Why Is Time Management Important in the Workplace? Structuring the Hours in Your Work Week

Alarm clock

Type “what is time management” into Google, and you’ll get different variations of the same results: “Allocating your hours to the right activities.”

Well, that’s not surprising, we all know what time management is, we also know what a million dollars is.

But among uninspiring time management definitions arises a better, more effective question than what is time management:

Why is time management important?

Well, if you believe in reincarnation, then you agree you’ve got one life, and we should make the most of it.

But here’s the thing, the strategies, and techniques you’ve tried to help you optimise, improve, increase, or learn how to manage time better hasn’t seemed to accomplish much. That’s because deep down you don’t know what you’re doing or doing wrong, and you haven’t yet adopted the discipline or tools to help you accomplish good time management. So, how can you know how to improve time management unless you know where you’re going wrong?

Well, what is time management when we start to break down the where, why, and how?

Whether you’re a self-made wizard that works from home, a contractor or a remote employee we need to define what happens in those 24 hours before we can learn how to manage time better, and it goes something like this:

THE PLAN

Wake up at 7 a.m., hit the gym for an hour, then do shower-coffee-grub between 8 and 9. Then BOOM! Your workday begins, and you’re going to kick some proposals ass until lunch, grab a sandwich and some fresh air, and then do some payroll stuff until 4, just in time for your meeting, which should go until 5 o’clock tops. After a quick check on crypto, you’re going to make like Skynyrd and free-bird yourself from your laptop and eat ice cream with your kids.

Perfect plan, right?

Completely flawless.

Your schedule is set.

Motivation in check.

Simple, easy tasks.

Time for you and your kids.

You could turn this kickass schedule into a what is time management meme.

It’s not like you’ve got four different meetings and a commute to work and a volunteer job on the side, speeches to give or root canals to have, or an overly needy, sweet-mother-hen-type neighbor you have to regularly hide from to avoid conversations that would otherwise make you want to stick a fork in your eye.

No, your daily routine is simple.

So why did that perfect plan and #1 response to what is time management turn into this?

THE REALITY

Man checking alarm in bed

You woke up at 7 a.m, but your lazy butt failed you again and didn’t actually leave the bed until 7:30. The post-gym coffee became a pre-gym coffee, and a quick hop onto Joe Rogan’s podcast (that didn’t at all suck you down a rabbit hole, did it?). A little jolt before a workout is necessary after all.

You arrived at the gym by 8:30 and slashed the routine in half to honor your schedule as best you could. Out of there by 9, you showered and ate by 10 o’clock.

Now you’ve got three solid hours to hammer out this proposal that’s due in five days–or was it six days? Except that mother hen just came knocking at your front door asking you for a little help moving her ginormous flower pots. Mental flashback to last week when she watched your kids because you were in a jam makes you grab your gloves and heave-hoe her pots from one corner of her front stoop to the other (kind of makes up for your morning gym sacrifice anyways).

You’re back staring at that blank-page proposal by 10:30 wishing brilliance to magically appear on the page because as your phone pings and your washing machine buzzes, it’s a spin cycle of interruption-distraction-spontaneous reassignment of priorities.

Right, when was that proposal due again?

A quick check to the calendar shows five days and–wait, something is showing for that afternoon highlighted the color of massacre for a good reason–the dentist at 2 p.m. Crap. At least you’ll be able to grab 30 minutes or so before the 4 o’clock meeting.

Except the dentist kept you waiting, as dentists do, and you didn’t start your call until 4:15. But it finished by the bargained-for 5 p.m., so you honored your schedule, right?

Well, not exactly. What should have been six hours of solid get-it-done action, in reality, was only 1.5 fickle hours spent trying to achieve something.

What happened to your beautiful what is time management example, formerly known as THE PLAN, is obvious, and probably familiar. The stuff of life comes up, and you have to respond. In other situations, you’re your own worst distraction (don’t blame Rogan).

The major gap between your plan and what really happened is what most people struggle with.

As it turns out, the question, what is time managment has more value than we thought. It just needs context.

What is time management when it comes to lifestyle versus business?

What is time management when both your neighbor AND your dentist monopolise your day?

Finding out where all those minutes and hours go is the single most important discovery in learning how to manage time more effectively. And it doesn’t just apply to your personal schedule. Your business is probably suffering too, and the larger your team, the worse it seems.

Before we get into how to manage time more effectively, let’s look at the dramatic outcomes a few really good strategies can produce.

What You Get Out of Learning How to Manage Time

You know why you want to learn how to manage YOUR time better. That’s obvious. You want to hang out with your kids more, get more golf days in, grow your business, feel like you can choose what to do with all that freedom.

Learning how to manage time gives you greater freedom to determine how, where, and when your stuff gets done so your quality of life is all around better.

But how does that translate to business? What are the benefits of time management for your company?

Enhanced productivity.
Better workplace morale.
Motivated, empowered colleagues.
Supercharged resource planning and scheduling.
More opportunities for creative expansion.
Deliverables actually delivered.
More projects executed.

The funny thing about time management at work is that it makes this trippy yoga-like flex move. In one context, a few minutes can stretch on for hours. In another, a few hours compresses into a few minutes.

This warped clock relates directly to quality and productivity. Focused work hours produce better results than semi-focused or multi-tasked hours. So if some tasks feel like they’re taking forever to complete, it’s because you’re caught in that spin cycle of interruption-distraction-time redistribution.

You’re focusing on too many things at once, or you need a little brush-up on how to manage time effectively. Productivity increases when you’re focused and true concentration occurs when you know that single activity is your only concern for the next hour or two.

Remember this: Time Management = Focus = Productivity = Better Business.

Where Does Time Go?

Business man in suit looking at watch

It doesn’t grow little legs, pop on its fedora and hit the road. There’s no one here to blame, but you, your life story, or the occasional contractor so don’t project time-management failure on someone else.

In this great discovery of how to manage time, you might be curious to find out how most people are wasting theirs.

If we told you toenail clipping was one such act of procrastination, would you believe us?

In our combined professional years, we’ve had the opportunity to realise a couple of things about time management.

First, most people don’t realise how much time they waste on personal habits.

Second, time management isn’t only about planning a schedule. Depending on how it’s done, planning can squander your time. Banging out a schedule of tasks makes you feel pretty accomplished, doesn’t it? Almost enough that you don’t have to actually carry them out. We tend to cram too much into a plan for the same reason, to feel like we’ve accomplished something.

Then we’re overwhelmed and stressed out, and stress amps up bad habits and kills productivity.

To grasp why time management techniques are so necessary, you first have to know what you’re losing all those minutes and hours too. Find out what the top procrastination activities are here.

But hey, let’s look at time management tips and solutions and not give too much attention to the problems right now.

How to Manage Time at Work

Use the right tools.

Everybody in the world has the same number of minutes. A somewhat humbling, uniting, equalising realisation, isn’t it?

It’s helpful to think of your day as a lemon when you’re learning how to manage time more effectively. You can cut it up and manually squeeze the heck out of it and end up with less juice than you’d get from using an actual juice squeezer, having spent more effort and sacrificing the juiciest parts of your day.

The takeaway? Get yourself a juice squeezer.

Use whatever tools are necessary and create the ideal space for getting your work done, whatever it is. Time management tools, such as time tracking software have excellent results. When you’re on the clock, whether it’s our own or someone else’s, you tend to work more efficiently.

Know your unbendables.

What dictates how you spend those hours in a week? What are your priorities and unbendable commitments? Those are the meat of your schedule, whether it’s business or personal. Prioritise those tasks and determine what you want to get out of each one.

With the rest, ask yourself, what is productive versus wasted use of your day. Some people think sleeping in is an extravagant misuse of daylight hours; that’s yours to determine. In learning how to manage time so you can make the most of your day, you get to decide what activities are important enough to slot into the gold nuggets of your clock.

If you’re biologically programmed to plan, keep it simple.

Some people need to keep to-do lists so if that’s you then honor that, but control the feisty urge to add tasks as a stand-in for accomplishing them.

Warren Buffet’s two-list strategy lends us a hand on how to manage time as simply as possible. He insists that we focus on our top five priorities out of a possible 25, and forget the rest until we complete those first five. So you can stop making those never-ending, time-sucking lists.

When you get down the minutiae of your plan, be definitive but realistic. Clearly label each task and, if it’s a team effort, make sure everyone understands it. Most importantly, be realistic about what you and your team can accomplish with your given resources.

Know your prime time.

Recognise when your low and high energy parts of the day and week are and plan your schedule accordingly. If one of your projects requires some dedicated mental energy, choose that part of the day when your mind is clearest and then set yourself up in a space that allows you to focus with as few distractions as possible.

NOTE: Your most productive time isn’t necessarily the early morning hours like some people claim. They’re morning people, and they only think they’ve conquered the world; the night owls believe the same thing, but they’re slightly more humble about it.

Just do it.

There’s a reason why Nike’s campaign became a globally ubiquitous statement back in 1988. It was simple (they didn’t use jerky words like ubiquitous), and it demanded we cut to the chase. Dreaming, thinking, conspiring, pondering, deliberating, ruminating, and planning are all great activities. We encourage them. But they remain in the meta-realm of fruition until you act. They also make great distractions that, like planning, make us feel like we’ve already achieved something.

So whether it’s your company’s accounting or getting to the gym, stop thinking about it and just do it. Save the think tank stuff for a meeting. Business and life guru Marie Forleo enlightens us with this: “Clarity comes from engagement, not thought.” Uncover the #1 productivity tool and best time management apps to get you running towards success.

Keep a Steady Beat

Post it note that says time for action in diary

Successful time management is not about how you plan out your days and weeks, but what you actually do with them. While that requires some forethought, there’s something far more influential: the ability to be present in every one of your tasks and make the right choices when distractions come up. So, one of your most effective workplace time management strategies is this:

BE HERE NOW.

Don’t be fooled. Time management is not a finite activity. Like a diet or weight loss program, you don’t stop when you’ve accomplished your goal, that is when you realise your business is excelling because you learned how to manage time effectively. That’s your most vulnerable point. Tasting that first sweet nectar of success makes you think you can slack a little (we’ve all done it), but that’s precisely when you need to work harder than ever to keep up the stride. It’s like meeting and maintaining your target heart rate for a while during your workout.

Tracking your time makes you aware of your time and it can help you better manage all you have to do. Thankfully there is an awesome tool called AVBTime that can help you do this. Get ready for better business and enhanced quality of life.

About the author

Colleen is part of our digital marketing team at AVBTime. Apart from helping grow our business online, Colleen loves to contribute to our AVBTime blog because she loves sharing her vast knowledge of technology, business development, and organisation with anybody willing to listen....or read.