"You may delay, but time will not.” As said by one of the founding Fathers of the United States, the famous scientist and great thinker Benjamin Franklin. It has been proven time and time again (no pun intended) how proper management of time can lead to an overall better management of your well-being and life. But of course, a quote from an intellectual man is not the only proof of how time management can lead you to a better path. A study done in 2021 by Aeon, Faber, and Panaccio has shown that time management can lead to better job performance and well-being, also higher academic achievement. It also enhances their life satisfaction–more than the performance of an individual. This is what makes this study interesting since it was a common idea that time management improves one’s work performance and wellbeing is a result of it. Research in 2018 by Wang and Wang has supported these years of knowledge that time management can positively affect anxiety, depression, and sleep quality. Meaning, those who manage their time truly maximize their well-being.
But, how should we do it? You should divert your focus on three things.
In an experiment by Barnett in 2016, they noticed how self-control is much needed in modern times where there’s unlimited choices for what a student can do with their free time such as using social media or other platforms to watch movies or series. Self-control is an important key to avoid procrastinating and manage their time better. This experiment focused on three things: goal setting, positive reinforcement, and self-monitoring. This is what they call the self-management technique.
Goal-setting. Instead of planning your tasks for a week, plan your schedule daily. This works perfectly because of how an individual constantly adjusts their tasks that could probably clash, when deadlines for assignments change, or even your unexpected personal plans that emerge through that day. It helps you to plan your day ahead realistically with consideration of your tasks and personal life.
Positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement only becomes successful if you set realistic goals for yourself because it allows positive reinforcement to happen more often and consistently. For example, in the same experiment, they made the students who met their daily goals for three days straight to a specialty coffee and if they met their daily goals for seven days continuously, they would get a reward of their own choice, it can be either going out with friends, doing their hobby, or shopping. Because they planned the goals that they only can achieve within a day, it feels more satisfying as they get rewarded right away.
Self-monitoring. This is where self-monitoring enters. You can write your goals and tasks for that day in a planner, notebook, or even in a phone and it’s better if you can cross it out or have a check box on the side of each task. Once you’ve finished a task, you can check it out and monitor what you’ve finished and what needs to be done. It is highly suggested for you to see your achievements right away, that itself can sometimes also be rewarding because you know how you fulfilled it and you can move on to a new activity.
Of course, if this is done correctly, the results are almost satisfying and can really have a positive effect on someone’s overall performance and life. Although, when you’re new to this kind of routine, it’s almost impossible to start and just do it. With that in mind, I remembered this Two-minute Rule in James Clear’s book entitled Atomic Habits that essentially re-introduces habits as something big and could possibly alter one’s way of living…
“When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do it.”
Make time management your new habit. Start it small yet, attainable and doable. Or better yet, when you know you can do a task within two minutes, do it anyway. If you can’t start your assignment right away, maybe read your notes for two minutes then drop it. At least you have an idea of what your assignment would be about. If you can’t begin your duty given by your boss that day, try to check what you completed yesterday and a week before in two minutes. You can start reading at least one page of the book, or buy the things you need for your activity, and you can plan your morning, if not the whole day. The trick is, once you’ve begun to do your goals, it’s easier to continue doing it.
Because at the end of the day, if you’re controlled by time then you are losing, always rushing and cramming but those who manage their time wins and live their life to the fullest.
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Aeon B, Faber A, Panaccio A (2021). Does time management work? A meta-analysis. PLoS ONE 16(1): e0245066. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0245066
Barnett, A. (2016). "Honorable Time Management" Honorable Mention 3( 2 ), Article 5. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/honorable_mention/vol3/iss2/5
Clear, J. (2018). Atomic habits: tiny changes, remarkable results : an easy & proven way to build good habits & break bad ones. New York, New York, Avery, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
Wang, P., & Wang, X. (2018). Effect of Time Management Training on Anxiety, Depression, and Sleep Quality. Iranian journal of public health, 47(12), 1822–1831.