It’s easy to let your time slip by. You get by doing just the minimum you need to keep your job and maintain your lifestyle, but at the end of each year, you look back and realize you haven’t accomplished much more than maintaining the status quo.
Even on a daily basis, you can have all sorts of grand plans about what you want to achieve and all the items you want to cross off your to-do list. But the end of the day comes, and you find that you’ve barely finished the first tasks on your list. The rest of your time was swallowed up by social media, email and aimless web surfing.
The trick to overcoming these issues is learning to manage your time.Why is time management important? It might not seem worth the…time, but time management is an incredibly valuable skill to learn, for these six reasons.
1. Producing Quality Work Takes Time
You can get a task done to the bare minimum, rushing to finish it at the last minute, but the product you end up with may not be the same quality as what you could have produced if you had given yourself adequate time to complete it.
This is where time management can revolutionize your work output. When you estimate how long it will really take for you to complete a task and then build in a buffer of extra time for any unexpected delays, you’ll be able to take the time you need to do the best work, instead of scrambling to get something done because you’ve run out of time.
2. Time Management Helps Lower Stress Levels
Sometimes, work is just stressful. Whether it’s a last minute revision request from a client, a coworker that’s difficult to get along with or technology not cooperating, you expect a certain amount of stress no matter what your job. But, often, we make work unnecessarily stressful through poor time management habits.
Think about the last time you had to stay late at the office (maybe even all night) to finish a project that was due. How much of that stress came about just because you didn’t plan the project better (if at all), or just because you were procrastinating?
When you manage your time effectively, you can dramatically lower your stress levels, approaching your work with composure as you finish at a reasonable time each day. You’ll feel better, and your health will improve as well.
3. Time Is a Limited Resource
“Dream as if you will live forever; live as if you will die today.” — James Dean
Day to day, it’s easy to feel that our time will go on forever. But each of us just has 24 hours each day — it’s the one thing that equalizes all people no matter how wealthy or successful. The key differentiator, then, is how you use the time you have. The practice of time management allows you to impose order on these 24 hours and maximize them as much as you can.
In particular, the key to maximizing this limited resource is to determine the difference between high priority tasks and low priority ones and then act accordingly. Once you’ve identified the high priority tasks, the ones that will advance your career or business or life, you should focus on them at the exclusion of the low priority ones. At the very least, you should complete high priority tasks first, saving the low priority ones for when your energy levels are also lower.
4. Achieve Career Success
Good time management skills are essential for career success. No matter what sort of career you want to have, managing your time effectively will allow you to achieve things that your peers never could. People who know how to manage their time consequently become better at goal setting, reaching goals that others could only dream of.
Furthermore, whether you’re looking to climb the corporate ladder or start your own business, time management is an essential leadership skill. If you can’t manage your time, then there’s no way you’ll be able to manage a team, let alone an entire company.
5. Find Better Focus
If you’re reading this site, you likely have lots of great ideas. But the struggle, as you know, is finding the focus to execute all of them. It’s all too easy to bounce from one idea to another, starting many projects but never finishing any.
When you learn to manage your time, you can overcome this focus issue. Organizing your time forces you to focus, both on a daily level and from a broader picture. You can decide, for example, that now is not the right time to start a new business; it would be better to focus on growing your existing one. Without proper time management, you’ll never gain the focus necessary to have these insights.
6. Effective Time Management Builds Self-Discipline
How many hours per day do you spend wasting time on social media or mindlessly checking your phone? Whatever the amount, you know that there’s a better use of your time than such unproductive, vaguely anxious activities, even if they’re part of your free time. But still, it can be hard to resist the pull of these quick dopamine hits of novelty and distraction. To resist, you need to change your habits and build self-discipline.
Time management, it turns out, is an excellent exercise for building self-discipline. When you give your day a definite structure instead of just “planning to get everything done,” you’ll become more disciplined as you stick to the schedule. With time, this extra structure will translate into other areas of your life, building up the self-discipline to resist even the strongest distractions and make better decisions.
Get Help Managing Time
We hope this article has given you a better understanding of why time management is so important for success in your career and happiness in your life. Yet, this is just the beginning. If you want more time management tips, then check out our articles on how to work effectively and how to use a productivity planner. And for a powerful time management tool, have a look at the SELF Journal.