How Can We Improve Time Management?
Time management is a problem for most children and many adults. School and university counselors know that time management is the cause of many students’ academic problems. Most students who wait until the night before an exam to start studying find that they cannot put in enough time studying.
Time management also is a problem in the workplace. Supervisors who procrastinate find themselves telling their subordinates to drop everything to complete a task that should have been done days or weeks ago. Although society seems to value putting in long hours at the office, in fact some people are forced to do this because they budget their time poorly. Supervisors who plan better have higher morale among employees.
Common sense offers suggestions on how to use time productively, and most of these have been substantiated by research. Effective time managers—in school, at home, and at the workplace—tend to practice the following behaviors:
Make a list daily of tasks to accomplish.
It is good to put more tasks on the list than you think you can do. That way if you complete all the necessary ones in less time than anticipated you will feel a sense of accomplishment and can work on other tasks to get ahead.
Set realistic time limits for how long tasks should take.
Developing a meeting agenda may take only a few minutes, but writing a report is likely to take far more time. With experience you will be able to make better estimates.
Build into each day some unaccounted time.
Unless you work in a cave separated from the outside world there will be daily distractions. People will call or come to see you, an unexpected e-mail may require immediate attention, your supervisor may need you to complete an urgent task, your child may get sick and need to go to the doctor, and so on. By planning for these interruptions you will be less frustrated when they occur.
Break long-term tasks into subtasks and make one or more subtasks a daily goal.
It is unrealistic to expect to write a major paper or compile a lengthy report in a day. Subdivide them and set up a schedule for completing them over several days.
Although it is tough, it usually is good to do the hardest jobs early in the day when you are most alert. They are likely to take less time early in the day than if you work on them later when you are tired.
© ______ 2008, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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