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Published on January 14, 2021

Why Is Time Management Important For Peak Productivity?

Why Is Time Management Important For Peak Productivity?

Imagine you inherit a million dollars. After you splurge on something special, what’s the first thing you would do with your money? Any good financial advisor would encourage you to make a plan for managing your inheritance. Maybe you’ll put the cash in savings. Maybe you’ll invest some of it in stocks. Either way, without a strategy in place, your money may not last too long.

The same is true with your time. Now, more than ever, learning how to effectively manage your time is crucial for setting yourself apart in the workplace. In a 2016 survey, executives reported that time management skills and the ability to prioritize tasks are some of the most desired skills among workers.[1]

But why is time management important?

Simply put, working harder doesn’t always equal productivity. You can work endless hours, but you won’t achieve much if you don’t manage that time well. In the words of Dr. Alexander Margulis, author of The Road to Success: A Career Manual – How to Advance to the Top, “Long hours are not a substitute for efficiency.”

Are you ready to work smarter so you can improve your productivity? Here are 5 reasons why time management is one of the most important skills to hone in the workplace.

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1. It Keeps You Focused on What Matters

Every Sunday night, I sit down in my office and plot out the course of my week. After determining what I need to accomplish in a week’s time, I plan the structure of each day according to my energy and creativity levels.

For example, I’m usually most productive right after breakfast, so I like to set aside a few hours then for head-down, focused work on timely tasks and projects.

I like to think of time management as creating a budget. Just as devising a plan for my finances keeps me from blowing my money, devising a strategy for my time prevents me from wasting the minutes and hours that make up my workday, which, in the long-haul, ultimately supports my productivity.

Here is another reason why it’s so important to budget your time. The typical workday is full of interruptions and potential distractions—from last-minute meeting requests to the personal demands that come with working from home. Failing to set priorities at the start of a day or week encourages you to move from task to task, reacting to whatever comes up instead of focusing on what actually needs to be done.[2]

When you set priorities and allot your time accordingly, you’ll ensure that you don’t fall behind on your “must-dos,” and you’ll have more time and mental capacity to face and resolve the interruptions along the way.

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2. It Reduces Stress

Like most of us, when I first began in my industry, I was just happy to have a job. To make sure I kept my job—and that I kept growing in my skills so I could get ahead—I often said “yes” to just about every request that came my way. Whether someone needed help with a personal project or wanted my opinion on an idea, I couldn’t miss out.

While this approach certainly helped me build relationships, it also compromised my ability to be productive. But that’s not the only negative effect that my career “FOMO” had. A lack of boundaries (in other words, an inability to say “no”) can increase your stress levels, which can take a toll on your mental and physical health.

So, while a lack of time management might initially give you the impression of productivity, over time, you will inevitably lose steam and burn out. On the other hand, approaching your work with strategy and clear goals enhances your ability to get things done and protects your well-being. Remember that the healthiest version of yourself is also the most valuable player in the workplace.[3]

3. It Helps You to Be Present

A few years ago, during a stressful season at work, a colleague approached me in the office to ask for help on figuring out a bug. I answered her in a rush—without looking up from my computer—because I was so crunched for time. To be honest, I still think about that interaction today. Not only did I miss an opportunity to contribute to a project in a meaningful way, but I also missed out on the opportunity to build trust and rapport in a workplace relationship.

Decisiveness is one of the most important components of getting things done in a timely way. A lack of time management skills can interfere with your ability to think clearly, which, unfortunately, can set you back in your work considerably. But in my experience, constantly being pressed for time also interferes with being present and engaged in work relationships, which is an important part of being productive at work.

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4. It Enhances Your Creativity

Another reason why time management is important is that it helps enhance your creativity. Productivity is, of course, a vital component of succeeding in your work. But crossing items off your to-do list isn’t the only part of the success equation.

Moving forward also requires innovation and creative thinking—both of which require brain space you simply won’t have if you’re wasting too much time on petty distractions.

Experts agree that multitasking or hopping between tasks isn’t an effective way to work because it compromises your ability to do one thing with excellence. For example, let’s say you’re on the phone with a client and you check your email at the same time. While you’re listening to someone talk, your visual cortex becomes less active, so your brain can’t process what they’re saying if you’re looking at something.[4] As minute as it sounds, you won’t be too productive if you’re trying to juggle different tasks at the same time.

If you manage your time effectively, you’ll be able to focus on what’s in front of you and get things done more efficiently. But you’ll also be able to take more breaks to replenish your mental reserves and, ultimately, give your best at work.[5]

5. It Also Helps You Grow in Other Areas

As with any positive growth, getting better at time management requires developing new skills, including self-awareness, strategy and planning, and adaptability.[6] These skills directly contribute to time management, but they can also cross over into other areas, which will ultimately enable you to be more productive in your work and life.

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For example, when you’re more self-aware about what you want to accomplish, you can set clearer goals—a skill that will ultimately help you avoid distractions. And when you grow and improve in your strategic thinking skills, you’ll also get better at creatively tackling problems that pop up at work.

The point is that by honing the skill of time management, you are not only adding structure to your day but you are also becoming a better worker for the long haul. In my opinion, that’s always a worthwhile investment.

Final Thoughts

Paradoxically, getting better at time management takes time. That’s why it isn’t second-nature for most of us to stay on track and focused. If you’re short on time as it is, using precious spare hours in your day to strategically plan your schedule might seem counterproductive. But the extra work to audit and adjust your time is almost always worthwhile.

By working hard to implement a routine that maximizes your effectiveness and productivity, you’ll see clear and immediate benefits in your career and, ultimately, in your mental and physical well-being. In my opinion, any growth that empowers you to be the person you want to be is always a worthwhile investment.

More Reasons Why Time Management Is Important

Featured photo credit: JanFillem via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Aytekin Tank

Founder and CEO of JotForm, sharing entrepreneurship and productivity tips at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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