What is time management?
“Time management” is the process of planning how much time you have to spend on different activities. It involves prioritising responsibilities and reducing time spent on unimportant tasks. Those who have good time management are able to complete tasks effectively and efficiently.
What is poor time management?
A person with poor time management finds it difficult to initiate tasks, reach deadlines, or prioritise which tasks are important to complete. Poor time management can lead to feeling overwhelmed by daily tasks, or feeling left with a sense of failure when you are unable to complete everything you had planned. Many adults, particularly those with ADHD or depression struggle with time management, and this can lead to feeling discouraged, frustrated, or overwhelmed.
Some common signs of poor time management can include:
- An inability to complete tasks on time
- Feeling overwhelmed by your workload
- Lack of drive to complete goals
- An inability to delegate tasks
- Rushing to complete tasks
- Poor quality of work
- Ineffective use of time
When should I get help for time management?
While it is common to feel overwhelmed by busy schedules or large tasks now and then, some people may find they are procrastinating to the extent that they are unable to achieve any of their goals. If you frequently experience the impacts of poor time management or find that it is negatively impacting your work or personal life, it may be useful to seek help.
Treatment for poor time management
There are a variety of things you can do to help minimise the overwhelming feelings of stress that may be preventing you from achieving your goals. Psychologists can help individuals to implement techniques that can help with poor time management. This could include the use of:
Effective scheduling is a process that involves planning how you will spend your time in order to achieve your goals. It includes the following steps:
- Recognising how much time you realistically have available
- Allocating time for essential tasks that must be completed
- Leaving time for unexpected occurrences or interruptions
- Scheduling activities that fulfil your personal needs
- Cutting out or delegating tasks as appropriate
This process also involves considering if your goals are achievable in the time you have available without feeling overwhelmed, and identifies if adjustments need to be made.
Learning to use a day planner can help individuals, including those with ADHD, to manage their time, remember responsibilities, and remain organised. This involves planning all commitments (work, home, and personal) within one calendar and practicing the skills of planning effectively until they become habit. The process of using a day planner effectively can help you to remain on top of tasks and encourages you to follow through with commitments.
Activity logs involve recording your alertness, changes in energy levels, and productivity throughout the day to track when you work most effectively. This can help determine when to schedule the most important tasks in your day and whether you are spending too much time on non-priority commitments.
An Action Plan is a simple list of all the steps involved in completing a task. By thinking about and writing down what is required in order to achieve a goal, you are able to ensure that you do not skip any stages and can identify any tasks that may be delegated. The use of an action plan is a simple but effective method for completing tasks with greater efficiency.
To-Do Lists are an effective tool for keeping organised and on top of all tasks that need to be completed. This involves recording everything that you need to do, prioritising the order of tasks by placing the most important items at the top of the list, and ticking them off as they are achieved. By using a To-Do List, all tasks are recorded in one place, and so you are less likely to forget about tasks that may not require immediate attention. A To-Do List is an extremely helpful time management tool that reduces feelings of stress that can arise due to a heavy workload. Listing responsibilities in this way enables you to clearly identify how you should be spending your time.
Developing small, realistic goals by breaking down larger ones is an effective way to make sure you are making progress and managing your time well. Vague, unrealistic goals that are difficult to achieve can leave you feeling disappointed or frustrated when you are unable to accomplish them. By setting realistic goals you stay motivated to keep progressing as you are continually rewarded for minor achievements.
Learning to effectively manage your time can reduce stress levels and lead to greater productivity. By applying time management tips you can improve your ability to achieve the most important tasks within the time available to you.
If you would like to find out more about our treatment for time management difficulties, or to book an appointment with one of our clinical psychologists who provides treatment in this area, please email or call the clinic on 02 9438 2511.