Have you ever found yourself wishing to have more time in a day? Do you agree that fitting all the planned tasks and keeping up with all the scheduled events within a 24-hour limit is too often extremely hard, if not impossible? Then, like most of us, you probably think that by mastering time management, you’ll become able to avoid the intense race against deadlines, complete work without any rush and obtain more spare hours to do all the things you always wanted to do.
This way of thinking is definitely correct. However, before trying on any of the time management techniques promoted by all-wise productivity gurus – regardless of how promising and effective these techniques might be – it would help to get to know the basics. To assist you with this, this article explores the concept of time management, as well as the benefits and the meaning of the practice for modern individuals (coders and developers included).
What’s the Point in Time Management?
Time management is all about control and balance. It is the process of planning your tasks and objectives within a certain timeframe and regulating your performance in a way that fosters an optimal use of time resources.
To clarify this definition, let’s see which steps you need to undertake in order to manage time well:
- Identify what you want to do;
- Estimate how much it will take to complete each task;
- Evaluate how much time you have at your disposal;
- Schedule the task(s) considering your estimates and deadlines;
- Track your performance and use of time;
- Evaluate how efficient you are in adhering to the plan and meeting the objectives;
- Based on the final evaluation results, make corrections to your time management process if needed.
- Repeat the above steps one by one.
By going through this cycle from the start to the end, you will distribute time across different activities more efficiently since you’re going to have a clear picture of your entire work scope and see how much time you can and must devote to every single task. Besides, you will improve your time management skills.
Estimation and planning mistakes are likely to happen at first if you have no prior experience. But stay patient, analyze time tracking data consistently, try to detect your mistakes, and you’re bound to get better at managing time and attain the sought-for results shortly.
Time Management Skills and Techniques: What’s the Difference?
On the Internet, there are myriads of articles listing various techniques and hacks one can utilize to manage time better. Prioritizing, time blocking, distraction blocking and the Pomodoro method are among the most popular ones these days. However, according to Erich C. Dierdorff, using these tools prior to developing time management skills is rather pointless:
“For example, would anyone seriously expect that purchasing a good set of knives, high-end kitchen equipment, and fresh ingredients would instantly make someone a five-star chef? Certainly not. Similarly, using a scheduling app without the prerequisite time management skills is unlikely to produce positive time management outcomes.”
So, which skills is Dierdorff talking about? They are:
- Awareness – The ability to judge how much time you have and the understanding that this vital resource is limited.
- Arrangement – The ability to organize tasks and schedules in a way that allows for effective use of time.
- Adaptation – The ability to monitor your own behaviors, analyze how well you use time and make prompt adjustments to multiple external factors and changing plans.
Obviously, it takes some effort to develop these skills. To start out with something, Dierdorff suggests:
- Creating a time budget and treating time like money,
- Analyzing how efficient you are in time estimation,
- Finding your peak productivity hours,
- Applying calendaring tools to plan everything and make schedule updates quickly,
- Breaking down overly challenging goals into smaller ones,
- Striving to reduce time wasters,
- Adopting a simple time tracker to stay aware of your progress.
By the way, if you decide to proceed with the latter recommendation, you can try out actiTIME – this tool has a straightforward timesheet interface and is very user-friendly. Plus, you can download actiTIME Chrome Extension to track every minute spent on tasks automatically and get a highly accurate overview of your productivity trends.
Here’s Why Time Management Is Good for You
Time management produces plenty of amazing benefits both for individuals and teams. Some of the main ones include:
- Higher productivity thanks to more efficient work organization, a stronger focus on most important tasks and optimal use of your energy levels;
- Lower stress since you’ll get a chance to better your work-life balance and learn how to avoid any rush with smartly created schedules and plans;
- Enhanced quality of work because it’s easier to prevent mistakes and pay attention to details when you don’t have to be always in a hurry;
- Enhanced forecasting due to regular engagement in task estimation, which will add another crucial item to your professional skill set and maximize chances for success in all your undertakings;
- Stronger sense of self-efficacy since when you never miss a deadline and achieve goals infallibly, you start to feel more confident and accomplished.
Considering all these benefits, it’s valid to conclude without any exaggeration that time management is one of the keys to superior work outcomes, professional growth, more fulfilled and happy life. This practice helps to navigate the chaos of present-day life with ease, though you still have to invest some dedication to understand how time management works and how to implement it properly. But regardless of that, the ultimate value of time management most definitely outweighs all the risks and troubles of learning.