. What about work? If we assume what are probably very conservative figures:

  • 8 hours a day working (if only!);
  • 1 hour’s travelling (on average).

The importance of time managementThat’s another 9 hours. Add this to the 11 hours already used and the total is 20 hours.

That leaves you with only 4 hours to do the things you like – to take it easy, to meet friends, exercise, indulge in leisure or personal growth, to spend time with the family.

So, if you don’t particularly like or enjoy your work, you’re not left with much time to do the things you do enjoy. And this picture could well be worse if you consider two other things…

Hidden Effects of Time

Give some thought to productivity and leisure. First productivity. Remember Richard Koch’s point that not all time is of equal value. It’s not just time that’s important, it’s what you do with your time.

Consider the workplace for example. London School of Economics (LSE) Professor, John Van Reenen, compared UK productivity with that of the US. In his paper: Working Better, he makes a provocative point about British labour productivity:

Joe Doe in the US could take Thursday and Friday off and still produce as much as poor John Bull in the UK toiling away throughout the working week.

There are numerous reasons for this but the average British manager  would still feel that they work hard. Perhaps one cause is that some activity is just busyness, as discussed in our article: time management at work. There we ask: “should we be re-assessing the value of the time we spend at work”. Which is something we could equally ask of American managers. Van Reenen points out that U.S. managers work longer hours than their British and European counterparts. But long hour cultures are not necessarily productive cultures if we take broader view of the importance of time management.

Let’s take our use of leisure time, particularly our use of television. In: Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam summarises the position.

Most studies estimate that the average American now watches roughly four hours per day, very nearly the highest anywhere in the world.

Relate that to our earlier calculations, and it seems some of us may be spending all of our free time just watching TV! For both work and leisure we should make sure the benefits of time management are thought through, made visible and realised. Time is simply too important to waste.

The Importance of Time Management: Take the Time to….

There is an abundance of advice to help us manage time. Every week new lists, suggestions and formulae appear in books and all over the internet. Here we offer some advice based on older prose. Hopefully this will inspire you to think again about the importance of time management and ensure you invest your time in valuable activities.

What value do you place on your time? What are you going to do with all this free time you’ll be creating? Freeing time is crucial, time to focus on results and worthwhile work. The real importance of time management though, is that it frees you to do more of what you want to do. How might you use some of that freed up time? Here are some wonderfully expressed suggestions from an old Irish text:

“Take the time to work, for it is the price of success.
Take the time to think, it is the source of strength.
Take the time to play, it is the secret of youth.
Take the time to read, it is the seed of wisdom.
Take the time to be friendly, for it brings happiness.
Take the time to dream, for it will carry you to the stars.
Take the time to love, it is the joy of life.
Take the time to be content, it is the music of the soul.”

So take the time to assess the importance of time management in your life. Plan to regularly do things in each of these eight areas. At work and in your own time, take the time…

More insights into Managing Time and Priority

Managing Time and PriorityThese are only suggestions, and each boss and each circumstance must be taken individually. However the value of effective time management, for you and your boss, is worth the effort and maybe even some risk.

There’s a wide range of time management resources in our store, including some great tools. Our e-guide: Managing Time and Priority is is packed with practical tools, tested ideas and a dash of radical thinking. It will will help you master two critical skills: managing time and priority. The guide will help you to:

  • Assess your time priorities and manage your actions.
  • Develop coping strategies to avoid the limitations of “busyness”.
  • Manage the impact of other people’s demands on your time.
  • Develop approaches to “getting things done”.
  • Apply practical tools to managing priorities and time, to get the right things done.
  • Help others to manage their time.

Tool 1: Commitments summary
Tool 2: Time log
Tool 3:Time analysis
Tool 4: Time planning with task filters
Tool 5: Task priorities

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