Table of Contents Hide
- 6 Basic Time Management Principles
- Principles of time management for students
- Principles of Time Management in Nursing
- To Sum Up
If I am asked to say about the principles of time management, in one sentence, I would answer – set a goal and plan a time to work for it with full focus.
Before we delve into the principles of time management, let’s get a basic idea about the term ‘principle’ in the perspective of time management.
According to the Oxford dictionary, the meaning of principle is – “a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.” or, “a rule or belief governing one’s personal behavior.” 1
6 Basic Time Management Principles
There have some basic rules to manage time effectively. By understanding the rules, you’ll be able to set your schedule efficiently, be more productive and lead a balanced life. In this article, you’ll learn 6 basic time management principles that will help you achieve more with less stress.
1. Be goal-oriented
To be successful in life you should be aware of the tasks and time you have. Plan tasks to achieve your goal and utilize time to do goal-driven tasks. A well-defined goal will motivate you to work hard to reach to aim.
If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things. – Albert Einstein
When you have an aim in your life, it will be easier for you to remain focused and work for it until the goal is achieved. Without having any aim, people tend to work slowly and get less accomplished in a day or in their life.
Successful people are absolutely goal-oriented and they constantly work toward the goal. Therefore, it is important to be goal-oriented. Learn how to set a SMART goal that will represent your successful life.
To succeed in your aim, breakdown large tasks into small and manageable tasks. Plan tasks as minor goals for a day and set a time limit to get the tasks done.
2. Have a plan
Failing to plan is planning to fail. – Alan Lakein
Planning is one of the most important principles of time management. If you don’t have any plan for the day about where to go, what to do and how to do a task, chances are you’ll lose a lot of time wondering what you should be working. And you’ll lose your efficiency as well.
With a plan you’ll be able to get started a task easily, finish it and move on to the next task quickly.
Everyone has their own style of work and method of planning. The basic planning process involves – monthly, weekly and daily plan. There are various planning apps available online and a few of them are Google Calendar, Trello, Todoist.
The offline tools you can use – notebooks, pocket diaries, index cards, etc. Whatever the planning tool you use, keep it simple.
Here are a few things you can follow while you’re using a planning tool –
- Carry the planning tool always with your and record all the tasks on the tools.
- Categorize and organize tasks according to importance and relevance. Prioritize high-value tasks and plan to accomplish 2 of them in a day.
- Set up a monthly goal and break it down into manageable tasks for weekly and daily plans.
- At the end of the day, track the progress of your goal and plan tasks for the next day.
- When you plan, consider possible obstacles in mind about doing a task and keep an alternative plan in mind.
Planning in advance will help you improve your personal efficiency regarding the effective use of time.
3. Be organized
Being organized is one of the key factors to achieve maximum efficiency in time management. You’ll need to do this in different aspects of your life.
- Your workplace – keep files, pen, pencil, note and other available at hand, so that you can finish a task in less time and energy with fewer distractions.
- Your working devices – Keep your PC clean by placing all files in the right folders. The same goes for your mobile phone. Declutter unnecessary messages, photos, and other stuff regularly. It will save your time from needless searching.
- Your email inbox – Unsubscribe from the non-essential email list and organize emails by labels. Also, organize bookmarks and passwords.
- Your schedule – Plan your activities focusing on your goal. Use prioritization and delegation skills and try to organize a schedule for high-value tasks. With an organized schedule, there will be little wasted time between two activities.
- Your finances – Keep track of expenses and incomes using an app or a spreadsheet and manage your financial files in one place. These steps will keep you stress free about your financial life.
Organizing things, in the beginning, take some time, but it is a onetime process. Later you’ll be able to save a lot of time in your daily work. Also, you can avoid procrastination.
4. Practice single-tasking
Single-tasking is a highly effective way to reduce the amount of time we spend to do a task. On the other hand, multitasking gives the illusion of hard work, but it makes us less productive.
When we are trying to do multiple tasks simultaneously, we are actually switching attention from one task to another.
Because of the mental shifts, our cognitive process slows down and that results in efficient performance and wasted time.
When we think we’re multitasking we’re actually multi switching. That is what the brain is very good at doing – quickly diverting its attention from one place to the next. We think we’re being productive. We are, indeed, being busy. But in reality, we’re simply giving ourselves extra work. ― Michael Harris
Here are 2 things to do to develop the habit of single-tasking –
- Set a timer before you start any work. Then continue working on it until the bell of the timer rings. You can take the help of a Pomodoro timer.
- Keep your cell phone in silent mode and put it away from you while you are working. Turn off email and social media notifications from your computer (if you are working on a computer).
When you practice doing one thing at a time for a few days, it will become your habit eventually.
Our brain functions in a better way when we concentrate on a single thing at a time. By practicing a single task you will be able to get a job done quickly, correctly and efficiently.
5. Form good habits
Having good habits is one of the key principles of time management. With good habits, you can manage time easily and successfully.
On the other hand, bad habits will make it harder to achieve your goal. Even you have to give more effort and time to combat those bad habits. Some bad habits are procrastination, poor focus, not being organized. Even some bad working habits keep you busy but make you less productive.
Therefore, it is important to develop good habits to manage time effectively.
- Be healthy – eat healthily, exercise regularly and sleep properly so that you can do well in your working time.
- Get organized – follow proper filing system and keep stationary available at hand, it will help you to accomplish a task by spending less time and energy.
- Be stress fee – avoid doing overwork and working for long hours. Take breaks frequently, preferably at least 5 minutes in every hour to avoid burnout.
- Be judicious – stop wasting time watching TV, reading unnecessary news, scrolling down social network feed. Spend time wisely and spend it on high-value tasks.
- Be disciplined – plan your day in advance. Responding to emails, checking social media notifications, meetings, and errands – everything should be on schedule. Discipline in the schedule will prevent you to procrastinate and take impulsive action throughout the day.
6. Manage distractions
In this technology-reliant world, being focused is a big challenge for us. Therefore, an essential principle of time management is to manage distractions. After the battle with procrastination to begin a work, we need to fight against distractions to continue the work and finish it at the right time. How to win the battle against the interruptions around you?
Here are some tips that will help you manage distractions –
- Manage your phone: Don’t let phone calls and massages distract you from doing the task at hand. Keep it in a silent mood and put it away in working time. Stop the habit of checking the phone every 10 minutes without any reason.
- Manage browsing habits: Impulsive browsing and Googling everything whatever comes into mind are the signs of bad browsing habits. When you are working on the computer, avoid checking social media feed, notifications, answering the messages and attending every email as it comes in.
- Manage external distractions: Find a quiet place to work – en empty room in the office or a locked room at home. Wear a noise-canceling headset if you are working in a cubicle.
A focused work toward a goal will let you get the most of your time and you’ll get the more done end of a day.
Principles of time management for students
Time management principles for students are not the same as principles of time management in business or in general life. Students need to balance their activities around classes, study, assignments, socializing and exploring opportunities.
Therefore, it is vital for them to know how to create a daily routine and plan a schedule focusing their aim, so that they can utilize their time, energy and resources effectively. Beside 6 basic time management principles, they need to act upon 3 more fundamentals in their life.
1. Set study time carefully
Consider ‘biological prime time’ to set study time in routine. This is the time when you are more alert, energetic and work best with full focus. Plan critical and attention-demanding study at this time. Use downtimes for laundry, typing, errands and for other tasks that need less concentration.
2. Use waiting time productively
While you are waiting for another class or at a bus stop, utilize the time for your personal growth. Pay attention to these kinds of waiting times and spend the time reading a motivational book, listening podcast, reviewing your plan and relaxing. Instead of wasting those little chunks of time gossiping or playing with your smartphone, utilize that time productively.
3. Set your schedule realistically
It is essential to be disciplined and have a schedule, but it shouldn’t be tight enough that seizes your freedom. Set a realistic schedule that has a good combination of study time, downtime, a fun time and socialization. Even be prepared to spend time to attend special events and unusual occurrences.
Principles of Time Management in Nursing
The most challenging part of the nursing job is the rapid change of a to-do list. Your priorities may change rapidly when a patient needs your attention urgently. Therefore, it becomes difficult to predict, plan and prioritize. However, time management works everywhere; you just need to be strategic to manage time wisely.
There are two additional time management principles in nursing to keep in mind along with other principles – planning, prioritizing, being organized and focused.
1. Be flexible
Sudden deterioration, deaths and new admissions need prompt action and become the first priority, no matter the task you have in your to-do list. Because of this unpredictable nature of the nursing job, the profession requires adaptability and flexibility. Focus on the highest priority task for the day and complete them when you have time. If necessary, refresh your priorities.
2. Learn to delegate
One of the key time management skills is delegation. In nursing, you are allowed to delegate some of your tasks under a certain framework. There are 5 rights of delegation in nursing – right task, right circumstances, right person, right direction and right evaluation.
Therefore, learn to assign the right task to the right person under the right circumstance maintaining the right communication and evaluation. The right way of the delegation will help you accomplish more tasks during the shift.
To Sum Up
There have hundreds of tips, techniques, methods, skills to manage time better. But everything relies upon these basic principles. If these principles are followed properly, time management endeavor will be achieved successfully.
Footnote: 1. https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/principle