Time Management

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What is Time Management? Meaning.

Time Management (TM) involves the conscious control of the amount of time spent on tasks, activities, projects or inititiatives, in order to maximize efficiency.

As Eisenhower once put it, "Plans are nothing, but planning is everything".

TM involves analyzing how time is spent, and then prioritizing different work tasks. To be effective as a manager, you should be able to distinguish clearly between what tasks, activities, projects are important (and deserve to spend time on) and which ones are not.

Levels of Time Management

TM can be performed on an:

  • INDIVIDUAL LEVEL (yourself, your colleagues, your employees);
  • TEAM LEVEL (your project, department); and
  • ORGANIZATIONAL LEVEL (division, country, firm, corporate).
Time Management: Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix

Eisenhower said that to approach a full agenda and to determine priorities for issues and tasks at hand there are two dimensions to consider: URGENCY and IMPORTANCE. Putting these 2 dimensions on two axis results in 4 quadrants of issues and tasks:

  1. Important and urgent. NOW! Get done with it right away.
  2. Important but not urgent. SCHEDULE. Make an entry into your calendar.
  3. Not important but urgent. QUICK FIX. Try to delegate as much as possible and reduce involvement.
  4. Not important and not urgent. DROP. Trash it.

6 Steps to Create an Eisenhower Matrix

  1. List
  2. Rank Importance
  3. Rank Urgency
  4. Divide the issues and tasks into the 4 categories
  5. Plot them in the Matrix
  6. Act upon your classification

Note that besides time planning, a range of other things influence how quickly and efficiently you are in managing and carrying out activities: for example your information handling skills, your verbal and written communication skills, and how you delegate.

Time Management: Action Priority Matrix

The Action Priority Matrix

The Action Priority Matrix looks similar to the Eisenhower matrix, but the focus is on impact and effort instead of importance and urgency. It also helps you decide which tasks, projects or activities you should spend your time on, but from a different perspective.

The Action Priority Matrix is a time management tool with 4 quadrants along 2 axes: EFFORT and IMPACT, each of which can be High or Low:

  1. High Effort + High Impact: "MAJOR INITIATIVES". Decide. (Very) good returns, but time/resources consuming. This means that one major initiative may "crowd out" several quick wins.
  2. Low Effort + High Impact: "QUICK WINS". Focus. Attractive projects, because they give a good return for relatively little effort. Focus on these as much as you can.
  3. High Effort + Low Impact: "THANKLESS TASKS". Avoid. These initiatives or tasks give little return and also soak up precious time that you should be using on more useful things.
  4. Low Effort + Low Impact: "FILL-INS". Don't worry too much about doing these activities  If you have spare time, do them, but otherwise drop them or delegate them.

6 Steps to Create an Action Priority Matrix

  1. List
  2. Rank Impact
  3. Rank Effort
  4. Divide the issues and tasks into the 4 categories
  5. Plot them in the Matrix
  6. Act upon your classification

Note: there are more time management methods, tools and techniques than the two explained above! Take a look in the forum, best practices, expert tips and resources section.

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Time Management Special Interest Group.

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Forum about Time Management.

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Start a new forum topic about Time Management. More info.


Best Practices

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Expert Tips

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Information Sources

Various sources of information regarding Time Management. Here you will find powerpoints, videos, news, etc. to use in your own lectures and workshops.

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Compare also: Pareto Analysis  |  Gantt Chart  |  Time Value of Money  |  Management by Exception  |  Empowerment of Employees  |  Analogical Strategic Reasoning  |  RACI  |  RAPID approach  |  Stretch Goals

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