How Good is Your Time Management?

Discover Time Management Tools That Can Help You

Manage Your Time Better

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How often do you find yourself running out of time? Weekly, daily, hourly? For many people, it seems that there's just never enough time in the day to get everything done.

When you know how to manage your time you gain control of what you achieve.

Take this self-test quiz to identify the aspects of time management that you need most help with. The results will point you to the specific tools that will help you to work more efficiently.

How Good is Your Time Management?

Instructions:

For each statement, click the button in the column that best describes you. Please answer questions as you actually are (rather than how you think you should be), and don't worry if some questions seem to score in the 'wrong direction'. When you are finished, please click the 'Calculate My Total' button at the bottom of the test.

   15 Statements to Answer

Not
at All
Rarely Some
times
Often Very
Often
1 Are the tasks you work on during the day the ones with the highest priority?
2 Do you find yourself completing tasks at the last minute, or asking for extensions?
3 Do you set aside time for planning and scheduling?
4 Do you know how much time you are spending on the various jobs you do?
5 How often do you find yourself dealing with interruptions?
6 Do you use goal setting to decide what tasks and activities you should work on?
7 Do you leave contingency time in your schedule to deal with "the unexpected"?
8 Do you know whether the tasks you are working on are high, medium, or low value?
9 When you are given a new assignment, do you analyze it for importance and prioritize it accordingly?
10 Are you stressed about deadlines and commitments?
11 Do distractions often keep you from working on critical tasks?
12 Do you find you have to take work home, in order to get it done?
13 Do you prioritize your "To Do" list or Action Program?
14 Do you regularly confirm your priorities with your boss?
15 Before you take on a task, do you check that the results will be worth the time put in?
Calculate My Total
Total = 0

Score Interpretation

Score Comment
46-75 You're managing your time very effectively! Still, check the sections below to see if there's anything you can tweak to make this even better.
31-45 You're good at some things, but there's room for improvement elsewhere. Focus on the serious issues below, and you'll most likely find that work becomes much less stressful.
15-30 Ouch. The good news is that you've got a great opportunity to improve your effectiveness at work, and your long term success! However, to realize this, you've got to fundamentally improve your time management skills. (Read below to start.)

As you answered the questions, you probably had some insight into areas where your time management could use a pick-me-up. The following is a quick summary of the main areas of time management that were explored in the quiz, and a guide to the specific tools you can use for each.

Goal Setting

(Questions 6, 10, 14, 15)

To start managing time effectively, you need to set goals. When you know where you're going, you can then figure out what exactly needs to be done, in what order. Without proper goal setting, you'll fritter your time away on a confusion of conflicting priorities.

People tend to neglect goal setting because it requires time and effort. What they fail to consider is that a little time and effort put in now saves an enormous amount of time, effort and frustration in the future. Mind Tools has two great articles on goal setting that are must-reads for everyone. If you are serious about time management, we suggest you start with Personal Goal Setting   and The Golden Rules of Goal Setting  . We also recommend Treasure Mapping  .

Prioritization

(Questions 1, 4, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15)

Prioritizing what needs to be done is especially important. Without it, you may work very hard, but you won't be achieving the results you desire because what you are working on is not of strategic importance.

Most people have a "to-do" list of some sort. The problem with many of these lists is they are just a collection of things that need to get done. There is no rhyme or reason to the list and, because of this, the work they do is just as unstructured. So how do you work on To Do List tasks – top down, bottom up, easiest to hardest?

To work efficiently you need to work on the most important, highest value tasks. This way you won't get caught scrambling to get something critical done as the deadline approaches. For information on how to start prioritizing your tasks, see
Activity Logs  , Prioritized To Do Lists  , Prioritization  , and The Action Priority Matrix   .

Managing Interruptions

(Questions 5, 9, 11, 12)

Having a plan and knowing how to prioritize it is one thing. The next issue is knowing what to do to minimize the interruptions you face during your day. It is widely recognized that managers get very little uninterrupted time to work on their priority tasks. There are phone calls, information requests, questions from employees, and a whole host of events that crop up unexpectedly. Some do need to be dealt with immediately, but others need to be managed. Our article on Managing Interruptions   discusses how you can minimize your interrupted time.

However, some jobs need you to be available for people when they need help – interruption is a natural and necessary part of life. Here, do what you sensibly can to minimize it, but make sure you don't scare people away from interrupting you when they should.

Procrastination

(Questions 2, 10, 12)

"I'll get to it later" has led to the downfall of many a good employee. After too many "laters" the work piles up so high that any task seems insurmountable. Procrastination is as tempting as it is deadly. The best way to beat it is to recognize that you do indeed procrastinate. Then you need to figure out why. Perhaps you are afraid of failing? (And some people are actually afraid of success!)

Once you know why you procrastinate then you can plan to get out of the habit. Reward yourself for getting jobs done, and remind yourself regularly of the horrible consequences of not doing those boring tasks! For more help on recognizing and overcoming procrastination see our guide to Beating Procrastination  .

Scheduling

(Questions 3, 7, 12)

Much of time management comes down to effective scheduling of your time. When you know what your goals and priorities are, you then need to know how to go about creating a schedule that keeps you on track, and protects you from stress.

This means understanding the factors that affect the time you have available for work. You not only have to schedule priority tasks, you have to leave room for interruptions, and contingency time for those unexpected events that otherwise wreak chaos with your schedule. By creating a robust schedule that reflects your priorities and well as supports your personal goals, you have a winning combination: One that will allow you to control your time and keep your life in balance. To learn specific scheduling skills, see our articles on Pickle Jar Theory   and Scheduling Skills  .

Key Points

Time management is an essential skill that helps you keep your work under control, at the same time that it helps you keep stress to a minimum.

We would all love to have an extra couple of hours in every day. Seeing as that is impossible, we need to work smarter on things that have the highest priority, and then creating a schedule that reflects our work and personal priorities.

With this in place, we can work in a focused and effective way, and really start achieving those goals, dreams and ambitions we care so much about.

This site teaches you the skills you need for a happy and successful career; and this is just one of many tools and resources that you'll find here at Mind Tools. Click here for more, subscribe to our free newsletter, or become a member for just $1.

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Comments (37)
  • Midgie wrote This month
    Hi Patriciaworthen64,
    Prioritizing is a critical element of effective time management as it means that you focus on the important, rather than the urgent, tasks.

    What would help you with prioritizing your tasks? Could taking five minutes at the start of your day to think about all that is on your plate to do and what actually needs to get done?

    Midgie
  • patriciaworthen64 wrote This month
    class of 1982,I scored an 64,my weakness is Prioritization, so true.
  • Yolande wrote This month
    Well done junior1983 on using your time wisely!

    Yolande
  • junior1983 wrote This month
    I scored a 73 on the time management quiz . I think it's fair for being away from school years .Thanks
  • Yolande wrote This month
    Hi YoungQueenBee

    An app that I like using (and that's really just a personal preference) is Any.Do (I use an iPhone). It's easy to use but effective for what I need it for.
  • YoungQueenBee wrote This month
    Is there a good free planning app ?
  • Yolande wrote This month
    Hi Connie

    It sure sounds like you have a LOT on your plate! Remember, we train people how to treat us. If you allow people to disrespect your time and they get results from it, they will absolutely carry on doing it. I hope you find a way to get some more time for yourself - and well done for starting your studies!

    Yolandé
  • Connie wrote This month
    My responses are merely for my everyday household duties. I'm currently multi-tasking a home with a man 100% dependent on me for everything, that is selfish to the point of interruptions on the computer, phone calls he prefers not to handle nor answer the door. I'm working on a new project development business that takes up time on the phone and computer. Others in the neighborhood depend on me for advice and comforting words since I've been adopted as "mama" or "grandma" to many. Being a parent of any type is essential to the well being of a person, regardless of whether it's a blood relative or not. Trying to carry on as a new student at Colorado Technical University starting 11/16/14 with all the other responsibilities mentioned above and my health, it's surprising that I did as well as I have on these tests. I thank you for your honest scoring and will learn from your honest inputs.
  • Midgie wrote This month
    Hi Charles,
    Time management is an issue that so many of use struggle with. Yet, by actually taking the time out to learn time management strategies, will help!

    You might consider setting a regular time each week to focus on your personal learning and development. That time you set aside is much like a regular meeting in the office that you must attend.

    You might consider working through all the resources related to time management or joining the Career Excellence Club where we have a Certified Mind Tools Time Manager course.

    Let us know if you have any questions and we'll be happy to help.
    Midgie
  • Charles wrote This month
    It seems i got a ways to learn!
Show all comments

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