Time Management

“A stitch in time saves nine” – it’s about time we came to grips with the importance of time management in the workplace

Time Zones

Ever heard of the old proverb “A stitch in time saves nine”?  If not, it’s about time that you did.  The origins of this proverb can be attributed to one Dr Thomas Fuller and first emerged in 1723.  This proverb is often used to justify the fact that it is far better to deal with a problem or issue now than to tackle it later, when the situation at hand is either likely to get worse or take longer to solve.  Hence, putting something off today in favour of doing it tomorrow creates more hassles in the long run.  Almost three hundred years on, the wisdom of this proverb still holds true, since in this present day and age time as a commodity is more valuable than ever.

In this article we examine time management in the workplace and its function as a critical success factor and key benefits involved in learning how to maximize this ever-fleeting resource.  Ultimately, making the effort to improve one’s time management capabilities means that more can be achieved in a shorter space of time and if one can master the art of time management to a significant extent a healthier existence awaits, not only in the workplace but in all areas of life. 

Time is a limited resource

To properly understand the value of time, ask a student who has failed an exam by one mark due to not finishing the last question on the exam paper what a difference an extra five minutes might have made.  Or ask anyone who has lost a business opportunity to a competitor who got there first because they were caught in traffic on the way to an important meeting how much better they think they would have fared if they had built traffic time into their overall travelling time and managed to get to the meeting on time. 

No matter which way you look at it, there are 24 hours in a day and that is that.   It seems that certain individuals only manage to do half the amount of work in the same amount of time as certain others, yet others still seem to manage twice as much.  As a result, those individuals are the ones that have a better chance at succeeding in keeping up with the demands of today’s workplace.  Here, time is literally of the essence. 

Due to the heavy demands on our time that we face almost daily it would be ludicrous to think of anything else that can be done other than finding ways and means to free up time or save time.  Often, one wishes one could even turn back the clock to conquer the concept of fleeting time.  But, without a time travelling machine that can take us back into the past each time we miss something or fail to accomplish our goals, which, although the idea might be on the cards in the near future according to many wishful thinkers and sci fi enthusiasts, right now there is no available ‘warp technology’ that can alter the course of time as we know it and our best chances lie in realistically finding ways to better manage our time.

More haste less speed”

The English idiom “more haste less speed” applies when one learns to properly manage one’s time by focusing on the task at hand instead of losing focus and getting into a frenzy.  With better focus comes greater efficiency. 

Good time management equates to better decision making

When one feels pressed for time, this often leads to poor decision making.  However, gaining a good grasp of time management techniques will enable one to spend more time analyzing appropriate options as opposed to rushing through the process.

Effective time management skills are key to a successful career

Not only do good time management skills mean that one has better control over one’s life in general, such will mean better career opportunities for those who are seen to be in control. 

Managing one’s time means more time to learn and grow

As one learns to become more practiced at developing one’s time management skills one will find that one also has more time to devote to education and training initiatives which in turn helps one more rapidly to grow in one’s chosen career. 

Time management helps with stress management

If one is unable to effectively manage one’s time this can result in unnecessary amounts of stress which can cause us to feel overwhelmed and out of control.  This in turn means that any additional responsibilities cannot effectively be managed which leads to even more stress. However, the ability to effectively manage one’s time can significantly reduce pressure around emergencies and surprise deadlines.

Take time out to make time out

Part of managing one’s time to one’s best advantage means being disciplined enough to build into one’s schedule a dedicated time each day to relax and recharge.  Even if this means taking a short walk or even 10 minutes to unwind and meditate without focusing on problems and the time factor itself, the benefits can be tremendous. 

A matter of good discipline

Acquiring the ability to better manage one’s time also shows a significant measure of self-discipline which in turn enables us to achieve our goals with greater ease and efficiency.

A matter of prioritising

Prioritizing tasks can often be of the utmost importance especially in jobs that require strict adherence to tight deadlines.  Time management skills enable one to effectively prioritize important and urgent tasks whilst at the same time not losing sight of the bigger picture.

Goal setting

Good time management skills will enable one to set and manage short as well as long term goals and will enable room to manoeuvre should tasks need to be reprioritised at any given point.

Helen Fenton, Senior Analyst:  Business Optimization Training Institute (BOTi) www.boti.co.za

Business Optimization Training Institute (BOTI) is a Johannesburg based, Level 1 BBBEE business.  As a Services and MICT SETA accredited company, we have trained thousands of individuals from over 650 companies and our extensive course offering consists of Short Courses, Soft Skills Training and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Learnership Programs.  In addition, we offer bespoke training programs designed to cater to specific business needs.  Our training courses are focused on knowledge and skills transfer and we pride ourselves in being able to provide training anytime, anywhere across South Africa.