The 6 Principles of Effective Time Management

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Background

The 6 Principles of Effective Time Management provides us with some guidance about what we need to do to be more productive and get more done. The 6 principles described in this article are essentially headings, or 6 skills areas that are required to manage your time effectively.

The 6 Principles of Effective Time Management are © Revolution Learning and Development Ltd and are used in this article with their permission.

You can find out more about time management by reading our What is Time Management article.

The 6 Principles of Effective Time Management

The 6 principles of effective time management are:

To manage our time effectively, we need to be proficient in all 6 of the principles.

Planning

The first principle of the 6 principles of effective time management is planning. Planning requires you to work out and write down everything that you need to get done.

This might be you writing out a to-do list or completing a planner template. If this was related to a project then you would need to understand the individual tasks that you would need to complete in order to see that project through to completion.

There is no need to put anything in any kind of order just yet (that comes later). Just concentrate on getting your tasks out of your head and onto paper or something electronic if that works best for you. Free tools such as Trello are a really useful way of doing this.

Once you have all of your tasks down, find the box complex ones and break them down into smaller sized tasks. You don't want anything too big on your list as you will find the next stages more difficult. Try to keep tasks to a size where they could be done in user 60 minutes.

To learn more about planning your time effectively, take a look at our How to Plan Your Time Effectively article.

Prioritising

The second principle of the 6 principles of effective time management is prioritisation. Once you have completed the planning stage, those tasks need to be prioritised. Here you need to decide on the order that you were going to do your tasks in.

You should base your prioritisation on the importance first - how important the task is and completed. Importance looks at the value the task returns or the size of the consequence it avoids once it's completed. You should base the value and consequence on your organisation, not on you personally.

Once you understand the importance, you can then think about time and deadline.

Here are some tools that can help with prioritising tasks:

time management training course - revolution learning and development - the 6 principles of effective time management

Scheduling

The third principle of the 6 principles of effective time management is scheduling. Now we know what we need to do and we understand what order they need to come in, out next task is to schedule the tasks.

People think that scheduling and planning are the same things but they are actually different:

  • Planning is understanding what you need to get done
  • Scheduling is committing the time to when you will do them.

Scheduling required to 'book out' the time to carry out the tasks we need to get done. For example, you might block time out in your calendar or diary and commit that time to that task. We work out what we need to get done and the order that those things need to be done. Then, we commit or block out the time for each of those individual tasks.

You could use your online calendar to do this, a planner template that you make yourself, a diary or even a spreadsheet. Just make it easy to amend if things do need to change.

To learn more about scheduling your time effectively, take a look at our How to Schedule Your Time Effectively article.

Organisation

The fourth principle of the 6 principles of effective time management is organisation. This is where we begin to understand what tools and resources you need to make sure you can see your plan or your schedule through to its completion. You can ask yourself a number of questions to help get organised:

  • What technology do I need?
  • What programmes do I need?
  • What people do I need?
  • What support do I need?
  • What help and advice do I need?
  • What decisions do I need to be made by other people?

We need to understand how other things and other people can impact our ability to get things done. We should begin to think about all of these things at the beginning before we begin to run into problems later on in our list or into our project.

You could then begin to add these things into your list or into your plan and schedule as additional tasks head of when you need them.

Delegating

The fifth principle of the 6 principles of effective time management is delegation. Here, we figure out which tasks we can hand over to someone else to complete.

So. once we have completed the first 4 steps, we can then begin to think about what tasks we can delegate out. You should delegate if you recognise that you can't get everything done by yourself. You will also need to delegate when you need external expertise or help.

This is where delegation comes in -  the art of transferring the responsibility from you to somebody else to complete those tasks. Delegation is a skill or art in itself and requires some forward-thinking and planning of its own.

To learn more about effective delegation, take a look at our How to Delegate Effectively article.

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Discipline

The last principle of the 6 principles of effective time management is discipline. Discipline is sticking with it. A lot of people fail when it comes to time management is that they are not disciplined enough with sticking to their system or sticking to the approaches that they use to manage their time.

You might say things like 'I sometimes make a list' or 'I try to put a plan together' or 'I put a plan together but it never gets completed because things change'. It's discipline or the behavioural elements of time management that are so important to its overall success.

You can have all of the available tools and skills to manage your time, but if you are not disciplined in using them, they're not going to work.

Further Learning

If you wish to find out more about the 6 principles of effective time management and gain some practical tools to help with your own time management then you may find a time management training course will help. Take a look at Time Management Training from our training partner Revolution Learning and Development Ltd.

References

The 6 Principles are © Revolution Learning and Development Ltd and are used in this article with their permission.

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