Define Time Management to Regain Control of Your Schedule

Updated March 05, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC


Jim Rohn once said, "Either run the day or the day runs you." If you struggle with feeling like you are being run by your day then it's time to improve your time management skills. The first step is learning how to define time management. Many people don't understand what it truly is. Time management can be defined as "the ability to use one's time effectively or productively, especially at work."

Many people associate time management with the workplace and business. This is largely due to the idea of time management as an actual concept that came about in the 19th century with the Industrial Revolution. Not that people weren't managing their time prior to that, but this is when it began to change. The addition of factory work created a new type of workplace and made it necessary for people to begin to manage their time in a different way. The business world works around Benjamin Franklin's quote "time is money". That means the better you organize your time, the more money you make. And, over the years many different professionals have continued to develop the idea and practice of time management.

How Do You Define Time Management?

Time management is talked about a lot nowadays. Even though we all have the same 24 hours that people had hundreds of years ago, we seem to struggle more with getting things done that we need to. There is a sense of busyness that we carry through the day with us. People understand that there are different ways to get more done, but when it really comes down to knowing how to define time management people are confused.

Many believe that there is a trick to time management. They believe that there are some people that seem to have a secret to being able to get more done in a shorter period of time. However, time management all boils down to the way you use your time each day. Some people seem to have a natural knack for knowing how to do this, but the truth is, it's something that everyone is able to do.

Time management is the way you choose to spend your time. You can either let your day control you or you can make a plan to control your day; and you do this by managing the time that you are given. This is why high achievers seem to get so much done when there are other people who seem to accomplish nothing in a day given the same amount of time.


What Does Poor Time Management Look Like?

Many of us know what poor time management looks like and feels like. It's constantly running late for your day. Running out the door at the last minute, sleeping in too late, showing up it just the nick of time for a meeting. This is poor time management. It also looks like procrastination and barely meeting deadlines.

When you have poor time management skills, it impacts every area of your life. When you constantly feel like you have to rush and don't have enough time, it's very easy to lose your temper with those around you. This includes both your co-workers and your family. How many times have you been in a fight with your family as you try to get out the door? If you had just managed your time better before needing to leave, you could have gone out the door smoothly and been on time with a good attitude.

What Does Good Time Management Look Like?

When you are managing your time efficiently, you are less stressed because you know what is on your plate for the day and that you have not over-committed yourself. You are more productive in your day and a more efficient worker. You are working smarter instead of harder.

Managing your time properly allows you to rise above the level that you were previously at. It opens new doors for you as you become more organized and produce higher-quality work.

What Does Time Management Include?

There are certain skills that are necessary to have good time management abilities. The areas of time management can be broken down into goal setting, planning, prioritizing, decision-making, delegating, and scheduling.

There usually isn't just one way or one area that needs to be improved because there is so much that is involved in the process of time management. If you are looking at increasing your productivity, there's a good chance that you will need to focus on multiple areas in order to boost your time management skills.

Goal Setting

Goal setting is an important part of time management because it gives you an overall focus on what you are trying to accomplish. Without goals in mind, it doesn't matter if you define time management, nothing will change. Without goals, there really isn't a purpose of needing to improve your time management skills. This should be the first step that you focus on time management because it will help lead you throughout the rest of the process.


Planning and Prioritizing

These two concepts go hand-in-hand when you are working to define time management. First, you need to prioritize. This means you are establishing what areas are the most important and need your attention first. Once you know what your priorities are, then you're able to start creating your plan. Planning allows you to see how the tasks that you need to complete will fit into your day. Planning also allows you to see when you do not have the time available to complete a task that needs to be done.

This can be very difficult to get used to if you are not used to actually planning your day. However, when you stick with creating a plan and following it you will begin to see that you are more productive and getting the things done that you need to.


Decision-making is actually a very important skill to have when it comes to time management. If you struggle with making decisions, then you can end up wasting a lot of time in your day. This is true whether you struggle with only large decisions or the small decision as well.

The highest achievers work hard to reduce the number of decisions that they need to make each day. For example, Mark Zuckerberg is known for wearing the same gray t-shirt every day. He does this because it eliminates the need to make a decision about what he's wearing. High achievers know that they need to save their ability to make decisions for the things that truly matter. Then when they have a decision to make, they make it.


There is only so much that you can accomplish in a day on your own. However, when you delegate tasks to others you can accomplish a lot more. It's important to consider when delegating what tasks you need to do personally and what tasks can be handed off to someone else. Make sure you choose someone that is great for the job and then trust them with the task. Many people struggle with the task of delegating. They turn the task over to someone else, but they continue to work on the task as well. This is frustrating for the person that you have given the task to and it eats up your valuable time.


Scheduling is a large part of time management. If you schedule too much you will not be able to accomplish it no matter how many tools you have in place. You need to have a realistic plan for your schedule and know what to do at that time. The better control you have of your schedule, the better control you have of your time. You need to account for every task you need to do on your calendar. This way you aren't trying to do more than what you realistically can.


As you can see, time management is actually made up of many different skills. It might sound like a very simple thing, but so many people struggle with it. And there can be many different reasons why people are struggling with managing their time. If you are having a problem with getting done with the things that you need to, it might be time to talk to someone about it. There are professionals at BetterHelp that will not only help you find out where your struggle is coming from but put steps in place to overcome them as well.

Time management not only affects your productivity, but it often impacts your level of happiness. When you constantly feel like you're missing deadlines, running behind, and taking on more than you can handle you will become overwhelmed and stressed. This will take a toll on you both mentally and physically. If you are ready to take control of your time and life, talk to a therapist at BetterHelp today.

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