Good time management skills are often a topic of study skills conversations. But what are we talking about really?
You can’t manage time. In the words of the great Steve Miller Band, “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’, into the future…”
We talked about this briefly in our last post on student time management.
We in North America consistently talk about having good time management skills. But what we’re really after is actually good task management skills.
That’s the main reason good time management has little to do with time.
It’s much more about being able to deal with tasks effectively. Sure, there is a time component. We understand that. You have to know when you’ll do the tasks you need to do.
Time is definitely involved.
But it’s not really the most important component. Task management is a much more important component. Now we’ll prove it to you. Here are 4 reasons that good time management skills are actually more about good task management skills.
1. Not every task is equally important
Every task is somewhere on the spectrum of importance. But that spectrum is big.
Some tasks don’t matter at all. If you never do them, it won’t matter a lick (if you’re not from the south, “a lick” means “at all”).
Take watching every episode of “Gossip Girls” for example. Is that important? No. Not at all. Actually, you can replace “Gossip Girl” for whatever show you want. TV shows are by definition unimportant. If people lived thousands of years without it, it’s unimportant.
(The Office and Parks and Recreation might be two exceptions to the rule… the jury is still out on that one. But generally speaking, TV is unimportant).
Studying for test, on the other hand, is important. Waking up for school – that’s important. Washing your clothes – another important thing.
Hopefully you can see the spectrum of importance here. The more important something is, the more necessary it is to make sure you’re finishing those tasks.
2. Not every task is equally urgent
In addition to a spectrum of importance, tasks are on a spectrum of urgency.
Consider two similar tasks: getting your wisdom teeth removed, and getting your appendix removed.
Are both important? Sure. But if your appendix ruptures and tries to kill you, there is a degree of urgency involved in that task that might not be with getting your wisdom teeth removed.
The same comes with every task. Good time management skills really involve filtering tasks by both urgency and importance.
3. You always have limited time
Good time management also recognizes that time is limited… always. You never get more. You always lose what you have. It’s constantly disappearing.
If that’s the case, you want to spend as much as you can on the tasks that are most important and also most urgent. Failing to filter tasks through these questions often results in an approach to “good time management” that looks only at your schedule. Scheduling is important, but only if you have already filtered your tasks.
4. Super productive time spent on unimportant tasks is actually wasted time
This is a major reason good task management is more important than good time management. The most efficient student in the world will be a terrible student if he or she works on the wrong tasks.
The right tasks are necessary for good time management skills.
Are you convinced now that task management is less important than time management? If so, stay posted for an upcoming post on how to effectively implement a good time management strategy with this task management idea in mind.