7 easy tips to overcome the obstacles of time management
Knowing the obstacles of time management is the starting point to become master of your existence and create a life to match your ambitions.
In this article, you will discover everything that can hinder effective management of your life both at work and in your private life.
Being aware of these elements will allow you to change your way of thinking and your actions to solve your problems and move forward with certainty in achieving your personal and professional goals.
Here are briefly the obstacles of time management:
- not to be aware of your values
- do not give fair value to your time
- do not realize how you use your time
- blindly trust time management tools and methods
- lock yourself in your old habits
- have low self-esteem
- make yourself limited by your fears
I propose without further delay to discover in more detail what can prevent you from managing your time effectively.
The obstacles of time management: knowing them to overcome them
Discover now the obstacles to time management.
1 – Do not be aware of your values
If you do not know your values, i.e. your priorities, you do not know what makes you really feel satisfied and therefore regularly experiment with positive emotions such as joy or satisfaction.
This error is the most common probably because time management is thought to be used mainly to accomplish a maximum of tasks to achieve maximum results.
This is only partially true.
The main goal of time management is to improve the quality of your life so that you live in accordance with your values and therefore experience emotions that make you feel good every day.
This essential goal cannot be achieved if you do not know your values, that is, what you value as more important in your life.
Once you know your values, it is useful to check if there is a conflict of values. These are two or more values that slow down or hinder your well-being and the achievement of important results for you.
Time management coaching allows you to:
- Become aware of your values
- Identify possible internal conflicts
- Release psychic and mental energy to reach your goals and be happier in your life
2 – Do not give fair value to your time
How can you think of overcoming the obstacles of time management if you do not perceive the importance of your time?
If you do not understand the value of your time, you cannot give fair value to your time and therefore, you are not giving fair value to your life.
If you want to reclaim your existence, you have to give fair value back to your life and for that you have to learn how to value your time.
Doing this makes you understand the importance of one of your greatest resources: the time available to you.
Understanding that this time is precious, you will organize your days around activities that contribute positively to your achievement and your well-being.
In this way, you will eliminate from your life anything that does not contribute to a better life.
This second obstacle naturally leads us to the third obstacle of time management.
3 – Do not realize how you use your time
How do you use your time?
How much time do you spend on activities that contribute to your success and well-being?
How much time do you misspend focusing on unproductive activities?
Answering these questions is important to understand how you are doing to make changes in your everyday actions.
Doing this allows you to get out of a position of lack and go to the abundance one.
Few people do not complain about the lack of time available to them.
But when you understand that you are not managing your time well, you are once again able to make better choices and free up time to do what really matters in your life.
You become responsible for your life and you do not endure time anymore.
This will allow you to move from acting in unconsciousness to acting consciously.
4 – Blindly trust time management tools and methods
One of the most common illusions in time management is the belief that applying time management tools would solve all your problems.
Many women and men invest their time and money in these time management tools and priorities that are supposed to enable them to increase their productivity and help them in their professional and personal difficulties.
Organizations are no exception to this practice with significant costs.
Yet this remains a waste of time, money and energy because the results are not there.
These tools can help you but they become relevant only after you become aware of the first three obstacles of time management.
Second, time management tools and methods can help you become more effective if you tailor them to your needs and character.
5 – Lock yourself in your old habits
If you do not change your behavior, you cannot expect something different.
Staying in the known, in what reassures you, also means staying in what limits your evolution.
Changing is not an easy task, but if you want something better in your life, you have to go out of your usual way of thinking and acting.
Visualize what you want to accomplish and set at least one action every day that brings you closer to the ideal situation.
Write down your progress and do not despair when you fall back into your old habits.
If you persist, you will develop self-confidence and you will achieve this change.
6 – Have low self-esteem
Having low self-esteem and therefore having little self-confidence can sabotage all your best intentions.
Self-esteem can be developed with a good strategy.
Spot all the moments in which you find yourself criticizing yourself.
Take note of when you meet your commitments and act in accordance with your values.
Congratulate yourself for all these small achievements to strengthen self-esteem and motivation.
Identify what you need to learn to approach your time management goals.
Then take action and read what you need to read, talk to people who can help you, participate in the conferences that interest you, take new action, etc.
Finally, at the end of each day, take some time to:
- evaluate your progress
- understand what you need to improve
- decide what you will do differently to change your life
- celebrate and give you your achievements
One study shows the mediating effect of self-esteem on procrastination, more specifically the higher the self-esteem and the lower the tendency to procrastinate.
7 – Make yourself limited by your fears
Different fears can prevent you from overcoming the obstacles of time management.
Every fear acts on the subconscious level. You can understand that managing your time well can improve the quality of your life but at the same time fear leads you to not fully engage in this process of change.
The fear of success can be a good example, you know that you can succeed but you think that if you become an organized person, it will become a kind of obligation and you will not afford to make a mistake.
The opposite can also block you; it is the fear of failure. You doubt so much of yourself and you are so afraid of not being up to the fact that you remain paralyzed in your old behavioral patterns.
You may even feel the fear of others’ judgment and you will have difficulty to engage in real change for fear of criticism from others.
One way to overcome these fears is to realize that they are not real. You created them to justify your current situation and therefore not to change.
Understanding this will allow you to begin your change process to take seriously the management of your time and your life.
Conclusion of how to overcome the obstacles of time management
Overcoming the obstacles of time management requires:
- Know your values and act in accordance with them
- Give fair value to your time
- Become aware of how you use your time
- Give proper importance to time management tools and methods
- Get out of your old habits
- Constantly build self-esteem
- Overcoming your fears
To go further in understanding time management
Definitions of time management
The concept of time management varies from one researcher to another. More specifically, some authors emphasize the pragmatic aspect of time management, while others focus on the management of oneself.
Time management is defined as:
- self-awareness in terms of time use (attitudes, cognitions), Wratcher & Jones (1988)
- a time-use model with short- and long-term planning and attitude towards time management, Britton & Tesser (1991)
- behaviors that have three main components: awareness of the here and now or past, present and future, Kaufman, Lane & Lindquist (1991)
- focusing on what is most important instead of following a list of pending activities, Covey & al. (1994)
- control of the highest level of anxiety and stress, McKenzie (1997)
- the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the entire time used for specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity Buck & al. (2000).
- a self-controlled attempt to use time in a subjective and effective way to achieve goals, Koch & Kleinmann (2002)
- organizing tasks or events by assessing in advance how much time will be required to complete a task and then adjusting the events that will interfere with its completion in a timely manner, North (2004)
- a form of self-management which is a conscious form of self-regulation, (see Kuhl & Fuhrmann, 1998) with a focus on time, Claessens, Roe, & Rutte (2009)
- the optimal use of time in order to have a better and easier life and that includes personal skills, setting goals and organizing activities, Hashemizadeh (2006)
- behaviors that aim to achieve an effective use of time during goal-directed activities, Claessens, Van Eerde, Rutte, & Roe (2007)
- a combination of sensitivity for time, goal setting, task prioritization, goal monitoring Claessens, Van Eerde, Rutte, & Roe (2007)
- the act or process of exercising conscious control over the amount of time used in specific activities, especially to increase efficiency or productivity Hassanzabeh & Ebadi (2007)
- a type of behavior that differentiates people who finish things on time, meet deadlines and use little time in their activities, from people who are often late, exceed deadlines, spend too much time in their activities and lose time with unimportant things, Claessens & al. (2009)
The different categorizations of time management
Britton & Tesser (1991) propose three aspects of time management:
- short-term planning: the ability to set and organize short-term tasks
- long-term planning: the ability to manage tasks over the long term by setting goals, taking into account important dates and limiting procrastination
- positive attitudes towards time: the orientation of an individual to use his time constructively and keeping control of how his time is used
Macan (1994) identifies three components of time management:
- setting goals and priorities: behaviors such as setting goals to be achieved and prioritizing tasks to achieve those goals
- the mechanics of time management: behaviors associated with time management such as writing a task list and planning
- the preference for the organization of one’s working environment and the project approach
Achunine (2004) suggests that time can be managed as follows:
- planning: the formulation of objectives and the definition of practical solutions or steps to achieve these objectives
- organization: use all resources in a plan to achieve goals
- responsibility: to be responsible for who we are, for what we can do, for what we have received and for those who lead us
- responsibility and integrity: not only can time be planned, organized and implemented, but it must also be evaluated to demonstrate the effectiveness of its use in order to achieve objectives
- Efficiency: or the principle of forced efficiency which specifies that “there is never time to do everything, but there is always time to do the most important things”
The main factors influencing time management
Time management and personality factors
Some authors show that good time management depends more on personality factors. In this sense, the consciousness factor, the emotional stability and the ability to manage one’s time, rather than the planning style or the time control, are related to the completion of the tasks.
Douglas, Bore & Munro (2016) show that time management is associated with both aspects of the consciousness personality factor (attendance and order).
Recent studies show that people who need to exercise higher levels of control in their work environment also have excellent levels of time management, Claessens & al. (2007).
Time management and memory
Macan, Gibson & Cunningham (2010) show that people who manage their time well have a better prospective and retrospective memory. More importantly, those who set goals and priorities and have a preference for the organization, have a better memory than those who do not. Prospective memory refers to a set of mental behaviors and processes about creating an intention to remember something later (usually a task) and recall that intention at the right time or place. Retrospective memory is the memory of past experiences.
Most time management studies provide evidence of a positive relationship between time management and wellbeing, being organized and feeling of control Chang and Nguyen (2011).
Time management, health and work performance
But also, several studies show that better time management promotes better performance at work.
More specifically, time management improves professional efficiency by allowing individuals to allocate adequate time to their most important work tasks (Hall & Hursch 1982, Orpen 1994, Schuler 1979). This greater focus on professional priorities improves results.
Improved ability or skill in time management that includes setting achievable goals, identifying priorities, monitoring own progress, and staying organized Claessens & al. (2007) – can lead to more efficient use of time and ultimately to more positive outcomes, which include reducing work stress and increasing work performance, Britton & Tesser (1991); Jex & Elacqua (1999).
Macan (1994) shows that people with better time management skills perceive that they have better control of their time and how they use it, and this was associated with a reduction in the feeling of work stress and a reduction in somatic tension, or physical symptoms of stress such as insomnia and headaches.
Claessens & al. (2004) confirm results similar to those of Macan by showing the effect of good time management and the consequent perception of time control that allows to reduce work stress and to increase work performance.
Das (2019) confirms the results of previous studies again by showing that time management is positively associated with a perception of time control, job satisfaction and health and negatively with stress.
Darini, Pazhouhesh and Moshiri (2011) show a positive correlation between creativity and daily planning, confidence in long-term planning, perception of time control and tenacity, and a negative correlation with preference for disorganization.
Professionals who manage their time better experience less exhaustion, which is the most important aspect of professional burnout, Peeters & Rutte (2005), and generally report greater job satisfaction, Macan & al. (1990).
On the contrary, the feeling of lack of time is linked to several undesirable effects, from insomnia to aggravation of physical health.
Nonis, Fenner & Sager (2011) show that the impact of time management on work performance is greater for individuals with an internal control place than those with an external control place.
Overall, there is a vast body of evidence that suggests that how people use their time is strongly associated with well-being and happiness.
However, it appears that the actual use of time does not predict happiness as strongly as satisfaction in the use of time (eg, Robinson, 1983, Lawton, Moss & Fulcomer, 1986, Clark, Harvey & Shawn, 1990; Boniwell, 2009).
Peel (2007) identifies 4 main benefits of effective time management:
- stress reduction
- help in achieving a balance between professional and personal life
- increased productivity
- improvement of individual and organizational achievement
How to improve time management?
- set short and long term goals
- update these goals regularly
- keep a journal to record how you use your time
- prioritize tasks
- prepare a to-do list and perform the tasks
- better organize your workspace
- measure the time needed to complete each task
- act in coherence with your values
- set realistic deadlines
- reduce distractions
- allow time for unexpected events
- manage your energies
- become aware of your mindset and your behavior
Studies show that time can be used efficiently and productively by setting short- and long-term goals, keeping a diary of how one’s time is used, prioritizing tasks, writing and planning task lists, organizing one’s workspace (Claessens & al 2007, Macan 1994).
In order to use time effectively, individuals must above all be able to predict how much time is needed for each activity, Kelly (2002).
An individual becomes effective in using his time when he knows what he wants, what he needs to do, and by what deadline. Individuals need to become more organized in the use of their time by respecting their established priorities while minimizing the distractions of others as well as those concerning situations that may take priority in terms of time and energy, Soucie (1986).
According to Crutsinger (1994), time management consists of determining what an individual should do by setting goals, by deciding which activity is most important and by understanding that other activities should be used around them (prioritization), make decisions about how much time to allocate to certain tasks (time estimation), cope with the unexpected (problem solving), regularly review objectives and priorities (evaluation), and observe trends and patterns of behavior.
Several authors (Barkas, 1984, Feeny Jonson, 2002, Hellsten & Rogers, 2009, Jorde, 1982, Lakein, 1973, Mackenzie, 1972, 1975, 1990, Morris, 2001, Woolfolk & Woolfolk, 1986) agree on seven competencies. or time management behaviors that can be considered essential:
- time analysis
- setting goals
- calendar organization
- establishing new and improved habits
From an operational point of view, improving time management requires:
- plan fewer activities and focus on important activities
- focus on one task at a time
- space the deadlines
- program hobbies by extending their duration
- focus on the present moment
According to Shirley (2008), better time management can be achieved if goals have been defined and therefore all future work has been prioritized according to how it enables individuals and organizations to achieve goals.
In agreement with the cognitive model of Rasmussen (1986) we can identify three levels of decisions in terms of time management:
- tactical: How the individual plans to work and react to specific events related to the task
- operational: Decisions are made on a case by case basis
- behavioral: Decisions are made unconsciously and in an automated way
This is consistent with Zimbardo’s work that people are not aware of the decisions they make. This brings to the importance of helping people become aware of their decisions in terms of time management.
The approach of mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII) to an individual’s daily concerns improves time management.
The MCII involves contrasting a desired future with obstacles corresponding to reality and creating intentions (if-then plans) by specifying when and where to overcome these obstacles.
The areas of time management
Larsson and Sanne (2005) implement a content analysis of key personal development works and identify 6 primary categories of time management:
- streamline tasks
- buy home services
- take care of a basic need
- define limits in the relationship with others
- define boundaries with long-term aspirations
- use effective methods of change
The tools of time management
ABC analysis based on the Pareto Principle
The most important tasks, which contribute about 65% of our objectives, represent about 15% of working time. The tasks of average importance occupy about 20% of the time and share similar results. Small tasks require about 65% of our time and 15% contribute to achieving the goal. The goal of ABC analysis is to prioritize the implementation of task management and to allocate time according to the importance of a given task.
The rule of effective or indispensable management of time
It considers that 10% of the time taken to plan activities carefully in advance will save 90% of the effort needed to reach the goal later, Hisrich and Peters (2002).
The matrix of Eisenhower
The Eisenhower matrix ranks the tasks in accordance with the criteria of urgency and importance:
- urgent and important: must be completed immediately
- important but not so urgent: can be planned for implementation. If they are not planned, sooner or later they will become urgent. It is useful to check if and to what extent they can be delegated
- urgent but not important: most of the time they are responsible for the “pressure” we are experiencing. The problem is that we often feel compelled to take on these tasks ourselves because they are urgent. The right solution for these tasks is to delegate them, and to use the time gained to solve important problems
- not important and not urgent: we probably do not need to manage them at all
The time perspective inventory (ZTPI) of Zimbardo
The ZTPI is available for free at the time paradox site or as part of a cost-effective diagnostic tool for coaches and their clients, such as the time intelligence report, which also measures 10 other dimensions of how people structure time and who provides several suggestions for improving your own time management.
Time management and coaching
Coaches can help their clients define their profile in terms of time perspective by highlighting the dominant and less developed parts. This temporal perspective profile can be measured with the ZTPI’s 56 items, Zimbardo & Boyd, (1999). At the same time, the coach’s skills in terms of questioning and observation can be used to identify clients’ temporal preferences.
A fundamental point in coaching is often reached when the client becomes aware that a certain way of looking at things is linked to a habitual reaction. A current way of thinking may be based on a blockage in a temporal orientation that is not appropriate for the situation. Highlighting the disadvantages of a dominant time perspective can help the client to change his perspective (Boniwell & Zimbardo, 2004, Boniwell, Osin, Sircova, 2014, Boniwell, Osin, 2015).
The coach can help the client find a time balance. The association between the temporal perspective and well-being differs greatly across studies; however, recent research suggests that profiles with a more balanced time perspective are most often associated with happiness and well-being in relation to individual dimensions (Boniwell & al., 2010, Stolarski, Wiberg, Osin, 2015).
The happiest people are those who have a balanced time perspective (those who are able to balance the pleasure of the present moment with sacrificing their time for long-term goals). A balanced time perspective is also associated with a more beneficial use of time. Coaching allows the client to become more flexible in terms of time perspective between past, present and future.
Coaching can allow clients to stay focused on a time dimension when needed and to “stop” when appropriate. The development of such flexibility coupled with encouragement from a time perspective over the long term can contribute to the development of a more balanced time perspective (Boniwell, Osin Sircova, 2014; Boniwell, Osin, 2015).
The identification of the client’s time perspective profile can guide the coaching work around to:
- raise awareness of unproductive responses associated with current temporal orientations
- establish strategies for developing underutilized time zones
- find connections between time zones of the past, present and future in order to develop continuity in the customer’s life story
- question the dominance of the future temporal perspective in Western societies and to evaluate the impact this social belief has on the client’s life, Boniwell (2005).
Finally, some authors highlight the impact of sleep on both health and time management.
Sleep quality is one of the strongest predictors of activity satisfaction in the next day, Kahneman and Krueger (2006).
One of the main objectives of coaching can therefore be to become aware of the importance of sleep and the adaptation of sleep conditions.
To conclude this article, I would like to add that two major obstacles to good time management have not been addressed in this article. This is procrastination and the level of energy.
If you are interested in these topics, I advise you to read the article on how to stop procrastinating and the one on how to have more energy to become more effective.