Picture yourself at your desk at the end of the day, aware that there are stacks of things still to do, worried that you haven’t yet called three clients you meant to, and wishing that you had more time in the day. That’s when you might ask “what is time management”.

What is Time management? The ability to play more on this golf course

What is time management?

If you think about the words “what is time management?” they are asking how can you manage time, well you can’t!

You’re as likely to be able to manage time as King Canute could manage the waves in 1016.  Neither is it any good hoping that you can stop clients wanting to talk to you, or that you won’t have new things to do.

The real question is not “what is time management”, or even “how can I improve my time management“,  but “how can I manage myself?”. That at least helps you to create the right focus.King Canute is unable to stop these waves, you thinking about time management is as effective.

What causes my time management problem?

I’ve worked with a hundreds of people; all who want to improve their time management skills. Before answering “what is time management” and giving you some time management tips, what sort of person are you and what causes your problem?

  • Dennis – Dennis loves to try the latest gadget, he also likes to help people and gets easily distracted. He has tried all the time management systems around, he knows they work – but then doesn’t use them after a couple of weeks.
  • Peter – Peter only has a vague idea about what he wants to do with his firm and he’s a great lawyer. He works hard, but never seems to feel motivated by it. Then his output slows for a few weeks, until he mentally kicks himself and speeds up again. As he charges by the hour, he doesn’t really ask “what is time management?”
  • Avril – Avril is a creative person and hates the idea of managing anything. “The creative process can’t be managed”. As a result she ends up working all hours and getting not a lot done.
  • Davina the disciplinarian – Davina is very strict, she uses time boxing, doesn’t believe in multitasking and her To-Do” list astounds (click on the orange links for more). She gets lots more done than Dennis, or Avril, but she struggles from time to time when she can’t quite get the ideas out of her head. As a result she leaves some things undone. Avril would say she left no space for creativity.
  • Landru – Landru long ago realised that people need discipline, but also need to be able to release their wild side. OK Landru is borrowed from a Star Trek episode, but his findings are pretty good and he might not allow us to answer “what is time management?”, but could be a good part of “how to improve my time management”.

Your time management problem will be unique, but probably combine elements of the above, what do you think?

7 Time Management Tips

Here are seven great ideas that will help you to manage yourself, so that you can get more done in your time. Depending on who you are in the list above will mean different ones will work for you below.

  1. Time Blocks: Allocate blocks of time, on a predetermined basis. In each block focus only on one category of task (e.g. social media, client facing). By setting the length of the blocks, in advance, to your needs you can at least ensure you cover the range of your “To-Do” list. Download our guide to Time Blocking, it's free and waiting for you to download right nowClick here for instant access (email address required).. If you have an iPad, you might like the “30/30” app, it fits well with this concept
  2. Default Diary: Some may say this is a stricter, easier to manage version of time blocking. Divide your week into blocks so you work on the same category at the same time each week. Perhaps it’s a bit like your school timetable, but it allows you to schedule things more easily. Download our guide to the default diary, it's free and waiting for you to download right nowClick here for instant access (email address required).
  3. Landru hour: Allow yourself time each and every day where you will do whatever feels good. If that’s playing with the latest idea, getting lost in Google or whatever fits your hearts desires at that time. This is about recognising that we can’t always, all the time, be slaves to the clock.
  4. Power Hour: Save yourself one hour at a key point in every day, when you have energy. Ensure everybody (including your secretary) knows, phones off, second out round one. One hour to push through your “To-Do” list.  Have you read our free guide on the power hour? , it's free and waiting for you to download right nowClick here for instant access (email address required).
  5. Rewards: Gadgets are great, new ideas and wonder methods are fun – but when you discard them after a couple of weeks, were they worth it? There is no really sexy answer to time management. Perhaps get your gadgets as a reward for good behaviour?
  6. Discipline: Horrible word, but whenever people ask “what is time management?” and “how can I improve my time management?” all of the answers come down to discipline! Controlling your urges, knowing why helps – hence…
  7. Goals: Clear goals will help you see what you’re aiming for and the value of achieving them.

Download one of our time management reports, it's free and waiting for you to download right nowClick here for instant access (email address required)..

Time management tips involving others

Then there are those things that you need to do which affects others, but can pay real dividends:

  • Delegation anybody?: Passing work to others will help. They might not do it as well as you, but you can be doing other things at the same time. Download our free 7 page guide to delegation, it's free and waiting for you to download right nowClick here for instant access (email address required).
  • Assertiveness: Sometimes it’s about being better at saying “NO”. Read about 6 ways of saying “NO” and increase your assertiveness.

How would you answer “what is time management” and what time management tips would you share with others who are reading this?

Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Have you got your "next step kitbag yet"? It's stuffed with guides, reports & templates helping you grow from 5 to 50 employees Click here for immediate access