With the hectic lifestyles that most of us lead these days, time tends to be a precious commodity that many of us wish we had more of. With this in mind there has been a growth in the number of programs, books and resources on the subject of time management and how to achieve maximum productivity within the 24 hour day.
However, many successful people seem to manage just fine without using tools to manage their time. So could these time management tools be just an expensive gimmick to increase procrastination (without making you feel like you are actually procrastinating), or a valuable resource which enables you to increase your productivity and reclaim all those lost hours in your day?
This is a very valid and reasonable question to ask, and I can only answer based on my own experiences with reading and using time management tools. In honesty, there is no specific answer: I would say that the effectiveness of time management tools is dependent upon you – your existing relationship with time, your reasons for procrastination and your personal drive and motivation to achieve the task or tasks at hand.
Time management tools have worked for me because I have always been very poor at organising myself – this led to me often being overwhelmed by tasks because I kept seeing them in their entirety rather than breaking them down into logical steps. As a result I would just put tasks in the “too difficult” box and not start it until I had absolutely no choice but to do so.
Time management tools have helped me in organising my thoughts; I see the task, I break it down into manageable chunks, determine how long each task should take and then focus solely on the that specific part of the task at hand within the allocated time. My motivation has been increased by always working to some sort of deadline; I also enjoy using graphics a means of actually seeing how much time I have spent and how much work I have gotten through.
So for me, time management tools are definitely part of the solution and have helped me to manage my time effectively using a set process and a series of steps, which takes me about 10 to 15 minutes at the start of my day. However, what works for one person may not work for another. These tools should be looked at as aids to motivate and organise you; as with any aid it requires you to push yourself in order to gain maximum benefit from it – in a nutshell, it will not magically determine what you need to do and then do it for you.
In conclusion, the time management tools which I use definitely work for me and enable me to be more focussed and productive during my day. I am not a slave to these tools though, and recognise the importance of flexibility as my job requires me to be responsive as well as proactive in managing my work. The real benefit for me is that I have developed a clear method for organising my day and a means of staying motivated. If you are keen to try something new to increase your productivity levels then investing in time management tools could really help you.