Effective time management is essential for stress reduction, success, and perhaps even survival, especially in today's society of increasing demands on a much leaner workforce. This increasing workload is not hypothetical, but, is in fact, a reality. Corporate downsizing, restructuring, and the concept of lean manufacturing are just a few of the causes of these increased expectations. Time management also benefits individuals outside of the workplace, given the fact that most employees have just as many or more demands on their time away from work. Developing and utilizing good time management skills is key to managing personal stress levels. Mastering time management results in less stress by allowing individuals to regain a sense of control over their environment.
There have been numerous time management techniques developed over the years. It is really up to each individual to determine which one best suits his or her needs and expectations. However, the key to being successful with any time management technique is that it must be used on a daily basis. Time management skills do not work if they are not used. " It is the people who practice what they learn who will become effective managers of their time." (Kirk-Anderson, 2003, p.1) Individuals can only fully develop good time management skills by continually practicing what they learn, and eventually changing their old engrained behaviors. .
One key concept found in most all time management technique literature is some type of prioritizing your tasks. This does not require planning every minute and every task of the day, but entails reviewing your assignments and determining what is most critical. (Alderman, 1995). One useful methodology is to write down your assignments and then allocate each of them a priority code from A (extremely important) to F (unimportant, or can be delegated). The key to successful prioritizing is identifying the key tasks that make up the Pareto 80/20 rule (those tasks that will take up 20 percent of your effort, but deliver 80 percent of the reward) (McDonald & Borgen, 2003).