Time management


Published by Bupa's Health Information Team, October 2010.


Who has enough time to do everything they want or need to do?

Do you ever have days when you get nothing done, despite a huge effort. When your best endeavours to get through your workload come to no avail, do you reach the end of the day feeling frustrated, exhausted and defeated?

In this modern day it is really important to perfect your time management skills so that you can get the best out of the limited time you have in order to get your job done. The term ‘time management’ creates a false impression because time cannot be managed; we can only manage ourselves and our use of time. Time management skills can help you to whittle through the chaos of a busy day by identifying what needs doing and when. These skills are essential to a successful career in any field.

In the spirit of making effective use of time, this bulletin offers some suggestions in the form of easy-to-read bullet points.

Without time management - what would we do?

  • Waste time and resources
  • flit from activity to activity
  • not set priorities
  • Never say “no”
  • Only concentrate on one thing at a time
  • Be easily distracted and often impatient
  • Be reactive
  • Never take time out to plan
  • Not judge time very well
  • May concentrate on the important priorities and issues, but overlook the little things
  • Have poor closing skills; can’t say good-bye
  • Never delegate
  • Often procrastinate

 With time management – what would we do?

  • Use time effectively and efficiently
  • Value time
  • Concentrate efforts on the more important priorities and issues
  • Get more done in less time than others
  • Attend to a broader range of activities

But if we are too time structured, we may:

  • be impatient with other people’s agenda and pace
  • find it hard to take time-out to replenish resources
  • not provide those you are working with enough time to complete their responsibilities

Time management techniques

Set goals
Setting goals is essential when prioritising. Prioritising involves examining what is critical to the goal, what tasks are important to complete, what tasks are unnecessary and what tasks would be good to accomplish if there is any time left over.

Once the goals have been set use a scale of 1 to 10 to prioritise what is critical to the goal (1 = critical). Ensure that you focus your efforts on the tasks which have corresponding low ratings.

Work to a time plan
Most successful time managers begin with a time plan or a time line. It is a good idea to write down your work plan. By writing down the sequence or parts of the work which need to be completed you can ensure you know when and where to focus your efforts. A time plan ensures the project has been thoroughly thought through and therefore minimises the chances of overlooking any parts of the project which are critical to its completion.

Manage your time efficiently
By being more time sensitive and valuing your time you can manage the time you spend on tasks more efficiently. Valuing your time can be as simple as attaching a monetary value to your time, based usually on your salary or charge out rate. You can then review each task and ask whether it is worth that value or whether it is more appropriate to delegate. Being time sensitive may involve thinking about whether there are more efficient methods of completing a task. For example, instead of asking somebody in person to do something, it may have been more efficient for both parties to communicate via email.

Avoid meetings unless they are absolutely necessary
If a meeting is necessary, make sure all those involved know the objectives and the subsequent agenda. Additionally, ensure a time limit has been set. Bear in mind, the shorter the meeting, the greater the focus. In some instances there might be more time-efficient methods of conducting a meeting, for example making use of tele-conferencing facilities.

Create more time for yourself
Taking the time to plan can free up more time for managing proactively rather than reactively.
Be sensitive to others’ time It is likely that others have as much to do as you. By being time efficient with others you can ensure that you are using a minimum amount of their time. It may be likely that those you work with will acknowledge your efforts and will inreturn be sensitive to your time.

Say “no” when you need to
An important time saver is the ability to constructively say “no”. One technique people use is to ask the requester to prioritise the tasks they have given you, in order for you to complete the most urgent requests.

End when it is appropriate
Some poor time managers can’t close transactions. Either they continue to talk beyond what would be necessary, or more commonly, they can’t get the other party to stop talking. When it is time to move on, just say “I have to go; we can pick this up some other time”. Practise this wherever possible and it will become easier.

Bupa Employee Assistance can help

This bulletin covers some very useful techniques for managing your time effectively. If you feel you require some assistance in applying these techniques to your specific situation or you would like to explore some more techniques, please feel free to call Bupa Employee Assistance on 0800 269 616.

Bupa Employee Assistance counsellors are trained and experienced in providing support to individuals who need to manage their time more effectively. Additionally, if you feel a group of individuals within your organisation would benefit from spending some time working
towards more efficient time management, please contact your Bupa account manager to discuss the possibility of organising time management workshops.

  • If you are calling Bupa Employee Assistance from outside the UK, dial +44 20 8947 2690.
    Publication date: March 2009. These notes are issued for general information only. Professional advice should always be sought to take account of individual circumstances. Bupa cannot accept responsibility for continued accuracy of this information or actions taken on the basis of these notes alone.

    Bupa Employee Assistance is provided by Personal Effectiveness Centre Limited, trading as Bupa Psychological Services. Registered in England and Wales no 2355649. Registered office, Bupa House, 15-19 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2BA

    © Bupa 2008. Bupa and the heartbeat symbol are trademarks of The British United Provident Association Limited.

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