Successful Time Management


How many times have you recently said I’m sorry I haven’t got time? You have probably said it frequently both at work and at home. You are certainly not alone. The trouble with not having enough time is that important things get forgotten, deadlines are never reached, and tension and stress result. Think of the guilt and hassle caused by forgetting someone’s birthday or an appoint- ment at work. Think of that constant sense of time slipping by, where you are forever checking your watch and looking at the clock. How much time during a busy working week do you get to see and visit friends, to read books, to relax, to play sport, to spend time with your family, to read newspapers, or just to sit down doing nothing other than reflecting on what you achieved last week and what you hope to achieve next week? 

Finding time to enjoy your life is vital. If you find yourself staying behind after work to do things which could be done tomorrow, or if you are taking work home at the end of the day and constantly talking about work with friends and family, you should ask yourself why. If you have to rearrange your holiday around important meetings or events at work, if you are constantly seeking promotion, constantly questioning how you are getting on, the same question arises. You may have slipped into workaholic mode, something that can hap- pen insidiously. Look again at the life plan which you have drawn up. What about the items outside work, like spending time with family and friends, tak- ing on new hobbies and learning new skills, or simply relaxing? 

A manager is a very busy man, often working at a rapid pace without “quiet times”. Managers are confronted with planned and unplanned events that end up eating their available time for instance telephone calls, visitors, meetings, incoming mails etc. Time is one of the scarcest resources a manager has. Time is the most perishable of all resources – it cannot be stored or recovered. Once a minute is gone, that is it. An effective manager uses his time in the most pro- ductive manner. How do you spend your time? Getting control of your time is necessary and this can be achieved by analyzing your use of time. Before any reputable physician will undertake to prescribe a remedy for the ills of a patient, he will insist upon making a thorough diagnosis to ascertain what the patient’s ills are. The same is true of a person who has a problem with time management. He or she must begin by ascertaining what are his/her weak- nesses and when they have been discovered, they must form habits which will either eliminate or bridge those weaknesses so that they don’t work against them. 

What Controls Your Time?  

None of us has total control over our daily schedules although we have some control. Your scheduled working hours should be used in pursuit of the objec- tives of the organization. You should identify tasks/activities that allow you to control your time and tasks/activities which eat into your time, and also the de- gree of freedom in each of these activities. 

In order to make better use of your time it is advisable to keep a daily time log for two weeks. Your time log should be simple. After two weeks of keeping a time log, ask yourself the following questions and your frank answers will re- veal your attitudes, personality traits, and work habits that you need to be aware of for a wiser use of time. These questions have no right or wrong an- swers. They are meant to analyze your work habits. 

Setting Priorities 

The first step in good time management is setting priorities. Doing this re- quires an awareness of the things to be done. Serious managers prepare a list of things they must do and prioritise those items. They decide the items to do first and those that can wait. Next they consider how to achieve them. Once they have prepared a compre- hensive list of everything they need to do, they review it carefully and identify the most urgent tasks. These, of course, receive highest priority. The whole purpose for list-making is to be certain that they consider all activities and give the highest priority to the most important. Setting priorities is no easy task because it requires a balance between  

Setting priorities is the most important skill in time management. Whether you are working on personal tasks or for your employers, there is nothing worse than being aware of a huge number of tasks which need to be done within limited time. This is anxiety – provoking and is much more stress- ful than it need be. However, there are some basic steps you can take:- 

Set down all the jobs you have to do on a piece of paper. 
Go through them all giving them a planned order of completion based on 

their level of priority. Give them a score from nought to ten, if you find this useful. 

Work out which jobs have to be done today, which can be postponed 

until tomorrow, and which can be done at some time in the future. 

Ask yourself which jobs are urgent and which jobs are important. 


The 80 / 20 Rule 

The 80/20 rule, or more popularly the Pareto Time Principle named after Vil- fredo Pareto, a nineteenth-century Italian Economist and Sociologist, helps ex- plain the importance of setting priorities for effective results. 

This rule states that 80 percent of the value of a group of items generally con- centrates in only 20 percent of them. This interesting principle validated itself time and again. For example: 
80 percent of all telephone calls come from 20 percent of the callers 
80 percent of meals ordered in restaurants comes from 20 percent of the 

menu items 

80 percent of the radio and TV audience selects only 20 percent of all 


In time management, it means that 80 percent of results come because people complete 20 percent of their tasks. For example, if manager Abdi keeps a daily things-to-do list of ten items, he can expect to be 80 percent effective by successfully completing only the two most important tasks. For management, this rule means that leaders need to concentrate on the most important tasks first, experts call them the “vital few” tasks (the 20 percent most important) in contrast to the “trivial many” (the 80 percent less important). 

There are many managers who feel overworked regularly. Yet there are others who have equal responsibilities and yet they seem relaxed and have more free time. The difference may lie with your style of management. Managers need to look at themselves and how they function. Managers delegate responsibilities because they know by so doing they will increase their efficiency. There is also what is called succession management. A good manager will prepare some people to take over in case some retires, resigns or die. It is sad that many modern managers have become ambulance chasers and fire fighters. These managers feel they are carrying the organizations in their shoulders. They want to make the organization feel they are indispensable. 

The first issue of delegation we come across during the medieval times is re- counted in the Bible in the book of Exodus 17: 13-26. Moses was so over- worked and his father- in – law sympathised with him. He was so much preoc- cupied with minor issues. He was advised by his father- in -law to delegate minor issues so that he gets time for prayers and to handle weighty cases. When managers work too hard and too much and the quality of their manage- ment begins to slip, they may not be delegating properly. Management ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. Delegation al- lows the manager time to concentrate on important work that makes major contributions to the organization. 

Managers face a lot of challenges, both in the ever changing dynamic envi- ronment and handling of complex interpersonal relationships. Marcus Aurelius one of the wisest rulers of Roman Empire wrote in one of his diaries and said:- 

“As I go out this morning I will meet many people who talk too much, impatient, selfish and egoistic. That does not surprise me for I cannot imagine a world without them.” 

As a manager you have a number of responsibilities to yourself apart from your managerial role. The greatest challenge is to maintain the balance in your three separate compartments of life – your professional, personal and spiritual lives. Your professional self is your life as a manager. It is concerned with your job and career activities. Your personal self, deals with your relationships with oth- ers – your spouse, your parents, your friends, and your children. Your spiritual self deals with your relationship with God. Your spiritual self searches to be at peace in the world and to find a larger meaning in your life. The spiritual self is the essence of who you really are – and what you bring as an individual to the professional and personal aspects of your life. Management as an art is quite challenging as the following aspects show:- 

Have Positive Attitude 

It can be argued that time management is very critical both at organizational level and also at family level. If you are well organized at your place of work it can be reflected in the type of the family you have. If you are a good time man- ager you will be able to spare some time with your family and this will in the end increase the joy of the whole family. A manager who does not delegate some tasks to his employees or subordinates will take this mentality home. He will be doing everything including shopping and cooking, even when the wife is at home and not sick, while condemning his wife to a peripheral position. Such a state of affairs will lead to suspicion and animosity among spouses. 

If you don’t take good time management to be part and parcel of your overall life pattern, you should remember nature does not have bargaining counters. If you don’t take great keenness in proper time management you will pay the price through depression, peptic ulcers and other psychosomatic problems and all this will deplete your meagre resources for you have to pay handsomely for your medical attention. As you perform your various duties it is good to remember the words of Francis Bacon who said:- 

Man seeketh in society comfort and protection. 

Time management is very important and everybody who cares about life will pay special attention on how to be a good time manager. I will end this chapter with the following quotes:- 

To everything there is a season, 

And a time to every purpose under the heaven 

A time to be born and a time to die 

A time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted 

A time to kill and a time to heal 

A time to breakdown and a time to build up 

A time to weep and a time to laugh 

A time to mourn and a time to dance 

A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together 

A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing 

A time to get and a time to cast away 

A time to rend and a time to loose 

A time to keep silence and a time to speak 

A time to love and a time to hate 

A time of war and a time of peace 

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