Why Is Time Management Important? 10 Key Reasons & Tips

Updated Apr 26, 2023.
Why Is Time Management Important

As one of the most popular time management quotes says, “Time management is about life management.”

– Idowu Koyenikan.

Poor time management is like walking through a forest without a map. You keep on walking but never reach the right path. But the good news, we can unlearn those shallow work habits and manage time efficiently.

And this article is going to teach you:

  • What is time management?
  • How to prioritize your tasks with 4Ds
  • The importance of time management
  • Tips for managing your time effectively

After practicing these tips, you will be able to strike all your essential tasks off your to-dos, get your weekends back, and binge-watch your favorite TV shows without guilt.

Excited? Let’s begin!

What is Time Management?

Time management involves effective projects and task management to finish them before the deadline. It is an on-demand skill in the ever-changing world of distraction.

Good time management enables you to achieve personal and professional goals. You can maintain a work-life balance, be more productive, and live a stress-free life.

Yet, there is no one size fits all approach to this invaluable skill. And for effective implementation, you must understand its principles and importance.

The Four Ds of Time Management

We get thousands of task requests each week. And without planning which tasks to tackle first, things will be overwhelming.

The 4 Ds method helps us rank those work tasks into manageable chunks, first outlined in the book “The Power of Focus.”

This states that you must divide your important tasks among the 4 Ds – Delete, Delegate, Defer, and Do.

The popular Eisenhower Matrix also aligns with this formula.

How do you manage your time effectively with this method?

On a piece of paper, you can draw a matrix structure, as shown below. And now, let's divide your task list into these segments.

The Eisenhower Decision Matrix
Source: Big-agile

Do

In the first column, you must keep your tasks that are both urgent and important. These tasks need your immediate attention. You must “do it now.”

Examples: A presentation due at 4 pm today, a year-end report requested by your manager by 1 pm, or a team sync meeting at 9 pm.

Another way to define your “do” tasks is whether or not they take less than 2 minutes to complete. When you can accomplish a task within 2 minutes, you must do it immediately. Example: Putting your phone on charge.

Delay Defer or Decide

Next, decide which tasks are not urgent but important. These are high-value tasks that, if not scheduled, can’t be accomplished. And one day, they will be in the “Do” column, asking for your immediate attention.

Delay them until a less stressful day if there are no defined deadlines. Plan when you will start working on it.

Examples: auditing your finances, researching for an internship opportunity, or learning a new language.

Delegate

Are there tasks that are urgent but not important? Or it’s needed to be done but not by you. Delegate such tasks to make time for what matters to you.

Example: paying electricity bills, cooking meals, or analyzing sales numbers.

If you are a small business owner, some responsibilities can also be delegated to people who are experts. For example, writing copy for your new product campaign.

Drop or Delete

At the beginning or end, decide which tasks aren't urgent or important. For example, watching a cricket match or a movie or scrolling social media.

These might be a distraction from your most important tasks. So, either schedule them after work or drop them off.

Why is Time Management Important?

Time management is essential for several reasons. Here are 10 time management benefits that you must know to avoid guilt and regrets:

1. Protect Your Professional Reputation

When you effectively manage your time, you can

  • Deliver the promises
  • Achieve greater focus
  • Have a better professional life
  • Meet tight deadlines consistently
  • Avoid last-hour rushing and mistakes
  • Provide high-quality work without spending long hours in the office
  • Build trust among your employers and clients

All of these make you a reliable employee, increase productivity, and elevate your performance, leading to a better professional reputation in the workspace.

2. Eliminate Stress

Another benefit of time management skills is less stress. Stress isn’t entirely bad. Sometimes, we need to learn proper stress management to use it to get things done before the due date.

A study shows that the majority experiences a negative impact of stress on productivity.

Although there are no studies saying that stress increases productivity, we can use it to finish essential tasks. When your deadline is far away, you feel overrelaxed, and without proper planning, you procrastinate on the tasks till the end. Here, inducing stress can help you plan your execution.

In either case, an effective time management system reduces your stress levels and helps you be more productive.

3. Have a Better Work-Life Balance

One of the famous value of time quotes explains, “Own time or time will own you.” – Brian Norgard.

Effective time management has a great impact on building positive habits to protect your personal life.

Oftentimes, when we don’t time label and prioritize tasks, we end up doing unnecessary tasks in the beginning.

But good time managers schedule their important tasks in a way that helps them

  • Work smarter
  • Meet daily priorities
  • Go home on time and give enough time to important relationships
  • Setting boundaries

In short, managing time properly reduces stress and leads to a work-life balance for a fulfilling life.

4. Find Some Free Time for Things You Love

“We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own to-do list.”

~ Michelle Obama

Making time for the things we are passionate about is one of the key benefits of effective time management.

How many of us prioritize self-care and hobbies or block time to work on our projects?

Good time management enables us to

  • Identify time suckers
  • Schedule time for leisure activities like reading novels, watching movies, etc.
  • Prioritize health
  • Combine administrative tasks with something we love to do (e.g., Listening to audiobooks or podcasts)
  • Learn to say no

5. Enhance Creativity

Poor time management means we spend most of our precious energy completing tasks that aren’t meaningful.

Aftermath? Endless procrastination loop, missed deadlines, higher stress, and burnout.

And where is the space for creativity?

But effectively managing time can

  • Help you brainstorm new ideas for experimentation
  • Know your energy patterns to improve your creative spirit
  • Getting into a creative flow
  • Be beneficial in stress managing

6. Achieve Your Goals Faster

What if you are doing tasks that don’t belong to any of your goals? Can you fulfill your dreams?

That’s one of the important benefits of time management. Whenever you work smarter and have control over your time, you spend less time regretting it.

Goal setting and proper time management limit distractions and help us

  • Stay aware of our most productive time of the day
  • Break large projects into small chunks
  • Learning to say no
  • Have deep focusing time
  • Using technology for productivity
  • Delegating unimportant tasks, and
  • Journaling progress and staying accountable

7. Boost Your Self-Esteem

When you fail to complete your college assignments, you get poor grades. Similarly, when you continuously send work after a deadline, you feel guilty. And that guilt leads to more procrastination.

However, the greatest benefit of time management is that you can accomplish more and improve your self-esteem.

It is like a muscle. If you consistently set goals, prioritize everyday tasks, break down large tasks into chunks, and prioritize self-care, you will start feeling a sense of control over your life. Overall, when you spend time doing the right thing, you achieve great results and boost your self-esteem.

8. Reduce Procrastination

Effective time management skills teach you to minimize procrastination so that it won't affect your performance.

There are many reasons for procrastination. However, the major reasons could be

  • The difficulty of the task – too easy or too hard
  • Unclarity – Why, How, Where, and When to do it?

But the good news is that we can wage war on procrastination. And managing your time efficiently by breaking bigger tasks into smaller ones, setting deadlines, and giving yourself rewards could help you a lot with fighting procrastination.

9. Improve Your Decision-making Skills

Time management is one of the cornerstone habits that leads us to build other good habits. For example, time management helps you make better decisions.

How?

Effective time management includes

  • Prioritization – analyze your list and make a decision about which task is worth your time and energy
  • Less stress – less chaos as you already have a plan and you can make decisions with a clear mind
  • Reflection – when we make time to reflect on our decisions, we understand the mistakes and prepare for future decisions
  • Research and Plan – enough time to research and analyze help us make informed decisions and planning

10. Deepen Relationships

Feeling guilty for missing your wife’s birthday party? Or did you miss your kid’s football match? Poor time management can lead to more stressful events in life.

But it won't have to be this way forever. Effective time management skills teach you to

  • Prioritize life events so that your loved ones don’t feel neglected
  • Have time for important and sometimes difficult conversations
  • Can be available for people who matter most
  • Have a viable social life that leads to less stress and anxiety
  • Building trust among your people
  • Become more responsible and have an increased self-esteem

Good news! You can start implementing the time management tips below to have control of your time faster.

Tips for Managing Your Time More Effectively

Before discussing the various time management tips, let’s understand how time management systems work.

3 As for Success

According to a skills gap survey by IBM, successful time management involves 3 skills:

  1. Awareness – understanding your mistakes and observation
  2. Arrangement – Planning and taking action
  3. Adaptation – Reflection on actions and making adjustments

Most time management guides focus only on the “arrangement or planning” phase. That takes us nowhere.

Here, we are going to provide you with ten tips to be a more effective time manager by applying the 3 As.

1. Start With Awareness

Your arrangement skills won’t work unless you apply this important skill—awareness.

Here are 3 tips to polish your awareness skills:

1. Know your chronotype

Are you a morning person (lark) or a night person (owl)? Or you fall somewhere between the two—a third bird (like most people). These are the types of chronotypes.

But how do you know which one is yours?

Author Daniel Pink, in his book “When” explained,

“When you have a free day, and you don’t need to add an alarm clock to wake up to rush into work, “What would be your preferred time for going to sleep and waking up the next morning?”

All we need to know is our mid-point.

For example, if I went to sleep at midnight and woke up at 8 am, that means my mid-point is 4 am. Whatever it is for you, if it's before 3.30 am, you are a lark. Similarly, if your mid-point is after 5.30 am, you are an owl. But if your mid-point falls between 3.30 am and 5.30 am, you are a third bird.

Why is it important to know? That explains the next point!

2. Your energy pattern and timing

Do you know there is a relationship between perfect timing, energy, and productivity levels? The author, Daniel Pink, describes the scientific explanation of the “correct timing.”

The author explained, “What we see from the research is that we tend to move through the day in three stages – a peak, a trough, and a recovery. And most of us move through it in that order. Those of us who are strong night owls go in the reverse order.”

This is how our energy and mood patterns work throughout the day.

And according to the data collected from various research studies on the relationship between timing and quarterly earnings calls by CEOs, handwashing rates in hospitals, and grades of students, our performance is vastly impacted by the time of the day.

For larks and third birds, the morning hours are the peak time for accomplishing tasks that require intense focus (analytical tasks). Afternoon, when you experience energy level drops, is best for administrative tasks for everyone. And the evening is the best time for insight tasks (ex., brainstorming). Owls have exactly the opposite pattern as larks and third birds.

3. Busy or productive

Most of us have a fixed schedule for working in the office. We work for ten hours or more per day. But we were never able to achieve fulfillment.

If that’s your case, you are engaged in unproductive work. Yes, you are busy, but that's not productivity!

But how do you know?

The best way is “time tracking.” Just create a spreadsheet like the one below and start tracking what you are doing in between each hour.

Time Tracking Spreadsheet

And there is no right or wrong method of tracking how your time is going.

Whatever you use, stick to the system for at least a week. In the end, audit your tasks to see where you are spending most of your time.

To make it easier, you can use time-tracking software. This software allows you to

  • Track how much time it takes for you to accomplish certain tasks
  • How much time you are spending on entertainment or distractions during your work hours
  • And provides you with a report of how you've spent your time throughout the week.

2. Leverage Your Arrangement skills and Take Action

Now that you are in your planning phase, you need to simplify the process with the following tips that will help you accomplish more tasks with less effort.

4. Dump down all your tasks to a to-do-list

Author and trainer David Allen, in his book Getting Things Done (GTD), explains the benefits of keeping multiple in-baskets to list down tasks whenever they come.

In-baskets could be your phone’s notes app, a simple notepad, a sticky note, or a note-taking app like Notion, One Note, or Ever Note.

According to him, you must keep one in-basket in every possible location—your office desk, your home office, your kitchen, your car, etc. but try to minimize the in-baskets.

Here is a demonstration of the GTD system:

In his book “How to Become a Straight-A Student,” author Cal Newport describes a simple method to tackle those sudden tasks or projects that come to mind. You can carry a paper with your schedule and a “things to remember column.”

Whatever method you follow, make sure to write down all your tasks somewhere right at the time they pop up.

As you are done, now it's time to refine your to-do list to make time for the important tasks.

5. Make use of a calendar

If you have trouble managing multiple projects, you can

  • Jot down your due dates on a calendar
  • Time box important tasks and daily highlights

If you don’t get due dates for your projects or tasks? Remember Parkinson's law!

Parkinson’s law states that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” You might have experienced this before.

Parkinson’s Law
Source: Modelthinkers

Solution? Set your deadline at half the time allotted by your client or manager to complete the tasks without procrastinating. And in the end, you will have more time to improvise the work for quality.

Next step:

If you have multiple places (in-baskets) to write down your tasks, first transfer all of these to a big to-do list.

Now analyze the tasks with the 4 Ds. Finish tasks that take less than 2 minutes.

Are there tasks that require you to finish multiple subtasks? Categorize them as projects and schedule an execution day on your calendar.

Delegate tasks that don’t require YOUR attention.

Incubate things that could be helpful in the future. Have you noticed a few of them are just ideas or references for other tasks? You can either delete them or store them in a reference folder.

Do this process once per week. For urgent tasks with a due date, transfer those tasks to the beginning of each day in your calendar.

6. Daily planning and taking action

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney

Source: Productivity Quotes

The night before or at the beginning of each morning, have a look at your calendar. Check your scheduled meetings, your assignment due dates, and your available free time.

Now make a schedule with time labels or block time on your calendar like this:

The right estimation is the key here. But how can you estimate a task if you are doing it for the first time? Simple. Ask your colleagues, friends, or anyone who is experienced.

Otherwise, start tracking that task with a time-tracking tool like Toggle Track or Clockify.

Now take action!

7. Make adjustments whenever needed

Life is uncertain, and so are our days. What if you got an announcement about a sudden product development meeting? What if your stomach got upset during work? What if you have a family emergency?

No matter how much planning you do, things will keep coming up. So, always be ready to make changes to your schedule.

As you have a plan, you can now easily move a few tasks from a one-time slot to another and still complete tasks on time.

8. Fight distraction

According to Cal Newport,

High Quality Work Produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of focus)

Thus, it’s not just about the amount of time you spend on a project but also the intensity of your focus.

But how can we focus deeply on tasks when there is so much distraction?

Here are a few ways to tackle distractions:

  • Learn to say no – if something doesn't worth your time, say no! It can be a party invitation, a sudden work request from a colleague, or help for your friend.
  • Turn your notifications off – your emails, social media, and general phone notifications could be the reason why you don’t have enough time. So, hack back and turn them off until you complete your most important tasks of the day.
  • Use focus music or white noise – Now, some offices have an open workspace, and some people have started working from home post-pandemic. And it could be distracting too. So, what can you do? Use focus music!
  • Write your distractions down – It can be an idea, a task, a question, or a craving for social media. Just put it into the paper and say to yourself, “I'm going to have a look at these once I complete this task.”

But remember, the trigger for distraction starts in the human mind.

9. Handle stress

One major reason for stress: worrying about things (problems or strict deadlines).

In his book, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living,” author Dale Carnegie explained, “You cannot continue to worry when you relax.”

So, taking a rest in the middle of work is one of the easiest ways to keep from being fatigued and worried.

Below are a few points to recharge yourself even during your low-energy hours:

  • Take a nap – take a short 15-25 min nap in the middle of long focus hours.
  • Try progressive muscle relaxation – Progressive muscle relaxation involves gradual relaxation of your facial muscles, your upper body, your lower body, and at the end, your thoughts. The entire process takes only 5 mins to help you fall asleep and feel refreshed.
  • Meditate or take deep breaths – If you don’t have much time, just close your eyes and count your breaths. Or just take 3-4 deep breaths and relax your entire body.
  • Take a walk or do stretching – Nowadays, we are sitting for long hours, which causes muscle stiffness. And taking a walk away from your phone or doing a few stretches can help you fight fatigue while relaxing and energizing your muscles.
  • Be mindful – Be mindful when you are worrying.

Taking frequent breaks can feel time-consuming. But actually, it adds more productive hours to your day, improves your productivity, and prevents burnout.

3. Adaptation (Reflect and Adjust)

The adaptation step is often the most underestimated skill that lets you discover the best system for you. And here is a way to reflect on your progress with your time management system.

10. Keep a work journal

So, is it working for you?

In the end, all that matters is how well you can experiment with different approaches and adapt to the one that suits you.

For that purpose, you can keep a work journal and write down a few of your most important tasks. Before you go to sleep, have a look to see if you have finished the tasks.

Add some remarks on how many tasks you have completed and what remains. If you are unable to finish one, write down “why.”

You can casually check the journal once in a while to see

  • the reasons for procrastination
  • what mistakes you are making more often
  • how you can perform better

If it’s not working for you, experiment with a new system and keep on adapting!

Good Time Management Helps Us Maintain Control In Life

Time management is a key aspect of our lives for achieving our personal and professional goals.

Proper time management skills and working smarter enable us to

  • Prioritize tasks
  • Handle multiple projects
  • Focus deeply
  • Avoid distractions
  • Have a work-life balance
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve creativity
  • Avoid financial penalties
  • Have time for what matters

In short, time management is important to help us live a more fulfilling life.

Moreover, today's fast-paced world requires us to walk with time. And with the right mindset, a framework that suits us, and the necessary tools, anyone can master this precious commodity.

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Anastasia Belyh

Editor at FounderJar

Anastasia has been a professional blogger and researcher since 2014. She loves to perform in-depth software reviews to help software buyers make informed decisions when choosing project management software, CRM tools, website builders, and everything around growing a startup business.

Anastasia worked in management consulting and tech startups, so she has lots of experience in helping professionals choosing the right business software.