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Do Time Management Skills Exist? Yes!

Submitted by Lori Conlan January 20, 2022

We often wonder to ourselves, “Where has the time gone?” or find ourselves wishing that there were more hours in the day. As we continue to ponder that question or wait for that wish to come true, let’s consider our perspective on time!

Whether it is reflective of our to-do list, competing priorities, or fatigue, we often start with the feeling that there is a time deficit. When we start in a place of feeling that we are at a deficit, it can be difficult to rebound from this feeling. Instead of engaging in this deficit mindset, it is more strategic to consider how you can work with time rather than thinking that time is working against you.

Ineffective and inconsistent time management skills can minimize our capacity to harness time, add to feelings of tiredness and fatigue, impair memory and sleep, and cause mood symptoms. Effective time management habits help reduce long-term stress, provide direction, and increase our control of productivity. Below are a few tips to help assist in effectively managing time.

  1. Get to know your time wasters. There are many internal and external factors that can cause us to lose time. This can include time spent numbing out on our phone, lack of strategy to attend to our to do list, or being over committed. By being aware of your time wasters, you can work to minimize engaging in those behaviors.
  2. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. There are often competing interests and priorities in our lives which can be challenging to juggle. Being able to prioritize, delegate and eliminate the unnecessary tasks are important time management skills. When prioritizing, you want to start by distinguishing among tasks that are urgent, important, both, or neither. Once this is determined, identify and track the time necessary to complete a task. Then, strategically decide where to schedule these tasks into your day. You may want to start with the largest task, go in sequence of priority level, or even work in chunks of time. It is important to find a method or methods that work for you.
  3. Control your procrastination tendencies. We are all guilty of procrastinating at some point in our lives. Two ways that we can control our procrastination tendencies are to avoid perfectionism and structure our time. Perfectionism can be a roadblock and does not allow us to be flexible when faced with stress. Be supportive to yourself and find ways to counter the unrealistic perfectionist cognitions. Structure can be difficult to create for ourselves. Collect data on your use of time and create realistic expectations based upon that information.
  4. Manage your commitments. Whether it is within our personal or professional lives, it can be very easy to be overcommitted. Signing on to exciting new projects, saying yes to social plans, or wanting to be a team player can lead us to a longer to-do list than is manageable. Remember that it is okay to say no or reevaluate a commitment that we previously said yes to. By managing our commitments, we are able to be more consistent in our efforts, provide better quality work, and manage our overall stress.
  5. Avoid sleep stealers. Lack of adequate sleep has a trickle-down effect for our overall health and productivity. An effective time management skill is to develop a consistent sleep regimen that promotes a restful sleep with minimal stimuli that deter us from rest.

Guest Blogger: Jenn Wiggins, MA, LPC: Wellness Advisor, OITE
Part of the “Voices of OITE” series.

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