Advertising
Advertising

Published on March 3, 2020

When Does Time Management Matter Most?

When Does Time Management Matter Most?

In every part of life, time management is a valuable skill, but it’s far more important in some situations than others.

Even when you’re kicking back with a book, you can’t forget about the clock entirely. At some point that afternoon, you’ll need to start on dinner. If you want to make it through a certain number of chapters before then, you have to think through the amount of time you can afford to spend on each.

It’s not the end of the world if you struggle with time management while reading. However, once you understand why time management matters, you’ll start to spot situations where it’s critical to get it right.

Why Is Time Management Important?

Time management isn’t a hard concept, but it is hard to practice well. Psychologists define it[1] as “the ability to plan and control how [one] spends the hours in a day to effectively accomplish their goals.”

People who manage their time well are planners. They look at their goals, and they decide how much time to devote to each in a given hour, day, week, or month.

That might sound easy, but all too often, life gets in the way. A client calls while you’re in the middle of deep work. In the middle of your reading hour, your son or daughter spills food all over the floor. Despite having set aside the time for something else, you get up and deal with the distraction.

In most contexts, it won’t do much harm to take a detour from the task at hand. However, if you do it in the wrong circumstances, you might come to regret it.

What Are the Consequences of Poor Time Management?

Poor time management can come back to bite you. If you can’t seem to get a grip on how you spend your time, you may struggle with:

Advertising

Tardiness

One sign that you aren’t good at time management is that you’re always late to your appointments. If you’re late to one appointment, chances are good that you’ll have to push later ones back by a few minutes as well.

Consistently being late has all sorts of side effects. It can hamper your ability to work on a team, cause you to rush through your own work, and upset others who rely on you.

Poor Performance at Work or School

When you do not budget your time well, your time management issues may show up as poor performance at work or school.

If you spend too much time writing the perfect email, you may not have time to tackle that budget analysis your boss asked you to do. If you can’t tear yourself away from the television to study for a test, you probably won’t do very well on the exam itself.

Procrastination

Procrastinators — such as the student who can’t bring herself to study — know where they should be spending their time. The root of their time management issues is simply that they don’t follow through on their plans.

In some ways, procrastination is worse than not budgeting your time at all. Procrastinators make commitments they struggle to honor. When that happens repeatedly, the procrastinator’s relationships tend to suffer.

If you want to learn about the types of procrastination and how to fix them, this article may help: Types of Procrastination (And How To Fix Procrastination And Start Doing)

Damaged Relationships

Your boss might get upset if you struggle to turn projects in on time, but the effects of poor time management on your relationships go deeper than that.

Advertising

People want to know that they can count on you to do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it. If that is not the case, family members may hesitate to ask you for help, and friends might think twice before inviting you out.

When Time Management Matters Most

You might not face those consequences if you manage your reading time poorly, but you will if you let bad time management bleed into other areas of your life. At home and at work, there are a few situations when time management is critical:

When Others Are Counting on You 

Time management is something you should want for yourself. Managing your time well can make you more productive and keep your stress levels low. With that said, it’s particularly important when you’re on a team.

Say you’re a sales development representative. Your job is to nurture sales through the sales pipeline, allowing the senior salespeople on your team to focus on closing deals.

If you spend too much time on certain leads, you may have a high close rate but a low volume. If you give lots of leads little attention, your volume might grow — but the leads you pass on probably won’t close. Good time management means giving just the right amount of time to each lead on your list.

Even when you aren’t at work, you still have to work on teams. If you’re making a meal with your family, you could throw the whole timetable off if the veggies you agreed to chop aren’t ready to cook alongside the roast.

In the end, coming through for others builds personal connections.

When Your Schedule Is Full

The reason time management matters during crunches is obvious: When you’re busy, you’ll struggle to get it all done if you don’t manage your time effectively.

Advertising

People who manage their time well know exactly how much they can get done in a given timeframe. They use both structure and technique to accomplish as much as possible.

Structurally speaking, they do things like book appointments back to back. They carve out time on their calendar for deep work. If an interruption happens, they either ignore it or gently explain when they’ll be able to address it.

What time management techniques can you use to make more of your time? We recommend the Pomodoro Technique. Named after the timer used by the system’s inventor, pomodoros are cycles of rest and work. A pomodoro might consist of a 30-minute sprint followed by a 10-minute rest, repeated until the person is ready for a longer rest.

Other techniques, such as time blocking [2], are also effective. Time blocking involves segmenting one’s schedule into 15-minute chunks and assigning something specific to each of them. Every minute of the day is accounted for, so there’s no question of what task the time-blocker should be working on.

When You’re Learning Something New

Learning new things takes time, so it requires time management. If you want to master a foreign language, for example, you’ll need a long-term plan. Language learning experts suggest it takes up to 44 weeks [3] of practice just to reach intermediate proficiency.

Few, if any, valuable skills can be learned in a day. Developing them means setting aside a small amount of time each day to practice, realizing that the fruit of your labor will not be ripe for months into the future.

The solution is to set milestones. You might plan, for example, to know how to conjugate present-tense verbs after your first week. But it might not be until the fourth week when you learn past-perfect conjugations.

To stay on track, give yourself small rewards. If you’re learning Spanish, you might go out to a Mexican restaurant once you’ve learned common words associated with cooking and eating. Once you’ve mastered the past, present, and future tenses, you could reward yourself with a trip to Spain.

Advertising

When You’re Stressed

Stress has a way of making problems seem bigger than they truly are. If you’re stressed out about a task, get serious about time management. The best way to calm yourself is to put together a plan.

Say you’re worried about whether the first conversation with a new client will go well. You know that preparation is essential to a positive client experience.

What does that mean in terms of time management? Go ahead and block off time to research the account. Schedule a meeting to talk to the account’s salesperson. Give yourself a half-hour or more to sketch out a strategy.

Occupational psychologist Cary Cooper suggests[4] stress often stems from situations you can’t control. Before you get to that point, be proactive. Think about how time management can help you avoid a bad outcome, and adjust your schedule to help you get there.

When the Chances of Failure are High

If you’ve ever found yourself in a situation where you’re likely to fail, you might have heard the maxim, “Do your best, and forget the rest.”

Doing your best is really a euphemism for effective time management. If you craft a plan of action and stick tightly to it, you can forget the rest. Failure happens, and some things are simply out of your control.

With that said, it’s also important to manage time well in the face of failure. Set aside time to do a post-mortem: What did you do well? Where did you let time get away from you? If you find yourself in a similar situation again, what would you do differently?

Time management is like water conservation: Water may seem plentiful, but you know better than to waste it. Practice being a good steward of your time. When crunch time comes, you’ll be glad you did.

More Tips on Handling Time

Featured photo credit: Andrea Natali via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

John Hall

John Hall is the co-founder and president of Calendar, a leading scheduling and productivity app that will change how we manage and invest our time.

How to Be Productive When You Work from Home When Does Time Management Matter Most? delayed gratification How to Master Delayed Gratification to Control Your Impulses 7 Ground Rules of Setting Goals (And Reaching Them) How to Master Your Management Skills and Build a Strong Team

Trending in Smartcut

1 How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples) 2 15 Ways to Set Professional Goals (Examples Included) 3 How to Change Habits When You Feel Stuck in a Rut 4 Need Journal Inspiration? 15 Journal Ideas to Kickstart 5 How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.

In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

Advertising

Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

Advertising

Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

Advertising

2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

Advertising

6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next