What is time management?

Effective time management step by step

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Benjamin Franklin

Simply speaking time management is our futile attempt to control time. Which is impossible task anyway. But while we can’t control time, we can use or waste it in countless ways. In this post we’ll try to find best approaches to planning together with best tips on time management and present some of the most inspiring quotes on time ever.

1. Goals setting

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Our basic goals are the same. To be useful, loved and have some fun along the way. Earn money, make friends, have a family, see the world, … But these goals are too vague. An example of such goal would be:

– I want to be reach.

Much better goal is:

– I want to earn a million dollars.

Bu even better (and very likely more realistic) goal is:

– I want to earn 50 thousand dollars by the end of next year.

2. Prioritize

“You can have it all. Just not all at once.”

Oprah Winfrey

We are very different in this areas of time management. Some live for career, other want to devote their lives to families, and other again are thinking only about fun. Everything is legitimate, until we are satisfied with results, but if we want to achieve anything we always need some kind of plan.

When we start planning, we soon realize our limitations in time, knowledge, money, other resources, … If somebody, for instance, want to get a promotion, he may need to sacrifice time to achieve better education, maybe skip few celebrations or a vacation, …


3. Make a plan

“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”

Abraham Lincoln

A good plan is realistic. It should be as detailed as possible, but also flexible if circumstances change or anything unpredictable happens. Just like prioritization a planning involves making choices. In almost every situation we have several ways to achieve a goal, but not all of them are equal.

The essence of planning is to set a list of possibilities and choose the best one to start with. Typical plan has several stages and at each one of them we can choose from several options. Each option is another compromise between time, energy, knowledge and other resources needed to realize it. In many cases we can choose between different orders of stages too. When we break a simple plan, like buying ingredients for lunch in a supermarket, into basic steps, it soon becomes pretty complex. More demanding plans are of course even more complex.

This is why planners on paper still work best for so many of us. Computer programs, as intuitive and advanced they may be, just can’t offer enough flexibility yet.

4. Act

“A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.”

George Patton

Statics ruthlessly shows that even a perfect planning is not enough. Jared Sandberg actually noticed thirty percent of people spend more time on planning than realizing their plans. Of course an action is never alone, we are always dealing with a set of actions, which are correlated to each other.

Very important part of the action plan is to always trying to work smarter, not harder. Nobody wants to realize a plan just to find out he lost his health, friends, family or something else on the way. We should not hesitate when we come to action, but we don’t want to burn out either.

5. Stay focused

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”

Zig Ziglar

We live in the age of constant buzz. There is always a lot of information around and we easily get trapped into non-stop checking our phones, e-mails and social media profiles for updates. Many can spend whole day just to stay in touch with everything, but without any useful results to show.

To stay focused on our goals we can use next tips:

– set milestones, which are easier to achieve, like instead of sending 50 e-mails, try to make it seven per hour

– instantly estimate every action: if it helps you to achieve the goal, do it, otherwise, do something more useful

– say no to every distraction

– keep on track


6. Be positive

“You can’t make up for lost time. You can only do better in the future.”

Ashley Ormon

If everything in life was easy, time management would be completely unnecessary. In real life bad things happen and even with best plans something can go wrong big time. It is very important to not loose the attitude. We have to learn dealing with anger and disappointment which are the inevitable part of life.

If manage to keep smile in bad situations, we’ll improve our chances to het help from other, because everybody prefer to help people with smiles on their faces. We’ll also stop wasting time on complaints and rather use it on solving the situations, which often seen much worse on first look then after few minutes or evaluating with positive attitude. The power of belief is widely known. It can definitely work miracles – even at serious health conditions!

7. Analyze

“The most efficient way to live reasonably is every morning to make a plan of one’s day and every night to examine the results obtained.” – Alexis Carrel

Without proper analysis we can’t estimate our results. This means goals should be measurable with objective measurement. If our goals were set right, that should not be a problem. “Achieve five top three results in tennis tournaments in next season.” is definitely much easier to measure than “Show good performances on the court.”

While there is whole science behind measuring, analysing and interpretation of time management related data, all methods always start with goals and end with reports.

8. Improve

“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”

Peter Drucker

When the analysis is done, we should always ask a question: “What can be done better?” This is the area where bad management differ from good one and where great management stands out from the competition. Constant seek for improvement is easily noticeable in business, education and sports.

Without improvement, based on analysis, which can be often simplified as learning from mistakes, but sometimes also characterized by random testing (in marketing sometimes we simply can’t tell if certain tone of purple package can do better than other, so we have to ask test groups or even do split tests in he market), we would probably still live in cages. Or be exterminated by species with better time management techniques …


9. Never ever forget to have fun, to rest, or simply to waste your time

“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”

Marthe Troly-Curtin

Our energy levels are not always high and every battery needs a recharge. Proper rest is important part of time management. While we can at least temporarily improve our results by simply skipping on sleeping, we risk our health on long term. Many studies showed we don’t need time only to rest, we need to spend some time on doing fun things, being physically active, chat, meditate, well, just whatever works for every specific person.

That’s it. If we want to know what is time management, we need to understand all these necessary elements and transform theory in practice. Ready, set, go!