What is the Time Management Definition?

Nowadays there are many ways to spend your time, or utterly waste it. Read on to learn about the time management definition and how you can manage your most scarce resource.

Time Management Definition

“The analysis of how working hours are spent and the prioritization of tasks in order to maximize personal efficiency in the workplace.”

What is time management? The concept of time management is the act of planning the amount of time you spend on which activities. Time management started with Frederick Taylor’s scientific management techniques. His goals was to increase employee productivity. He conducted all manner of time and motion studies and began to focus on ways to maximize the work completion in a given amount of time.

This time management definition stills holds value. After all, most of us start using time management in order to get more done in less time. But time management has evolved..

Why Should You Manage Time?

Increasing personal productivity, especially among white collar workers, has been a popular subject in the field of management. The output of white collar workers can be hard to measure. Someone who works at an assembly line can produce an X amount of parts per hour. But white collar output tends to be difficult to compare to standards. Managers are looking for ways to monitor worker productivity, and they have turned to time use to do so.

How Time Management Has Changed

The time management definition of increasing employee productivity is still true. Increasing productivity is still the number one reason people turn to time management. There are different definitions of succesfull time mangement. In her book Thinking Smarter: Skills for Academic Succes Carla Crutsinger describes successful time management as following:

  • Setting goals
  • Prioritizing these goals
  • Deciding how much time to allocate to these tasks
  • Adjusting plans as they change
  • Revisiting goals and priorities
  • Observing results

Another approach to successful time management is given by Neil Shipman, who defines successful time management as following:

  • Being aware of yourself, your habits and your ways of working;
  • Structuring your time;
  • Setting goals and priorities;
  • Increasing personal efficiency and effectiveness;
  • Scheduling specific time for each activity;
  • Scheduling relaxation time in order to recharge.

History of Time Management

Yet another time management definition is given by Stephen Covey, he taught that there are three generations of time management.

First Generation Time Management: Reminders

Stephen Covey’s description of the first generation of time management is as following. This generation is based on reminders. The supporters of this generation like using time management by making notes and lists which they use as reminders.

Second Generation Time Management: Planning and Preparation

The second generation likes using calendars and diaries to take notes of dates, times and meetings or deadlines. The diaries can either be paper-based or digital. On the contrary to the first generation, the second generation covers planning and preparation for the common everyday life duties and working life duties.

Third Generation Time Management: Setting priorities and adjusting

The third generation enlarges planning with goal setting and priorities. The design of the second generation presents a plan with meetings and allocates time for specific tasks. The third generation goes beyond this scope, as it also defines preferences. It’s all about priorities and reflecting upon the personal importance of the things around you.

Fourth Generation Time Management: Proactive and Effective

The fourth generation adds urgency. The following image shows how urgency can be taken into consideration. Activities can be divided according to two dimensions: importance (vertical) and urgency (horizontal).


This model shows a different approach to time management. We should be focussed on important things, and not just urgent things. If we want to spend our time wisely, we should be spending time on Quadrant 1 (Critical Activities) and 2 (Important Goals) activities. Quadrant 3 (Distractions) and 4 (Interruptions) are less important activities and should be eliminated, delegated or automated.

With this model we can see how productivity can increase and stress can be reduced. If we spend more time in Quadrant 2 (Important Goals), which holds activities that have to do with planning and long-term goals, we can reduce crises and other urgent matters, by being better prepared. Which brings us to the next topic; what are the advantages of time management?

Advantages of Time Management

By now the time management definition should be clear. That is, there are many different approaches and thoughts about time management. But ultimately it is about increasing personal productivity. For a lot of people time management also helps reduce stress.

Advantages of time management are:

  • Reduces stress
  • Improve quality of work
  • Manage your time
  • Get a grip on day to day activities
  • Finish work before deadlines
  • Create more spare time
  • Working on your life goals
  • Creating more spare time
  • Becoming more proactive.

Time management will help you increase your personal productivity, but it will likely also increase your quality of life. Time management is not something just for in the office, it can be applied to your home situation as well.

Let’s take a look at some time management tips that you could start implementing right now.

Set goals

First things first, you need to set goals. What are your priorities? What are your medium and long-term goals? By establishing goals you can later on allocate time to work on their achievement.

Use Your Calendar

Schedule meetings with the use of you calendar and set time to work on important projects. Managing your time starts by managing your calendar.

Focus On Highest Leverage Tasks

Focus on the high leverage tasks that give you the most results. There will always be more tasks than there will be hours in the day to complete them. Therefore it is important to know what activities truly help you reach your goals.

Start With The Most Uncomfortable Task

Almost nine times out of ten your most daunting and hardest task is the one that is most important. So start your day by completing this hard and uncomfortable task. Get it of your plate. Tackling your hardest task also has the benefit of creating some momentum, which you can use to really get things moving.

Stop Multi-Tasking

If you want to make good use of your time, stop multitasking. Your quality of work will improve drastically if you focus just on one thing at a time. Focus on one task at once and only start something new once the previous task is completed.

Learn Time management

Now you know the time management definition you might be curious about more time management tips. Download the free eBook “How to Become More Productive In Less Than 10 Minutes” to boost your personal productivity now.


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