“Time is the scarcest resource of the manager; if it is not
managed, nothing else can be managed.” - Peter
F. Drucker, The Essential Drucker
Time management is the
practice of ensuring that the effort and energy expended during the working day
is allocated to the agreed priorities and objectives of the job. Managing time effectively requires to classify activities along two dimensions:
- Urgency: What needs to be done NOW, tasks that need immediate attention
- Importance: What needs to be done WELL, tasks that support key business goals
By classifying taks along the Urgency/Importance axes, we define a matrix of four quadrants:
- Q1 - Important/Urgent: Reactive tasks & crises
- Q2: Important/Non-urgent: Proactive tasks & planing -
- Q3: Non-important/Urgent: Someone else's priorities & interruptions
- Q4: Non-important/Non-urgent: Time wasters
Those different clusters of activities must be dealt with differently:
- Q1: To be done NOW!
- Q2: To be planned, in order to ensure deadlines are met and deliverables are of the expected quality
- Q3: To be reprioritised when possible - read "Learn to say 'no', 'not now' or 'no, but...'" infra
- Q4: To be eliminated
Time Management tips & tricks
2 to-do lists
for all your tasks
for the tasks you want to perform during the day; ideally to be written the evening before
Plan to plan
Plan time regularly (at least once a week) to plan your activities for the next few days:
- Update your to do list
- Review priorities according to the importance/urgency matrix
- Flag meetings to prepare
Block time in your agenda
To work on importance or complex tasks, block time in your calendar to:
- Ensure you can get an interrupted period of time without meetings to work
- Make sure you don't forget to work on those
Don't be afraid of the telephone!
consider other options than e-mail
the e-mail is more than 10 lines long
the subject if sensitive (never write something that you do not want to be
the task is urgent
you require information from someone you do not know
Learn to say "no", "not now" or "no, but..."
When given an additional task/assignment/project, consider saying "no" if you believe it does not fall in your area of responsibility, or discuss a later deadline - not everything need to be done by you, or right now!
Alternatively, consider what else you could do that would satisfy the other person without requiring as much time from you.
tasks of a same type
There is a fixed cost each time you change your state of mind. Manage tasks of similar nature together to increase efficiency
"Only touch once"
your mails as soon as you read them:
- Reply / forward
- Archive / delete
- Write down a task on your to do
Less than 1 minute to
Immediately process the tasks that require less than 1
minute, write down heavier tasks on your to do
Learn to throw away
Automatically delete or throw away an electronic file or
paper document that you don't need anymore
A great time management guide
- initially aimed at college students, but applicable to busy managers as well. This guide great advices on how to manage one's time - in only 4 pages. A great resource for time-constrained managers!
Time management quiz
Take the time management quiz
to determine how well you manage your time and what tools can help you improve your time management.
Time management tips & tricks
Some additional time management tips & tricks
, elaborating on the ones described above:
- Know how you set your time
- Set priorities
- Use a planning tool
- Get organised
- Schedule your time appropriately
- Delegate: get help from others
- Stop procrastinating!
- Manage external time wasters
- Avoid multi-tasking
- Stay healthy
Time management skills
Review the key skills
to better manage your time, from one of the following categories: