Feb 15, 2009

Just How Good is YOUR Time Management?

This article explores why time management remains such a real and widespread problem - and the real place that one should start when seeking to make improvements

Who and Why?

Ask anyone if they have a time management problem and the answer is almost always very guarded, and usually non-committal. Test this for yourself with a friend. Now ask that same question of yourself and consider what your response would be. So why is the reaction invariably so guarded?

The answer is simple. More often than not people feel threatened by this question, not wishing to admit to something they inwardly regard as a failure to master a fundamental life skill.

There is perhaps an element of truth in this, yet I know of no one who has never had a time management problem or believes that they consistently use their time to best effect. This presents a beguiling question. Why is it that a skill we would all want to master is so apparently widespread a weakness and why do so few actually take meaningful steps to remedy that?

As problems with time management are so prevalent for individuals, so it is with businesses and organisations. More often than not the skills required to make significant and lasting improvement are simply missing from the organisation where they are needed, not least because the manager has his/her own problems in this area.

This leads us to another conundrum. Why do businesses seldom address this issue, given that developing better time management skills is perhaps the single most effective way to improve personal and business effectiveness and performance?

The Dreaded Cause

It is possible to make time management improvements using various tools and strategies - and many of these can have significant success. However this will be only limited success because there is really only one cause - and it is this which you must tackle first.

So what is the cause? In short, YOU!

Poor time management is a choice. It really is that simple and that stark. There is no hiding place.

Without addressing the fundamental issues that cause poor time management, it is not possible to make anything more than temporary improvements.


Whilst the vast majority are aware that they could significantly improve their time management, I have met few who are fully aware of, or recognise their problems quickly and know just how much scope there is for improvement. Even fewer realise the full extent of the impact that can be made on their lives and businesses by improved time management.

The majority are aware that they could improve their time management skills, but are unsure how to do so, or need help in defining their "shortcomings" in devising ways to make lasting improvements.

Features of Poor Time Management

The ways in which people organise their time varies enormously - and it is true to say that left to their own devices there would be as many different ways of doing this as there are people. In any business in which two or more people work in cooperation there will be some kind of agreed systems in place to enable that working relationship to function.

However it can be simply amazing how systems can be sabotaged, often unknowingly, because of poor organisation and poor time management. For this reason time management is inextricably linked with the nature of the tasks that are undertaken and can never be improved significantly by simply addressing wholly personal matters such as To Do Lists and diary management. Similarly task management cannot be significantly improved by concentrating solely on the nature and value of individual tasks.

The most commonly suggested remedies of poor time management commence with redefining aims and objectives, goals and targets, but do not tackle the causal issues and so are unlikely to be of any lasting benefit.


Poor time management is a matter that most people recognise to varying degrees, but prefer not to confront. Lasting improvement comes not from adopting new tools or changing working methods, but from recognising personal traits and their impact on how time is used.

Real and lasting improvement comes NOT from redefining aims,objectives, goals and targets within a business plan (although when done properly this does play a significant part) unless and until the underlying causes are tackled.

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