Simple Time Management Strategies for Busy People

by Percival J. Meris on August 10, 2009


OFTEN WE FEEL WE HAVE TOO MANY THINGS TO DO.  If we use this as excuse to delay work, then we are simply wasting our precious time. The more time we waste, the more our tasks will pile up.

If we only structure our lives to maximize our time and energy on what is most important, we minimize our time on unimportant activities.  Doing so reduces the number of things we have to do by 80%.  This is the essence of time management.

Advantages of Managing Time

With time management, you are able to achieve more.  You avoid procrastination and distractions, and are able to meet your deadlines. You have more free time, allowing you to lead a balanced life.  Having more time reduces pressures and stresses.

Steps in Time Management

The process of managing time takes the following steps:

  1. Identify your goals and objectives. Determine what you want to accomplish and by what time and date you want them accomplished.
  2. Analyze how you use time. Keep an activity log to determine time used for work, for personal, and for time-wasting activities.  Also, find out your most productive and least productive working times.
  3. List work to be done. Write down all the work you need to do to attain your objectives.  Divide these into urgent and important tasks, as well as fixed and flexible commitments.
  4. Prioritize activities. Categorize task list into high, medium and low priorities, and focus on high priorities first.
  5. Work on these activities, as prioritized. Focus on finishing each activity, emphasizing quality over quantity of output.

Prioritizing Work Activities

There are two popular bases for prioritizing work.  One is the Pareto Principle.  According to the Pareto Principle, you spend more time doing the critical few (20%) activities that yield greatest (80%) results, and less on those trivial many (80%) that produce least (20%) results

The other is the Time Management Quadrant, popularized by Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It classifies work into important and urgent and create a combination as follows.


Important & Urgent


Important, but Not Urgent


Not Important, but Urgent


Not Important and Not Urgent

By spending most time in Quadrant 2, there will be least time needed to do activities in Quadrant 1 because many of them will have become nonexistent.  Quadrants 3 and 4, being unimportant, can be delegated.

Take Advantage of Your Peak Energy Time

We have different peak energy hours.  This is the time of the day when we are at our highest physical and mental energy levels to be most productive.  Some people can do the most and best work in the mid-morning hours and the least in mid-afternoon.  How about you?

At what time of the day are you most productive? Least productive?  Plan your work schedule around your peak energy times.  Do the most critical work, requiring deeper analytical or creative thinking, during your most productive time and the simpler routine ones during the least productive ones.

Implementing Time Management Plans

In implementing time management plans, divide large tasks into several smaller parts.  Create a time schedule to do them.  Focus on a small task to complete one part at a time. This will make a big project feel more manageable.

Time management is a lifestyle.  So, learn to manage your time now. Put your plans into action, reduce stress, create more time for your goals, and achieve your dreams.  Time management is really self-management.  It is how YOU manage yourself in using time.


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