Time management encourages us to plan and prioritize tasks following the desired goals. It teaches to develop the right mindset and adopt productive behaviors to be successful in whatever we do. This way, time management helps those who practice it diligently to attain superb performance results in both professional and personal spheres of life.
Still in doubt about all the benefits that time management can produce? Here I summarize some of the most convincing statistics and research findings that are bound to persuade even the most suspicious of readers in the importance of proper time management.
But first, let's see how the majority of people spend their lives:
- The US adults sleep roughly 6.8 hours a night (Gallup).
- On average, a full-time employed person in the United States works 8.5 hours a day during the standard workweek (US Bureau of Labor Statistics).
- The US women use about 2.5 hours a day on household activities, while men – 1.9 hours (US Bureau of Labor Statistics).
- Leisure activities – sports, socializing, reading, TV, etc. – take around 5.2 hours a day from the lives of US adults (US Bureau of Labor Statistics).
- Worldwide, Internet users spend approximately 144 minutes a day on social media (Statista).
Major Time Wasters at Work
Based on the above data, work consumes a significant portion of our waking time, if not the largest one. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean people spend these hours productively – distractions and time wasters in the workplace are extremely common:
- 89% of employees waste at least a part of their working time each day: 31% of workers waste 30 minutes a day, another 31% – 1 hour a day, and 16% waste roughly 2 hours (Salary.com).
- 64% of workers surf the web for entertainment and personal stuff while at work (Entrepreneur).
- 50% of employees get distracted on texting and phone calls during a workday, 27% – on snack and smoke breaks, and 23% get distracted on talking to colleagues (Forbes).
- An employee may spend as much as 30 hours per week just checking on new emails (Inc.).
- Executives’ meetings eat up nearly 23 hours per week these days – a massive amount of time, considering that managers spent less than 10 hours a week on meetings in 1960’s (Harvard Business Review).
The Real Costs of Poor Time Management
Inadequate time management inevitably results in work delays and, thereby, makes companies suffer due to significant financial losses. However, unproductive behaviors – a good sign of one’s failure to manage time adequately – are also linked to some hidden costs. And unfortunately, these costs affect both employed individuals and businesses alike:
- Expenses linked to unnecessary emails equal $1,800 per employee a year (Atlassian).
- Repetitive and duplicate tasks cost companies about $5,000 per employee a year, while an ineffective search for information and people costs $7,000 (Mohsen Attaran et al.).
- The annual cost of unnecessary meetings for US businesses amounts to $37 billion (Lucid Meetings).
- On average, project delays entail cost overruns of up to 20% over the initial budgets. And in 3.3% of cases, cost overruns due to delays may exceed original estimates by 50% (Cornerstone Projects Ltd.).
- Time leakages that happen due to untracked emails and meetings, as well as delays in timesheet completion, result in a more than 38% loss of billable revenue (Time Is Money).
- Higher procrastination rates are linked to lower employee income and shorter employment periods (Brenda Nguyen et al.)
“A single point increase in procrastination on a 5-point scale is associated with approximately a $15,000 drop in salary… and 322 fewer days of employment”Brenda Nguyen et al.
What Can You Do to Manage Time Better?
According to Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University, about 20% of people are chronic procrastinators – they are simply unable to engage in work without postponing anything due to psychological and health-related factors. But most of us don’t have a good excuse for not dealing with costly delays and time wasters. All we need to do to address the problem once and for all is refocus, alter our workplace environments and apply the right techniques:
1. Try flexible work arrangements
Remote employees don’t need to spend time traveling to work. Instead, they have more chances to attend to personal matters than those working from the office. Thus, full-time remote workers tend to be happier and more satisfied with their work-life balance and jobs (Business Insider).
2. Look for a place with fair compensation and reasonable policies
When employees are satisfied with organizational strategies and policies, they show good time management skills two times more often than unsatisfied workers. And those happy with their compensation tend two have good time management skills four times more frequently than those unhappy about it (Muluken Genetu Chanie et al.).
3. Keep motivation high
More motivated people tend to show better time management behaviors – including planning and estimation – than those not interested in what they do (J. A. Francis-Smith & Ivan T. Robertson).
4. Enjoy the process
One’s ability to attain long-term goals and avoid procrastination largely depends not only on the level of their persistence but also on the degree of enjoyment with the process (Harvard Business Review).
5. Stop multitasking
Switching from one task to another, you waste a lot of time. After getting distracted on something as small and insignificant as texting and responding to emails, it may take you up to 15 minutes to return to more serious and essential professional duties (The New York Times).
6. Avoid overworking
There’s no point in working more than 40 hours a week and 8 hours a day since it’s nearly impossible to be productive staying on tasks for longer than that. Thus, working overtime doesn’t mean you accomplish more things in an effective way. Overworking depletes your mental resources and increases the risk of burnout, which harms productivity a lot (Inc.).
7. Track your time
Time trackers, such as actiTIME, assist in identifying time wasters and inefficient team behaviors. But to take full advantage of time tracking, you have to fill in timesheets regularly. Daily time tracking is characterized by greater accuracy and, thus, prevents productivity leaks by as much as 80% (Time Is Money).
Time Management Benefits
Research findings also reveal that time management fosters a boost in productivity and assists in attaining desired results more efficiently. Besides, it promotes health and helps individuals lead more balanced lives. These outcomes are indeed worth striving for:
- In such stressful and deadline-oriented professions as event organization, adequate time management is associated with better team performance. It allows employees to adhere to schedules and fulfill work requirements within a predefined timeframe (Nor Lela Ahmad et al.)
- A well-developed sense of control over time helps reduce the psychological strain one experiences when in need to meet both professional and family-related demands (Steve M. Jex & Tina C. Elacqua).
- When mastering time management principles, individuals start to spend more hours on high-priority work and, as a result, they go through an increase in personal productivity and satisfaction (Brandon L. Hall & Daniel E. Hursch).
- Regular and accurate time tracking can solve the problem of billable time leakage and, thus, increase business revenues by up to 61% (Time Is Money).
So, with an adequate approach to time management, you will become able to achieve your goals with greater ease while increasing your personal or business revenues and evading the hidden costs of low productivity. Undoubtedly, these benefits make time management one of the key ingredients in the recipe for professional success.