What is Time Management?

posted by Aby Garvey on March 11, 2014 8 Comments

During a recent forum discussion in my It’s About Time online class, I was struck by a comment from a classmate. This comment shed light on a common belief about time management. Maybe you have a similar belief.

Do you feel that time management is about taking steps to be productive all the time? If so, I invite you to reconsider.

simplify101 to-do listI believe time management is about figuring out how to use your time in ways that are in sync with your values. If you value creativity, then finding time for creative pursuits means you’re managing your time well. Time management is also about using your time in ways that are fun for you. If you use a rainy day to make progress on an important project, this is great time management, even if you happen to enjoy the project!

Time management isn’t about deprivation. It’s about making intentional choices with your time, so you can get your must-do tasks done more efficiently creating more time for activities you enjoy doing.

stop sign graphicTake action! Start putting this idea into practice by identifying a must-do task that takes more of your time than you’d like. Then, look for ways to get it done more quickly. Try batching tasks—paying all the bills, or running all of your errands at once. Or use a timer to help you stay focused on your must-do task for longer. Interruptions, even self-inflicted ones, are huge time thieves! By focusing on just one task at a time, you’ll get your work done more efficiently, freeing up time for the fun stuff.

Do you believe that time management is about forcing yourself to get the icky stuff done? Are you ready to reconsider and put the ideas in this quick tip into action? Tell me about it in the comments! I look forward to hearing from you. 


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Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and coaching program

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  • March 11, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    I used to feel that I had to be productive all the time, but I don’t feel that way now. There are creative outlets that I NEED like stamping, playing piano,and salsa dancing. For me the single most effective tool is to write the task down. There’s something magical about seeing it on a piece of paper that compels me to get it done. It may not get done that very day, but it will get done within the next few days. Yay for to-do lists!

    March 14, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    I agree – yay for to-do lists. And double yay for recognizing the importance of taking time for you!

    • March 11, 2014 at 1:40 pm

      Okay, but how will I know when the icky stuff is done (enough of it, at least)? So I can feel free to do the creative stuff? That’s always been my stumbling block.

      March 14, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      Great question Amy! I think that it has to come down to what feels right for you. But maybe you could come up with a little system of X hours of icky stuff earns you Y hours of creative and fun stuff. Would something like that work for you?

      • March 11, 2014 at 10:31 pm

        The best way I’ve found to accomplish a lot in less time is to make a clear detailed list of everything I need to do. I find it very therapeutic to cross things off, so I like to have EVERYTHING written! I write a rough time frame next to the item and organize the list in an order that makes sense and is efficient (i.e.. group all errands into one time frame, etc.). I separate them into morning tasks and afternoon tasks so I can pace myself. I also categorize my tasks into 3 groups–A, B and C. A items are must do’s for that day; B are items that would be great to get done, but not imperative, and C are items that can be done whenever, no urgency. This allows me to quickly decide which ones I can skip if I’m running out of time and let’s me keep my focus on getting the high priority ones done first.
        However, I fail most of the time in putting the fun things on the list. I also see how routine is a huge bonus to being able to make the best use of my time, (i.e. laundry on Monday, bills on Tuesday, etc.) otherwise I forget, and the older I get the more I forget! Having said that, today I scheduled to just spend time with my daughter, doing whatever she wanted to do. This should pay off great dividends as she knows she is a priority in my life.

        March 14, 2014 at 3:27 pm

        Thanks for sharing your system!

        • March 13, 2014 at 7:53 am

          Time management is a made up concept that, I believe, diverts attention from the one factor that underlies effective use of time – me! My priorities, choices and actions are the ultimate arbiter of what happens by day’s ends. Time is immutable and, therefore, not manageable. However, to make it all come together nicely, I look at the big picture: my life is bigger than my business or any other single component that helps to craft my abundant, healthy life. Therefore, if I want to be productive, I have to be creative, have fun, hug friends, enjoy ice cream, listen to music, drink wine, laugh, travel, sleep well and be adventurous because all those things and states of mind refresh my thinking and ability to bring new solutions and opportunities to my choices, whether in business or personal time.

          March 14, 2014 at 3:29 pm

          Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think that it is fair to say that time management is misnamed – it is really self management and choices about how to use our time. Good point!