Time management is the process of planning and exercising conscious
control of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase
effectiveness, efficiency or productivity. It is a juggling act of
various demands of study, social life, employment, family, and
personal interests and commitments with the finiteness of time. Using
time effectively gives the person "choice" on spending/ managing
activities at their own time and expediency.
It is a meta-activity with the goal to maximize the overall benefit of
a set of other activities within the boundary condition of a limited
amount of time, as time itself cannot be managed because it is fixed.
Time management may be aided by a range of skills, tools, and
techniques used to manage time when accomplishing specific tasks,
projects, and goals complying with a due date. Initially, time
management referred to just business or work activities, but
eventually the term broadened to include personal activities as well.
A time management system is a designed combination of processes,
tools, techniques, and methods.
Time management is usually a necessity
in any project development as it determines the project completion
time and scope.
The major themes arising from the literature on time management
include the following:
Creating an environment conducive to effectiveness
Setting of priorities
Carrying out activity around prioritization.
The related process of reduction of time spent on non-priorities
Incentives to modify behavior to ensure compliance with time-related
Time management is related to different concepts such as:
Time management can be considered to be a project
management subset and is more commonly known as project planning and
Time management has also been identified as one of
the core functions identified in project management.
Attention management relates to the management of cognitive resources,
and in particular the time that humans allocate their mind (and
organize the minds of their employees) to conduct some activities.
Organizational time management is the science of identifying, valuing
and reducing time cost wastage within organizations. It identifies,
reports and financially values sustainable time, wasted time and
effective time within an organization and develops the business case
to convert wasted time into productive time through the funding of
products, services, projects or initiatives at a positive return on
1 Creating an effective environment
2 Setting priorities and goals
2.1 ABCD analysis
2.2 Pareto analysis
2.3 The Eisenhower Method
2.4 Domino reaction method
2.5 POSEC method
2.6 Implementation of goals
2.7 Task list organization
2.8 Software applications
Time management systems
2.9.1 GTD (Getting Things Done)
3 Elimination of non-priorities
3.1 Study time
4 See also
6 Further reading
7 External links
Creating an effective environment
Some[which?] time-management literature stresses tasks related to the
creation of an environment conducive to "real" effectiveness. These
strategies include principles such as:
"get organized" - the triage of paperwork and of tasks
"protecting one's time" by insulation, isolation and delegation
"achievement through goal-management and through goal-focus" -
"recovering from bad time-habits" - recovery from underlying
psychological problems, e.g. procrastination
Writers[who?] on creating an environment for effectiveness refer to
such matters as having a tidy office or home for unleashing
creativity, and the need to protect "prime time". Literature[which?]
also focuses on overcoming chronic psychological issues such as
Excessive and chronic inability to manage time effectively may result
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention
deficit disorder (ADD). Diagnostic criteria
include a sense of underachievement, difficulty getting organized,
trouble getting started, trouble managing many simultaneous projects,
and trouble with follow-through.[page needed] Some
authors[which?] focus on the prefrontal cortex which is the most
recently evolved part of the brain. It controls the functions of
attention span, impulse control, organization, learning from
experience and self-monitoring, among others. Some authors[quantify]
argue that changing the way the prefrontal cortex works is possible
and offer a solution.
Setting priorities and goals
"Task list" and "To do list" redirect here. For the application in
Windows XP, see Windows Task Manager. For the 2013 American film, see
The To Do List.
Time management strategies are often associated with the
recommendation to set personal goals. The literature stresses themes
"Work in Priority Order" - set goals and prioritize
"Set gravitational goals" - that attract actions automatically
These goals are recorded and may be broken down into a project, an
action plan, or a simple task list. For individual tasks or for goals,
an importance rating may be established, deadlines may be set, and
priorities assigned. This process results in a plan with a task list
or a schedule or calendar of activities. Authors may recommend a
daily, weekly, monthly or other planning periods associated with
different scope of planning or review. This is done in various ways,
A technique that has been used in business management for a long time
is the categorization of large data into groups. These groups are
often marked A, B, and C—hence the name. Activities are ranked by
these general criteria:
A – Tasks that are perceived as being urgent and important,
B – Tasks that are important but not urgent,
C – Tasks that are unimportant but urgent,
D - Tasks that are unimportant and not urgent.
Each group is then rank-ordered by priority. To further refine the
prioritization, some individuals choose to then force-rank all "B"
items as either "A" or "C". ABC analysis can incorporate more than
ABC analysis is frequently combined with Pareto analysis.[citation
This is the idea 80% of tasks can be completed in 20% of the
disposable time. The remaining 20% of tasks will take up 80% of the
time. This principle is used to sort tasks into two parts. According
to this form of
Pareto analysis it is recommended that tasks that fall
into the first category be assigned a higher priority.
The 80-20-rule can also be applied to increase productivity: it is
assumed that 80% of the productivity can be achieved by doing 20% of
the tasks. Similarly, 80% of results can be attributed to 20% of
activity. If productivity is the aim of time management, then these
tasks should be prioritized higher.
It depends on the method adopted to complete the task. There is always
a simpler and easier way to complete the task. If one uses a complex
way, it will be time consuming. So, one should always try to find out
alternative ways to complete each task.
The Eisenhower Method
A basic "Eisenhower box" to help evaluate urgency and importance.
Items may be placed at more precise points within each quadrant.
The "Eisenhower Method" stems from a quote attributed to Dwight D.
Eisenhower: "I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the
important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never
Using the Eisenhower Decision Principle, tasks are evaluated using the
criteria important/unimportant and urgent/not urgent, and then
placed in according quadrants in an Eisenhower Matrix (also known as
an "Eisenhower Box" or "Eisenhower Decision Matrix"). Tasks are
then handled as follows:
Important/Urgent quadrant are done immediately and personally e.g.
crises, deadlines, problems.
Important/Not Urgent quadrant get an end date and are done
personally e.g. relationships, planning, recreation.
Unimportant/Urgent quadrant are delegated e.g. interruptions,
Unimportant/Not Urgent quadrant are dropped e.g. time wasters,
pleasant activities, trivia.
This method is said to have been used by U.S. President Dwight D.
Domino reaction method
This is the idea that there are actions that you invest in once and
which produce over time in different channels. Writing a book is such
an action, because it requires a one-time effort, and once you finish
it, it continues serving you.
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POSEC is an acronym for "Prioritize by Organizing, Streamlining,
Economizing and Contributing". The method dictates a template which
emphasizes an average individual's immediate sense of emotional and
monetary security. It suggests that by attending to one's personal
responsibilities first, an individual is better positioned to shoulder
Inherent in the acronym is a hierarchy of self-realization, which
mirrors Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs:
Prioritize - Your time and define your life by goals.
Organize - Things you have to accomplish regularly to be successful
(family and finances).
Streamline - Things you may not like to do, but must do (work and
Economize - Things you should do or may even like to do, but they're
not pressingly urgent (pastimes and socializing).
Contribute - By paying attention to the few remaining things that make
a difference (social obligations).
Implementation of goals
A to-do form tattooed into a person's arm, with some items already
written out with a black pen
A task list (also to-do list or things-to-do) is a list of tasks to be
completed, such as chores or steps toward completing a project. It is
an inventory tool which serves as an alternative or supplement to
Task lists are used in self-management, grocery lists, business
management, project management, and software development. It may
involve more than one list.
When one of the items on a task list is accomplished, the task is
checked or crossed off. The traditional method is to write these on a
piece of paper with a pen or pencil, usually on a note pad or
clip-board. Task lists can also have the form of paper or software
Writer Julie Morgenstern suggests "do's and don'ts" of time management
Map out everything that is important, by making a task list.
Create "an oasis of time" for one to control.
Don't drop everything.
Don't think a critical task will get done in one's spare time.
Numerous digital equivalents are now available, including Personal
information management (PIM) applications and most PDAs. There are
also several web-based task list applications, many of which are free.
Task list organization
Task lists are often diarised and tiered. The simplest tiered system
includes a general to-do list (or task-holding file) to record all the
tasks the person needs to accomplish, and a daily to-do list which is
created each day by transferring tasks from the general to-do list. An
alternative is to create a "not-to-do list", to avoid unnecessary
Task lists are often prioritized:
A daily list of things to do, numbered in the order of their
importance, and done in that order one at a time until daily time
allows, is attributed to consultant
Ivy Lee (1877–1934) as the most
profitable advice received by
Charles M. Schwab
Charles M. Schwab (1862–1939),
president of the
Bethlehem Steel Corporation.
An early advocate of "ABC" prioritization was Alan Lakein, in 1973. In
his system "A" items were the most important ("A-1" the most important
within that group), "B" next most important, "C" least important.
A particular method of applying the ABC method assigns "A" to
tasks to be done within a day, "B" a week, and "C" a month.
To prioritize a daily task list, one either records the tasks in the
order of highest priority, or assigns them a number after they are
listed ("1" for highest priority, "2" for second highest priority,
etc.) which indicates in which order to execute the tasks. The latter
method is generally faster, allowing the tasks to be recorded more
Another way of prioritizing compulsory tasks (group A) is to put the
most unpleasant one first. When it’s done, the rest of the list
feels easier. Groups B and C can benefit from the same idea, but
instead of doing the first task (which is the most unpleasant) right
away, it gives motivation to do other tasks from the list to avoid the
A completely different approach which argues against prioritising
altogether was put forward by British author Mark Forster in his book
"Do It Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Management". This is based
on the idea of operating "closed" to-do lists, instead of the
traditional "open" to-do list. He argues that the traditional
never-ending to-do lists virtually guarantees that some of your work
will be left undone. This approach advocates getting all your work
done, every day, and if you are unable to achieve it helps you
diagnose where you are going wrong and what needs to change.
Various writers have stressed potential difficulties with to-do lists
such as the following:
Management of the list can take over from implementing it. This could
be caused by procrastination by prolonging the planning activity. This
is akin to analysis paralysis. As with any activity, there's a point
of diminishing returns.
Some level of detail must be taken for granted for a task system to
work. Rather than put "clean the kitchen", "clean the bedroom", and
"clean the bathroom", it is more efficient to put "housekeeping" and
save time spent writing and reduce the system's administrative load
(each task entered into the system generates a cost in time and effort
to manage it, aside from the execution of the task). The risk of
consolidating tasks, however, is that "housekeeping" in this example
may prove overwhelming or nebulously defined, which will either
increase the risk of procrastination, or a mismanaged
Listing routine tasks wastes time. If you are in the habit of brushing
your teeth every day, then there is no reason to put it down on the
task list. The same goes for getting out of bed, fixing meals, etc. If
you need to track routine tasks, then a standard list or chart may be
useful, to avoid the procedure of manually listing these items over
and over.
To remain flexible, a task system must allow for disaster. A company
must be ready for a disaster. Even if it is a small disaster, if no
one made time for this situation, it can metastasize, potentially
causing damage to the company.
To avoid getting stuck in a wasteful pattern, the task system should
also include regular (monthly, semi-annual, and annual) planning and
system-evaluation sessions, to weed out inefficiencies and ensure the
user is headed in the direction he or she truly desires.
If some time is not regularly spent on achieving long-range goals, the
individual may get stuck in a perpetual holding pattern on short-term
plans, like staying at a particular job much longer than originally
Many companies use time tracking software to track an employee's
working time, billable hours etc., e.g. law practice management
Many software products for time management support multiple users.
They allow the person to give tasks to other users and use the
software for communication.
Task list applications may be thought of as lightweight personal
information manager or project management software.
Modern task list applications may have built-in task hierarchy (tasks
are composed of subtasks which again may contain subtasks), may
support multiple methods of filtering and ordering the list of tasks,
and may allow one to associate arbitrarily long notes for each task.
In contrast to the concept of allowing the person to use multiple
filtering methods, at least one software product additionally contains
a mode where the software will attempt to dynamically determine the
best tasks for any given moment.
Time management systems
Time management systems often include a time clock or web-based
application used to track an employee’s work hours. Time management
systems give employers insights into their workforce, allowing them to
see, plan and manage employees' time. Doing so allows employers to
control labor costs and increase productivity. A time management
system automates processes, which eliminates paper work and tedious
GTD (Getting Things Done)
Getting Things Done
Getting Things Done was created by David Allen. The basic idea behind
this method is to finish all the small tasks immediately and a big
task is to be divided into smaller tasks to start completing now. The
reasoning behind this is to avoid the information overload or "brain
freeze" which is likely to occur when there are hundreds of tasks. The
thrust of GTD is to encourage the user to get their tasks and ideas
out and on paper and organized as quickly as possible so they're easy
to manage and see.
Francesco Cirillo's "Pomodoro Technique" was originally conceived in
the late 1980s and gradually refined until it was later defined in
1992. The technique is the namesake of a pomodoro (Italian for tomato)
shaped kitchen timer initially used by Cirillo during his time at
university. The "Pomodoro" is described as the fundamental metric of
time within the technique and is traditionally defined as being 30
minutes long, consisting of 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of break
time. Cirillo also recommends a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes after
every four Pomodoros. Through experimentation involving various work
groups and mentoring activities, Cirillo determined the "ideal
Pomodoro" to be 20–35 minutes long.
Elimination of non-priorities
Time management also covers how to eliminate tasks that do not provide
value to the individual or organization.
According to Sandberg, task lists "aren't the key to productivity
[that] they're cracked up to be". He reports an estimated "30% of
listers spend more time managing their lists than [they do] completing
what's on them".
Hendrickson asserts that rigid adherence to task lists can create
a "tyranny of the to-do list" that forces one to "waste time on
Learning is considered to be an activity of stress free notifying of
an exposure received with mindfulness. Any form of stress is
considered to be deblitative for learning and life, even if
adaptability could be acquired (eustress) its effects are
damaging. But stress is an unavoidable part of daily life and
Reinhold Niebuhr suggests to face it, as if having "the serenity to
accept the things one cannot change and having the courage to change
the things one can."
Part of setting priorities and goals is the emotion "worry," and its
function is to ignore the present to fixate on a future that never
arrives, which leads to the fruitless expense of one's time and
energy. It is an unnecessary cost or a false aspect that can interfere
with plans due to human factors. The Eisenhower Method is a strategy
used to compete worry and dull-imperative tasks. Worry as stress,
is a reaction to a set of environmental factors; understanding this is
not a part of the person gives the person possibilities to manage
them. Athletes under a coach call this management as "putting the game
Change is hard and daily life patterns are the most deeply ingrained
habits of all. To eliminate non-priorities in study time it is
suggested to divide the tasks, capture the moments, review task
handling method, postpone unimportant tasks (understood by its current
relevancy and sense of urgency reflects wants of the person rather
than importance), control life balance (rest, sleep, leisure), and
cheat leisure and non productive time (hearing audio taping of
lectures, going through presentations of lectures when in queue,
Certain unnecessary factors that affect time management are habits,
lack of task definition (lack of clarity), over-protectiveness of the
work, guilt of not meeting objectives and subsequent avoidance of
present tasks, defining tasks with higher expectations than their
worth (over-qualifying), focusing on matters that have an apparent
positive outlook without assessing their importance to personal needs,
tasks that require support and time, sectional interests and
conflicts, etc. A habituated systematic process becomes a device
that the person can use with ownership for effective time management.
Time and attendance
Time to completion
Time value of money
Work activity management
Getting Things Done
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
^ Stella Cottrell (2013). The Study Skills Handbook. Palgrave
Macmillan. pp. 123+. ISBN 978-1-137-28926-1.
Management Institute (2004). A Guide to the Project
Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide). ISBN 1-930699-45-X.
Archived from the original on 2008-11-04.
^ "NIMH » Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder".
www.nimh.nih.gov. Retrieved 2018-01-05.
^ Hallowell, Edward M.; Ratey, John J. (1994). Driven To Distraction:
Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood
Through Adulthood. Touchstone. ISBN 9780684801285. Retrieved
^ Change Your Brain Change Your Life: The Breakthrough Program for
Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Anger, and
^ a b Lakein, Alan (1973). How to Get Control of Your Time and Your
Life. New York: P.H. Wyden. ISBN 0-451-13430-3.
^ "The 80/20 Rule And How It Can Change Your Life".
^ The 4-Hour Workweek, Timothy Ferris, Crown Publishing Group 2007
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower (August 19, 1954), Address at the Second
Assembly of the World Council of Churches, Evanston, Illinois.
(retrieved 31 March 2015). Note that Eisenhower does not claim this
insight for his own, but attributes it to an (unnamed) "former college
^ Background on the Eisenhower quote and citations to how it was
picked up in media references afterwards are detailed in: Garson
O’Toole (May 9, 2014),
Category Archives: Dwight D. Eisenhower,
Quote Investigator. (retrieved 31 March 2015).
^ Fowler, Nina (September 5, 2012). "App of the week: Eisenhower, the
to-do list to keep you on task". Venture Village.
^ Drake Baer (April 10, 2014), "Dwight Eisenhower Nailed A Major
Insight About Productivity", Business Insider, (accessed 31 March
^ a b c d e McKay; Brett; Kate (October 23, 2013). "The Eisenhower
Decision Matrix: How to Distinguish Between Urgent and Important Tasks
and Make Real Progress in Your Life". A Man's Life, Personal
^ a b c d e
^ 24/8 - The Secret for being Mega-Effective by Achieving More in Less
Time by Amit Offir
^ a b c Morgenstern, Julie (2004). Time
Management from the Inside
Out: The Foolproof System for Taking Control of Your Schedule—and
Your Life (2nd ed.). New York: Henry Holt/Owl Books. p. 285.
^ Mackenzie, Alec (1972). The Time Trap (3rd ed.). AMACOM - A Division
Management Association. pp. 41–42.
^ LeBoeuf, Michael (1979). Working Smart. Warner Books.
pp. 52–54. ISBN 0446952737.
^ Nightingale, Earl (1960). "Session 11. Today's Greatest Adventure".
Lead the Field (unabridged audio program). Nightingale-Conant.
Archived from the original on 2013-01-08 inconsistent citations
^ "Time Scheduling and Time
Management for dyslexic students".
Dyslexia at College. Retrieved October 31, 2005. — ABC lists
and tips for dyslexic students on how to manage to-do lists
^ Forster, Mark (2006-07-20). Do It Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time
Management. Hodder & Stoughton Religious. p. 224.
^ Horton, Thomas. New York The CEO Paradox (1992)
^ "Tyranny of the Urgent" essay by Charles Hummel 1967
^ "86 Experts Reveal Their Best Time
Management Tips". Retrieved March
^ "ToDoList 5.9.2 - A simple but effective way to keep on top of your
tasks - The Code Project - Free Tools". ToDoList 5.9.2. Archived from
the original on November 22, 2008. Retrieved October 3, 2009.
— Features, code, and description for ToDoList 5.3.9, a
project-based time management application
^ Partho (18 February 2009). "Top 10 Time
Management Software for
Windows". Gaea News Network. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
^ Cirillo, Francesco (November 14, 2009). The Pomodoro Technique.
Lulu.com. ISBN 978-1445219943.
^ Sandberg, Jared (2004-09-08). "To-Do Lists Can Take More Time Than
Doing, But That Isn't the Point". The Wall Street Journal. — a
report on to-do lists and the people who make them and use them
^ Hendrickson, Elisabeth. "The Tyranny of the "To Do" List". Sticky
Minds. Retrieved October 31, 2005. — an anecdotal discussion
of how to-do lists can be tyrannical
^ Jeremy Harmer (2007). How to Teach English. Pearson Longman.
pp. 47+. ISBN 978-1-4058-5309-5.
^ Phillip Brown (2014). 26 Words That Can Change Your Life: Nurture
Your Mind, Heart and Soul to Transform Your Life and Relationships.
BookB. pp. 76–. ISBN 978-0-9939006-0-0.
^ Richard Walsh (2008). Time Management: Proven Techniques for Making
Every Minute Count. Adams Media. pp. 232–238.
^ Richard Walsh (2008). Time Management: Proven Techniques for Making
Every Minute Count. Adams Media. pp. 161–163.
^ Patrick Forsyth (2013). Successful Time Management. Kogan Page
Publishers. pp. 90–93. ISBN 978-0-7494-6723-4.
Library resources about
Resources in your library
Resources in other libraries
Allen, David (2001). Getting things done: the Art of Stress-Free
Productivity. New York: Viking. ISBN 978-0-670-88906-8.
Fiore, Neil A (2006). The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for
Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt- Free Play. New York:
Penguin Group. ISBN 978-1-58542-552-5.
Le Blanc, Raymond (2008). Achieving Objectives Made Easy! Practical
goal setting tools & proven time management techniques. Maarheeze:
Cranendonck Coaching. ISBN 90-79397-03-2.
Secunda, Al (1999). The 15 second principle : short, simple steps
to achieving long-term goals. New York: New York : Berkley Books.
p. 157. ISBN 0-425-16505-1.
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