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Time Management


“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 tasks 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


Have 2 to-do lists

  • One for all your tasks
  • One 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

Effective communication

Don't be afraid of the telephone!

Always consider other options than e-mail

  • If the e-mail is more than 10 lines long
  • If the subject if sensitive (never write something that you do not want to be forwarded...)
  • If the task is urgent
  • If 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.

Task management

Group 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"

Process 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 process

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


TIme management 101

How to effectively prioritise time, starting with the imost important and urgent activities (Q1 and Q2) FIRST

Time Management Lecture (by Randy Pausch)

Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch gave a lecture on Time Management at the University of Virginia in November 2007. Prof gives an introduction to the concept of time management and many useful tips and tricks to better manage one's time


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!

Useful links

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:

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