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).

The Eisenhower Matrix

Time Management: 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.

The Action Priority Matrix

Time Management: 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.

Special Interest Group

Time Management Special Interest Group.

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Forum about Time Management. Below you can ask a question about this topic, share your experiences, report a new development, or explain something.

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topic Time Management Styles
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topic Tips to Motivate Yourself for Boring Tasks, Untimed Tasks and Ones you don't Like
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topic Personal Time Management and the Pomodoro Technique
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topic I Prefer Work Management: Managing to Work in the Available Time
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topic Basic Prioritization Skills Within the Work Environment are Lacking These Days
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topic The Ivy Lee Method: The Simplest Productivity Technique?
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topic Individual Differences in Applying Time Management Techniques
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topic Time Management by Effective Delegation
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topic The Role of Subject Knowledge in Time Management
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topic Dealing with Distractions
How does one handle internal and external distractions? Also, how can one apply time management principles in various contexts, such as quick service restaurants and other forms of retail? In these e...
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topic The 18 Minute Technique to Plan your Day
Did it ever happened to you that you had lots of energy and a plan to have a great working day and you went to the office in a very positive mood, but due to circumstances, the day didn't go as planne...
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topic Group Time Management Excercise: Time Bandits
A well known time management excercise is called "Time Bandits". The generic process is as follows: You give a list of common time wasters to a group and ask each person to tick the ones that affe...
topic Why Time Management? Reasons and Benefits
What are the benefits of time management? For what reasons we use time management techniques?...
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topic How to Create Awareness for Time Management
One good way to to make people realize they need to manage their time and focus on what's really important to them is a time management awareness excercise called the "10 + 5 excercise". Here's the ...
topic Practical Time Management for Managers (Shimkin)
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topic Consider a Virtual Management Assistant
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topic Time Management Quotations / Quotes
"Those of us who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain about its brevity." Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696), French essayist and moralist, in Les Caractères. "It is not that we...
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topic How to Effectively Schedule Meetings with Attendants from Different Timezones?
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topic Should Employees have more Sense of Urgency?
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topic Time is Like a Magnet to Us
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topic Success Conditions for Time Management
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Best Practices

The best, top-rated topics about Time Management. Here you will find the most valuable ideas and practical suggestions.

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🥉 The Getting Things Done (GTD) Method (David Allen)
For those of us who are struggling to tackle the flow of everyday to-dos and get the control of life's overwhelm, the Getting Things Done (GTD®) method can be useful. David Allen, the inventor of this...
Comments11 comments

topic Countering a Busyness Culture
Busy, busy, busy… Professor Waytz of Kellogg School of Management rightly argues that in the current business world almost everyone feels busy and busyness has become a status symbol. He says a cultur...
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Expert Tips

Advanced insights about Time Management. Here you will find professional advices by experts.


Perfectionist? Accept That You Can't do Everything

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A pitfall for knowledge workers and in particular for the perfectionists among them is that they try to do everything an...

CEOs Time Spent per Stakeholder / Constituency

CEO Coaching, CEO Time Management, Stakeholder Management
Research by Porter, Nohria and Higgins among 27 CEOs revealed the following interesting data on with whom they spend the...

Prioritizing your Own Work

Time Management, Work Prioritisation
An interesting variant on the standard time management matrix is the one discussed by Jen Su to prioritize your own work...
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.


The Role of Consequences in Time Management

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Brian Tracey on one of the most important words in Time Management: Consequences. Something is valuable (important) to ...

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This presentation elaborates on the concept of time management and includes the following section: 1. Introduction 2. ...

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Modern culture is often glorifying busyness (= the state or condition of having a great deal to do). In this culture, to...

Improving your Time Management

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Presentation that clearly sets out the obstacles to effective time management and the ways to overcome those obstacles. ...

The Role of Supervisor | Skills of Supervisors

Skills of a Supervisor, Supervisor Role, Supervisor Behavior
This presentation elaborates on the skills that supervisors need in order to be successful in their business/organizatio...

Mindfulness and Wellbeing at Work

Wellbeing, Well-being, Mindfulness, Motivation, Employee Commitment Time Management, Coaching
This presentation elaborates on the concept of mindfulness in the workplace, and includes the following sections: 1. Ou...

Summary of the 4 Quadrants of Time Management

Initial Understanding of Time Management
Brian Johnson initially explains 4 of Steven Covey's Seven Habits: 1. Be proactive 2. Begin with the end in mind 3. P...

Funny Introduction to Time Management

Initial Understanding of Time Management, Start of Workshop / Training
Harold Taylor gives live examples of the most freqently made errors, misconceptions and and time consuming habits in a f...

3 Practical Ways to Deal with Stress

Coping with Stress, Avoiding Stress, Emotional Intelligence, Stress Management
Workplace stress is very common and can cause higher blood pressure, illness and lower self esteem. Decreasing the stres...

First Introduction to the 80/20 Rule (Pareto Principle)

Understanding the Importance of the Pareto Principle in Time and Life Management
Basic explanation of the Pareto Principle for time and life management: 20% of your activities will account for 80% of y...

Eight Secrets on Time Management

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Brian Mozes reveals eight time management secrets from billionaires: 1. Be pro-active; not re-active. 2. Work on impac...

Time Management is a Misnomer. Manage Yourself!

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Dr. Sharon Melwick explains the meaning of Stephen Covey's saying: 'Time Management is a misnomer. The real challenge is...

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In this micro-learning video Jonathan "Jony" Ive, Chief Design Officer of Apple, shares some major management/leadership...

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

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