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Time management

'Time Management' is a misleading term.  Although science fiction has long been fixated with the concept of managing time in various ways (for example, time travel and the ability to alter the speed of the passing of time) nobody can manage time. 

All we can hope to achieve is to manage the events in our lives as efficiently as possible so that we have enough time available for everything we want to accomplish.  Time manages itself.


 Some of the benefits of learning good ‘time management’ techniques include:

  • Being more productive and getting more things done
  • Feeling less stressed and anxious
  • Having more time to do the things you enjoy
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Better, more positive relationships with others

Basic Principles of Time Management :-

Learn to Prioritise

In order to prioritise we have to be able to recognise the difference between tasks that are important and those that are urgent. 


An office worker who has to get a report finished by a tight deadline – an important task.  Whilst busy working on the report the phone rings, many people in this situation will answer the phone – a ringing phone shouts ‘urgent, urgent’.  This is a reactive behaviour.  The phone call probably isn’t that urgent, if it is then the caller will leave a message or attempt contact in another way.


One of the easiest ways to prioritise tasks effectively is to make a ‘to do’ list.  Such lists are easily created on a computer, tablet, smart phone, PDA or simply on a piece of paper.  The advantage of creating digital lists is that they can be synchronised across different devices and can actively remind you of what you need to do. 

Some basic rules of effective ‘to-do’ lists include: do not keep multiple lists in different places or on different devices, have one master list.  Create a list that is suitable for your lifestyle, daily, weekly, monthly or even annually. Rank items on the list in order of importance and urgency, some people find colour coding items useful. Things that are neither important nor urgent should not be on your list.  Tick items off the list once they are completed, the goal is not to tick off lots of items but to remove high priority items.  Removing items from a ‘to-do’ list can be most satisfying, often boosting confidence and motivation.

Get Organised

Spend some time organising your environment. A cluttered environment will slow you down:

  • Clutter can be a distraction
  • You’ll take longer looking for things, things get lost
  • You’ll read the same information over and over
  • Cluttered environments can reduce feelings of self-confidence and motivation


Arrange suitable times to complete your most important tasks.  Aim to complete your important tasks during your most productive time of the day.  Block time off in your diary or digital calendar to ensure that you get what is important done.  Many organisations let staff share their digital calendars with colleagues and line managers, this can be very useful when you need to block off time for working on specific tasks. 

Scheduling is not all about things you have to do for work, make sure you also schedule things you want to do.  If you know you are going to have some down-time, for example whilst commuting, then schedule some simple tasks, like updating your ‘to-do’ list so that you don’t waste time later.

Don’t Put it Off
The task seems overwhelming, unpleasant or boring.  Usually it is possible to break down big tasks into smaller sub-tasks.  These sub-tasks require less time commitment and result in specific, realistic deadlines.  If you’re finding it hard to get started, you may benefit from completing a preparatory task – collecting and organising the materials needed to complete the task. 

Minor rewards can also be positive reinforces to get tasks done – treat yourself to something to mark important milestones in task completion.



Do One Thing at a Time

Contrary to what you may think, trying to do more than one thing at once is nearly always less productive than concentrating on one task at a time.  It takes time for our brains to switch from one task to another, resulting in a loss of productivity.  Concentrate, stay focused and do one thing at a time – you’ll get more done and to a higher standard in the long run.

Stay Calm
When we’re stressed we tend to be less productive, more easily distracted and pay less attention to detail.  It may be difficult sometimes but include time to relax in your schedule, do something that you enjoy to take your mind off other tasks for a while.  Even short breaks can help lower stress levels and improve motivation and production.

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