Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: time management from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Individual's management of his or her work time. A common tool used by managers to effectively manage their time is checklists. These might include points such as: prioritize key tasks, create time alone to give attention to important matters, and plan each day in advance.


Systems: Managing a Project

Summary Article: Time Management
From Encyclopedia of New Venture Management

Time management refers to a range of skills, tools, and techniques used to manage time when accomplishing specific tasks, projects, and goals. This skill set encompasses a wide scope of activities, including setting goals, planning, allocating, delegating, analyzing time spent, monitoring, organizing, scheduling, and prioritizing. The aim of time management is to concentrate one's effort on the things that matter the most and help one become aware of how to use time as one resource in organizing, prioritizing, and succeeding in a business in the context of all the competing activities of start-ups and new ventures. Initially time management just focused on business or work activities, but eventually the term broadened to apply to personal activities as well.

Usually, time management has been considered as a subset of project management; in this case, it is more commonly known as project planning or project scheduling. It is also a subset of attention management, which refers to the management of cognitive resources, particularly the time that humans allocate to thinking and making decisions about a task or other activity. Time management can also be discussed in the context of personal knowledge management, which is identified as a collection of processes that an individual conducts to gather, classify, store, search, retrieve, and share knowledge in his or her daily activities and how these processes support work activities.

There are four approaches to time management. The first aims to alert a person when a task is to be done based on clocks and watches, or computer implementation if possible. The second focuses on setting goals or planning and preparation based on calendars and appointment books. The third pays more attention to spending some time in clarifying values and priorities by planning, prioritizing, and controlling activities on a daily basis using personal organizers and other paper-based tools or systems based on personal digital assistants (PDAs). The fourth sets goals and roles as the controlling element of the system and favors importance over urgency.

In order to determine the tasks for any given moment dynamically, some techniques have been devised. Task lists, for example, identify tasks to be completed, functioning as an inventory tool that serves as an alternative or supplement to memory. Task lists are widely used in self-management and business management. This approach may involve more than one list. When one task is completed, it can be crossed off. Such systems, unlike traditional open to-do lists, are closed to-do lists on which tasks are prioritized. Traditional open to-do lists are never-ending, virtually guaranteeing that some of one's work will be left undone. The use of closed task lists advocates getting all one's work done every day. If one is unable to achieve that workload, then it is important to diagnose where things are going wrong and what needs to change.

There are other time techniques for setting priorities, such as ABC analysis, Pareto analysis, and goal setting. ABC analysis has been used in business management to categorize the large amounts of data into groups marked A, B, and C, based on the following general criteria: A refers to something urgent and important, B means important but not urgent (or urgent but not important), and C includes tasks that are neither urgent nor important. A tasks are done immediately and personally, C tasks are dropped, and B tasks are delegated or get an end date. Pareto analysis is based on the idea that typically 80 percent of unfocused effort generates only 20 percent of results; one can optimize one's effort by concentrating as much time and energy as possible on high-payoff tasks that ensure one will achieve the greatest benefit possible with the limited amount of time available. The entrepreneur can sort tasks into two groups: those that fall into the first category should be assigned a higher priority and should be completed immediately, and others can be postponed accordingly. Based on the notion that one is motivated by clear goals and appropriate feedback, goal setting emphasizes setting SMART goals: that is, goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

Entrepreneurs must bear these time management strategies in mind and chose ones that will work for them, including time for study as well as breaks to have a snack or relax. It is important to dedicate a space in the workplace that is free from distractions, where it is possible to maximize concentration. Tasks and assignments should be reviewed and prioritized weekly, beginning with the most difficult subject or task, achieving “stage one” by getting something done, and postponing unnecessary activities.

With the help of the information technology, many software applications have been invented to facilitate time management dynamically, so as to assist the entrepreneur in determining the best tasks for any given moment. Some of these applications support multiple users, allowing the manager to delegate tasks to other users and communicate those assignments through the software.

See also

Agility and Rapid Response, Change, Labor Costs, Planning Fallacy, Women's Entrepreneurship: Best Practices, Work-Life Balance

Further Readings
  • Fiore, Neil A. The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play. New York: Penguin Group, 2006.
  • Grundspenkis, J. “Agent Based Approach for Organization and Personal Knowledge Modeling: Knowledge Management Perspective.” Journal of Intelligent Manufacturing.
  • Le Blanc, Raymond Achieving Objectives Made Easy! Practical Goal Setting Tools and Proven Time Management Techniques. Maarheeze, Netherlands: Cranendonck Coaching, 2008.
  • Wright, Kirby, “Personal Knowledge Management: Supporting Individual Knowledge Worker Performance.” Knowledge Management Research and Practice.
  • Zhang, Shuyi
    Copyright © 2012 by SAGE Publications, Inc.

    Related Articles

    Full text Article Time Management
    QFinance: The Ultimate Resource

    There is no longer much that divides up our working lives. Days and evenings merge into each other, as do workdays and weekends. It’s supposed to be

    Full text Article Managing Your Time
    BUSINESS: The Ultimate Resource

    GETTING STARTED Time is a human concept. Animals don't understand the idea. They live in time; they are in the moment; the present is all that co

    Full text Article Managing Your Time Effectively in a Portfolio Career
    BUSINESS: The Ultimate Resource

    GETTING STARTED For numerous reasons, people today are choosing a portfolio career, which is a flexible way of undertaking a variety of paid jobs

    See more from Credo