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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

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Reference

More by this author

Aytekin Tank

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

How To Set Employee Goals To Help Everyone Grow What Is Block Scheduling? (And How It Boosts Productivity) The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again How to Increase Attention Span If You Have a Distracted Mind 8 Surefire Problem-Solving Strategies That Always Work

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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