Time Management: The Key Ingredient for Productivity
This article was written as an individual review assignment of PPL CSUI 2021
No one enjoys cramming for a test, chasing a deadline, doing an all-nighter, or doing any heavy task in a very short amount of time. However, these experiences happen way too often in our daily life (or at least mine). Even though every one of us gets the same 24 hours in a day, we may feel that there are just some people out there that achieve so much more with their time compared to ours.
The solution for all of the problems above may seem very obvious: time management. However, a study suggests that time management is one of the rarest skills to find in a person. If so, can we really develop such a skill?
In this article, I will guide you through a few tips that I found helpful to improve your time management.
What is Time Management
First I think it’s a good idea to understand what time management is and why it’s important for us.
The Oxford dictionary tells us that time management is the ability to use one’s time effectively or productively, especially at work. It is the process of planning and organizing your time division for specific activities that can be considered productive.
The benefits of having good time management include:
- Greater productivity
- Greater efficiency
- Less stress
- Increased advancement opportunities
- Greater life and career goal achievement opportunities
And on the contrary, having horrible time management may result in consequences such as:
- Missed deadlines
- Workflow inefficiency
- Poor work quality
- Poor professional reputation
- Higher stress
Tips to Improve Your Time Management
Now that you understand what time management is and what benefits it can bring us, here are a few tips to optimize your time management:
Track all of your activities
The first and probably the most crucial tip to improve your time management is to track all of your tasks and activities. Whatever it is that you must attend or work on, write it all down in detail. Write down what the activity or task is, what time the activity will (or should) begin, and the deadline of the task if there’s any.
Create a schedule
After you finish writing down all of your activities and tasks, proceed to create a schedule within a certain time frame. If you want to improve your overall time management skill, you should first start out small by improving your daily schedule. You have to always keep in mind that you must avoid starting your day without an organized to-do list if you want optimized time management. Create a list of all the most pressing tasks for the next day every time you finish your day at work, school, college, or anywhere. The list can then be turned into a schedule.
I personally would recommend Google Calendar for your personal schedule because it allows you to create schedules easily for free. You can also set the app to give reminders or notifications for any task that you have. I personally believe that forgetting a task or activity is one of the easiest time management problems to solve because, in this day and age, we have all the tools needed to remind us of things that must not be forgotten in the palm of our hands. You only need to discipline yourself to create the schedules and reminders, which may seem tedious at first but it’s 100% worth the bother if you strive to improve your time management.
When creating a schedule, prioritization is the key to successful time management. Eliminate tasks that you think shouldn’t be done and identify all of the most important tasks there are. Make sure that your schedule is only filled with the essential tasks that bring you value.
You can prioritize your tasks based on importance and urgency, like so:
- The task is important and urgent: Do the task right away
- The task is important but not urgent: Decide when to do the task
- The task is urgent but not important: Delegate the task if it’s possible
- The task is neither urgent nor important: Set the task aside to do later
Take a break between tasks
Doing lots and lots of tasks without taking a break is a bad idea. Without any breaks that allow you to clear your head and refresh yourself, it is harder to stay focused and motivated. A study suggests that taking breaks when working results in more productivity and performance boost compared to working without taking breaks.
So consider taking a brief nap, going for a walk, meditating, or do anything fun for you between tasks!
An Evaluation Of My Time Management In The PPL Group Project
Throughout my time this semester, I’ve had my highs and lows when it comes to time management. Some days I feel like I am an unkillable, productive, and hard-working machine but some days I just feel so overwhelmed with all the deadlines in this semester to the point of not caring about managing my time at all.
However, one thing is for sure, my time management in the PPL group project is not half bad compared to my overall time management this semester, even though it’s not perfect. Our product owner has nicely listed out all of the tasks required for our project which allows me to track all of the tasks easily. In addition to that, our scrum master keeps track of all the works that the team has done through stand-up meetings which helps us to get an overview of what tasks are still needed to be done. And because I have my trusty Google Calendar to remind me of the meetings, I have never once missed a meeting.
Prioritization, however, is something that I find a bit tricky to do because every task in this project feels important and urgent. For example, there have been multiple occurrences where a task that I got is a dependency for a task that my friend got. Every one of my tasks in my PPL group project is important because all of the tasks are part of the requirement of the project. Other than that, most of my tasks feel urgent because most times, a friend’s task can not be completed without my task being done.
Regarding taking breaks, I believe that there are times where I have taken an appropriate amount of breaks but there are also times where I got too much into my work to the point of forgetting to have lunch or dinner when it’s time.
I‘m not going to lie and tell you that I have never been a deadliner in this semester’s PPL course because of the tips from above. My team and I have pulled an all-nighter that leads us to sleep at 6 AM in the morning because of unexpected bugs or other deadlines this semester. So in conclusion, my time management may not perfect in PPL and needs improvement. However, I believe that my time management would be so much worse if I never follow the tips from above.
That is all for me, friends!
I hope these tips help you manage your time better.
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