Dictionary.com defines time management as, “the analysis of how working hours are spent and the prioritization of tasks in order to maximize personal efficiency in the workplace.” Considering that the roots of time management come from the business world, this is a pretty solid definition.
A Brief History of Time Management
As Susan Ward explains in an article for The Balance, it was during the industrial revolution and the rise of factory work that people “had to learn to live by the clock rather than by the sun.”
In 1911, Frederick Winslow Taylor published “The Principles of Scientific Management” which presented a management theory where factory managers analyzed the best way for workers to do a job. They then provided the appropriate training and resources, along with incentives, to improve performance.
Additionally, at this time, each job was broken down into separate actions to eliminate unnecessary motions.
Eventually, leaders like Peter Drucker developed more inclusive theories of management to also include white collar employees. Drucker’s main focus was, “the need to manage business by balancing a variety of needs and goals, rather than subordinating an institution to a single value.”
The time management definition as greatly expanded.
Today, as Ward notes, “the time management definition has broadened to encompass our personal as well as our working lives; good time management also supposedly improves our work-life balance and therefore, our general happiness.”
Time management now means — your life.
As your personal life changes, so does how you manage your time professionally. For instance, when you’re single, you can be the type of entrepreneur who can spend 80 hours a week on your startup. That changes when you get married and have a family. You can no longer devote that same amount of time to your business, because you’re needed at home.
When will time management become a big deal to you?
That may not seem like a big deal to some. But, when your personal and professional lives collide, time management becomes a huge deal. In fact, effectively managing your time is vital to a happy, successful, and fulfilling life for the following reasons.
Stress is considered a silent killer since it can severely impact your physical and mental health. While you can’t always external factors that cause stress, managing your time can help reduce stress. As Kayla Sloan explains in a previous Calendar article, “it could be said that stress management and time management go hand in hand.”
Controlling your time frees up other time.
That’s because when you manage your time, you feel more in control, improves your efficiency, and prevents multitasking. Because you’re better organized and prepared, you no longer have to scramble to meet deadlines or get thrown-off track by surprises.
Helps you accomplish more with less effort.
Another benefit of time management is that it helps you learn how to focus on task at a time, while also eliminating bad habits that cause you to waste time. It also helps you develop healthy habits and processes that help you achieve more with less effort.
For instance, instead of checking your email every time you receive a notification, you turn off push notifications and block out specific times to email. It also encourages you to start automating and delegating less important tasks, such as updating your social channels or scheduling a meeting.
When prepared and organized, you’ll end-up making fewer mistakes. This means you don’t have to touch things more than once. For example, how many times have you rushed out the door only to forget your laptop.
Now you have to turn around and go back home to grab it. Or, even worse, your day won’t be as productive. The reason? You don’t have the right equipment to crank out your most important work.
Are the type of person who says “yes” to every appointment and request. That can lead to scheduling conflicts. If you committed to five events on a Saturday do you actually think you’ll be able to attend each one? Even if you do, you want enjoy yourself since you’re more focused on rushing from one event to another.
What are your boundaries?
Part of time management is setting boundaries so that you avoid these conflicts. If you already planned to meet with a client or have another social commitment, then you’re not going to overextend yourself by accepting an invite to another event.
Regardless if you use a technique like creating lists or time-blocking, time management can help you make better decisions.
Let’s say that you have five items on your to-do-list. Because you prioritize them, you know that you have to start with your most important task, and not the last item on your list. So, instead of grabbing lunch with a friend, you’ll meet with a client. That’s a better decision since that’s going to help grow and improve your business.
Opens-up more opportunities.
When have some extra time on your hands, you can use that to create more opportunities. It could be anything from learning a new skill, attending a networking event, or volunteering in your community. All of these examples are some of the best ways to help you grow as a person and business leader.
Can lead to success.
Since time management helps you meet deadlines and show-up to events on-time, you’ll develop a reputation as someone who is trustworthy, dependable, and reliable.
If you work for someone else, management will take notice of these traits and move you up the ladder. If you’re a business owner, these traits will impress your clients and customers so much that they’ll become loyal customers who will rave about you to others.
Helps enter the flow state.
Francis Wade writes in a piece for Lifehacker that research has found, “that we are happiest (and most productive) when we are able to enter the flow state—an ecstatic experience of total concentration that requires our complete attention due to its difficulty,” as opposed to just letting out minds wander.
Carve out blocks of uninterrupted time.
To enter this state, Wade suggests you work with your “calendar to carve out blocks of time in which we intend to enter the flow state.” This way you can “combine daily foresight, continuous improvement, and a high level of awareness.”
This helps you eliminates distractions. As a result, you can give your full attention to what’s going on at the moment. This could be working on a project for a client or playing with your kids.
It takes a lot of self-discipline to manage time. And, that’s a great thing. Self-discipline is needed to motivate you to crank out that blog post when you’re not feeling it. It encourages you to hit the gym, even though you’d rather be laying on the couch watching Netflix. And, it convinces you to skip that burger and fries for a healthier meal.
Gives you more time to focus on what matters.
Finally, time management gives you more time to focus on what really matters in life.
Believe it or not, work is not your life. If all you do is work, eat, and sleep, then you won’t have the time to enjoy your family, friends, your passion, or health. When you spend time doing the things that you love, you’ll become happier and more successful in life.
In fact, Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., of the University of California, Riverside, says that, “happy individuals are more likely than their less happy peers to have fulfilling marriages and relationships, high incomes, superior work performance, community involvement, robust health and even a long life.”