Motivation and emotion/Book/2011/Time management

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Time management:
What are the secrets of successful time management?
Epiphany-bookmarks.svg This page is part of the Motivation and emotion book. See also: Guidelines.

Overview[edit | edit source]

Time manages to escape everyone at some point or another. The notion of there just not being enough time in a day is a phrase perhaps uttered by everyone in their life at least once. Time is a unique commodity that everyone has continuous access to regardless of any feature, circumstance or attributes attaining to that individual. Although it is true we cannot impact time no matter how hard we try, we cannot slow it down, speed up or create more of it. We are not able to save time from one day to use it for the next, it escapes us or runs out without us even being aware of it. It is therefore essential that we learn how to manage time effectively making the most of the short 24 hours in each day. Research on time management has developed six secrets essential to time management (Farroq, Rehmani & Afridi, 2010):

  1. Setting personal goals is crucial to time management
  2. Procrastination is probably the largest obstacle to time management
  3. Properties[explain?] must be categorised and evaluated
  4. Proper communications are essential to good use of time
  5. The realisation that the way we spend our time is largely habitual in nature
  6. Balance

Goal setting[edit | edit source]

Terborg (1976) found that participants whom had goals assigned to them were more likely to remember and implement strategies for particular tasks in comparison to those who did not have goals assigned to them. Goals have the ability to provide structure and higher levels of intrinsic motivation, which is a behaviour performed for its own sake (Deci, 1975). Strickland and Galimba (2001) discovered that participants who set self-goals were less likely to become distracted, switch activities or tasks and waste time. These participants were also more likely to achieve completion of multiple tasks if asked to do so. Therefore, in order to improve one's time management the setting of personal goals is highly beneficial.

Personal goals can be daily, weekly, yearly or even longer, however, the more goals you set yourself the more focussed your drive will be to reaching those goals. You can start by setting a goal for your next assessment, perhaps you want to achieve at least a credit mark, perhaps you want your boss to acknowledge your work or perhaps you want the house to be clean for a certain time. Set yourself these goals, monitor your progress, cross of completed ones or highlight more important ones. These simple things will allow you to manage your time more efficiently and achieve your goals without becoming too distracted.

Goal Setting Tool Kit

Procrastination[edit | edit source]

Procrastination can occur not only subconsciously but consciously as well, perhaps you are not aware of the amount of time spent wasted. A way to determine the amount of time wasted is to make a time log, an example of this can be seen below. The main causes of procrastination (Smith, 2011) include:

  • Technology distractions
  • Work commitments
  • Failure to delegate
  • Personal style issues

Technology, including mobile phones, landlines, work lines, email etcetera are sneaky procrastination tools that most people would be shocked to discover the amount of time actually spent on these electronic devices[factual?]. Individuals must learn to prioritise. Contrary to popular belief, missing a phone call, delaying a text message or not checking your face book every 10 seconds will not be the end of the world, nor make you a social outcast, nor be the end of any future prospects regarding work or social life.

Work commitments are another excuse used to assist procrastination[factual?]. Perhaps you feel as though you won’t start your assignment till after work, but the after work you realise you are too tired and will start in the next day and so on. Obviously work attendance is necessary, but learning the ability to schedule around working hours will improve your work output. Knowing your general mood before and after work is a probability[explain?], so make a schedule to optimise your time in between and that will be most beneficial to the work that needs to be done.

The failure to delegate is not so much of a procrastination technique, however a time waster all the same[grammar?]. Take a look at the work that needs to be done, decide whether other people, different hours of the day or different approaches would be best suited for different elements of the work needed to be completed.

Finally, personal style issue is an issue that affects everyone, although some may not admit it. Individuals susceptible to this accessory to time management suffer from personal distractions constantly throughout the day whether it is gossip, rumours, lunch invitations, or other activities outside the work environment. Whilst these distractions at the time may se unavoidable and harmless, the time accumulated between these amounts to quite a lot.

Time Activity Description Duration Value (High, Medium, or Low)
10:00am exercised one hour Medium
12:30pm had lunch with friends two hours Low
4:00pm studied for exam one hour High
6:00pm watched television one and a half hours Low

Time Management Log Template

Categorising and evaluating properties[edit | edit source]

Properties[say what?] must be categorised and evaluated, this is important as it allows individuals to determine which tasks are more important or difficult, which tasks are similar and which tasks are at what level of completion(Mechant, Zarco, Bartolo & Prado, 2008). Determining the difficulty of tasks helps with time management as it will allow more time to be allocated to difficult tasks earlier on, reducing the risks of cramming and handing in poor work. This will also mean you will not have to dedicate all your time to this one particular assessment neglecting everything else for a few days.

Grouping similar tasks is also helpful with time management as it allows your brain to continue on a certain wave length (Merchant, et. al., 2008), for example if you have two psychology papers due and one law paper, it would be wise to do the two psychology papers together as referencing, structure and sources are the same then to switch back and fourth from psychology to law back to psychology. The evaluation of tasks allows individuals to determine how much progress has been made and the quality of the work produced. This will increase motivation and allow a decent perspective to be formed on how much work is left[factual?].

Communication[edit | edit source]

Proper communications are essential to good use of time (Bruni, Laupacis, Levinson & Martin, 2010). There is no point in sitting at your desk, racking your brain trying to determine what and how a task is done simply off memory as this will wasted much time and effort. This is why it is important to communicate, not only with bosses, lecturers, tutors and other peers, but successful communication through the library, internet sources, etc. Successful communication will not only give you a clearer idea of what is expected to be achieved but it will also help you manage your time as you will be able to schedule the time needed for certain tasks once all the details are known.

Appropriate uses of resources will also allow you to disregard useless information and only retain that which is beneficial which will inturn save you time as you will not be pouring through endless amounts of paper work. Therefore it is important to access communications available to produce maximum time management efficiency[factual?].

Time habits[edit | edit source]

There are certain times of the day we spend eating, some showering, some sleeping, although this may vary slightly from day to day the average time these activities are completed is based on habit. Therefore is can be seen that the idea that the way we spend our time is largely habitual in nature can be fairly easily demonstrated[factual?].

To further this, in a more work applicable setting, University students aged 18 to 25 yeras are much more likely to go out on Thursdays, however, mature age students are less likely too[factual?]. Therefore a younger student who has an exam on Monday may study Tuesday Wednesday and Sunday, where as a mature age student would have Tuesday through to Sunday to study. This is not to say a younger student would not study as much, however studying as these times would be out of habit and therefore may find it harder to concentrate. This[what?] was demonstrated in a study that showed individuals with stable more frequent study habits were less likely to waste their time and produce work more efficiently (Young, Drought & Bergstresser, 1937). In order to improve one's study habits, it must be done gradually and repetitively[factual?]. There is no point to study four hours a day six days a week immediately when previously only an hour two days a week was achieved. Slowly improve your study times, and the amount of days per week, eventually you will become accustomed to studying at particular times and your time management for study or work will improve. If you feel you are unable to do this, better manage your time by picking the times of the day you are most cognitively alert for work, the times you are most relaxed for leisure, most energetic for socialising etc. This will allow you to maximise time efficiency by being in your comfort zone reducing the amount of concentration needed to focus on task.

Balance[edit | edit source]

Relating to certain times of the day being better for certain activities, balance is essential to develop a good work-life balance in order to reduce stress maximise time management and efficiency whilst maintaining and enjoyable personal/social life (Naithani, 2010). However, it is difficult to not only create a good balance but maintain one. It becomes easy for procrastination to sneak into your balancing, but here is where the time management log can help, as well as the goal setting tool kit listed above. Delegate certain times for work and other activities, and try not to stray from the plan, if distractions occur make up the time you lost. Reward yourself after doing some work, go see friends, get some sun however to this in limitations. If you reduce your pleasure activities to only being rewards after you do work, your work time will increase essentially freeing up more time for leisure later on. This is known as extrinsic motivation (Ryan, 2000), partaking in activities in order to achieve outside rewards and benefits.

Perceived control of time[edit | edit source]

Finally, a common deviant of time management is that each individual possesses a “Perceived control of time” which relates to an individual's perception of having enough time, and enough ability to meet a deadline. This concept was introduced by Macan, Shahani, Dipboye, and Phillips,(1990). This variable of time management also includes constructs such as the ability to keep schedules, the ability to partake in procrastination, all whilst continuing to believe time is on their side. It is important to estimate how much time must be delegated for each task, use previous experiences, estimations given to you and so on. Monitor how much time is left, how much work has been done and how much time has been wasted. This will give you a clearer idea of how much time you will need to accomplish the task, given the amount of time spent on work and play as far.

Motivation[edit | edit source]

However, it is not simply knowing the secrets to time management that will make you become the most organised, efficient and reliable person in the universe. The want has to be there, and this comes from intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. However, as intrinsic motivation is the internal desire, it can be argued that if time management is an issue, intrinsic motivation may be lacking, and extrinsic motivation towards other aspects such as socialising may be too high. It may therefore be necessary to evaluate one's intrinsic and extrinsic motivations towards aspects of their life and which ones need improving.

Intrinsic motivation[edit | edit source]

Intrinsic motivation attains the natural human desire to want to succeed and learn to essentially better themselves, be able to adapt and assimilate with an evolving society (Ryan et al., 2000). The Intrinsic Motivation Inventory (IMI) is a multidimensional device that assesses individuals interest and enjoyment on certain tasks, perceived competence, effort, pressure/tension and perceived choice. For more information on the IMI or to measure ones intrinsic motivation please visit:

Intrinsic Motivation Inventory

Intrinsic motivation will be affected if scores are low on elements in the IMI. By breaking up the inventory elements and looking at them closer it is easy to see how such elements can be manipulated to increase scores and inturn increase intrinsic motivation. For example if it is an extremely dull task, try to spice it up – get creative! Ask people for help, get all the information you need to boost your perceived competence, know that you can do it. Try to apply yourself, the more effort you put in the more you will get out of it, and remember to stay relaxed. Organising yourself will reduce pressure and tension, also break up tasks whether it be an assignment or a catering job, identifying the aspects that need to be focused on and making them smaller and more specific will make it easier. By increasing such internal elements the probability of your intrinsic motivation increasing rises, giving you the ability to stay focussed, manage your time efficiently and stay calm and happy within yourself[factual?].

Extrinsic motivation[edit | edit source]

Extrinsic motivation refers to behaviours that are executed in order to achieve the benefits and rewards – a means to an end. These behaviours are not done for their own sake but for what they can potentially attain once completed (Deci, 1975). Deci (1975) states that extrinsic motivation has essentially three elements:

  • External regulation - which relates to rewards and constraints, for example getting fit to look better and buy more clothes (reward) or studying because your mum wouldn’t let you socialize until your exam was finished (constraint)
  • Introjection – internal reasoning of the persons actions such as, I should help the old lady with her groceries because that’s the right thing to do and what respectable people do.
  • Identification – internalizing continues until the behaviour is judged and deemed important to the individual, until the behaviour is not completed because that is the right thing to do, but because it is the right thing for YOU to do.

Therefore, to increase extrinsic motivation offer yourself rewards for delegating certain amounts of time for less desirable activities. Explain to yourself why a task must be performed to enhance identification until the behaviour is deemed to be important to you and allocating time for it won’t seem as trivial. This will help motivate you to be more efficient with your time management.

Summary[edit | edit source]

The secrets to successful time management include, personal goal setting, acknowledging and limiting procrastination, categorising and evaluating properties of certain tasks, utilising proper communications, understanding that the way we spend time is habitual, and finally attaining a healthy balance between work and life. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation cannot be ignored, as they will give you the drive to organise your time and delegate time for certain avoidable tasks. Use measures to test your motivations and take the necessary steps to improve them. If all these steps are carefully monitored and attempted you will successfully be managing your time efficiently.

References[edit | edit source]

Bruni, R., Laupacis, A., Levinson, W. & Martin, D., (2010) Public views on a wait time management initiative: a matter of communication. BMC Health Services Research, 10, 228-236

Deci, E. L., (1975). Intrinsic motivation. New York: Plenum Press.Farroq, S., rehmani, R. & Afridi, S., (2010) Enhance productivity adeffiency with time management. European Journal of Scientific Research, 43(2), 252-255

Macan, T. H., Shahani, C., Dipboye, R. L., & Phillips, A. P., (1990). College students’ time management:Correlations with academic performance and stress. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 760–768

Merchant, H., Zarco, W., Bartolo, R. & Prado, L., (2008) The context to temporal processing is represented in the multi-dimensional relationships between timing tasks. Plos One, 3(9), 1-9

Naithani, P (2010) Overview of work-life balance discourse and its relevance in current economic scenario. Asian Social Science, 6(6), 148-155

Ryan, R., & Deci, E.L., (2000) Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: classic definitions and new directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25(1), 54-67

Smith, J. (2011) Finding a moment to change the future. Journal for Quality and Participation, 33(4), 4-6

Strickman, O. & Galimba, M. (2001) Managing time: the effects of personal goal setting on resource allocation strategy and task performance. Journal of Psychology, 135(4), 357-367

Terborg, J. R. (1976). The motivational components of goal setting. Journal of Applied Psychology, 61, 613–621.

Young, K., Drought, N. & Bergstresser, J. (1937) Social and emotional adjustments of freshmen at the university of Wisconsin. American Sociological Review, 2(2), 166-177

External links[edit | edit source]