Computer-based Time Management Systems
In the world of today there are many different approaches and various techniques that help people all over the globe to manage their time effectively. The vast majority of such approaches and techniques are used through the computer systems. Therefore, the research paper is going to address a wide range of the time management approaches that are used worldwide with the intension to help people use implement them in real life circumstances. The overall research is organized in a way to address the best ten time management approaches and techniques. Thus, the research paper will go straight into the profound analysis of each time management approach with no further inclinations, just bare practical solutions that people can use in order to manage their time starting from today.
At times, people think that they have so many “activities” every day that it is “impossible to manage” them all at a needed time. However, there is a “solution to such a problem” and that is a proper approach to the “time management”. The vast majority of people do not know “how to manage the time effectively” in order to finish all the projects that were set to be done during the day. Even though there are more time to manage the job, it will not still be finished at a time and with the high quality. Hence, there is a way out through the “time management techniques” that help people organize their day in order to complete all the tasks by the end of the day (Bansal and Agarwal, 2013, pp. 126-135).
Based on the words of Stephen Covey, there are “four generations of time management”: the first one addresses the “reminders”, the second uses the “planning and preparation”, “calendar and appointments”, the third one adheres to the “ability to set priorities” and “control” the overall processes, the forth one offers to be “effective and efficient” at the same time. The idea is it “find the goal and control the operations” through the set of trusted system along with the creterias of “importance and urgency”. It is important to “get organized, protect the time, set goals, work in the priority order, use time management tools, master the skills of time management, go with the flow and recover from the bad time habits” (Melinte, 2013, p. 3).
One of the most widespread time management methods that are used in business is the ABC Method, which shows how to set priorities for the business tasks and allows to trace their fulfillment. The ABC approach is famous for its simplicity and at the same time high effectiveness for the reason that is not only can be used in a business setting but also in for the personal usage (Babakhanlou, Behzadigohar, Kurnik, Rousta and Zand, 2009, p. 4).
The “ABC system is the “grandfather of prioritizing strategies”. Ever since it was used, the purpose of the ABC was to assign a value to A (must), B (should) and C (put off). In particular, the “A” task is important for the reason that it can bring extraordinary results and so should be done in the first turn; the “B” task is also important but not that urgent; the “C” task is may not bring anything and in case of “being insufficient”, it could be dropped.
In all, the attractiveness of the ABC system is that it helps to “get rid of emotions” while making a decision towards the task priorities (Mancini, 2003, pp. 30-33).
At the same time, the “ABC system” is the ideal solution for the project management operations for the reason that it addresses the multi-tasking, including the “percentage details, importance, and priority”. The vast majority of time is addressed towards the management of the projects “A” and “B”. Besides, when it is needed, it could be combined with the “Pareto analysis” for the better effectiveness of activities in a “reasonable way” (Su, Bayramov, Szczecina and Lima de Faria, n.d., pp. 16-18).
The idea of this method is to put the actions for every day by categories and set them in the matter of priorities such as A, B, C by means of the importance of the daily tasks. The best way of using the ABC method is to incorporate the categories by tasks and set the order of fulfillment so that it was possible to know which task comes next after another one is finished. The idea is to set the categories by focus on the list of activities.
Hence, the order of time managements starts from the priority tasks starting from the activities with the ranking of “top priorities, secondary tasks, and the tasks with the lowest-rank consequences” The tasks are split into sections with the names of A, B, and C in particular (Babakhanlou, Behzadigohar, Kurnik, Rousta and Zand, 2009, p. 5):
- The list of activities is addressed for the “most important” and “urgent” tasks;
- The list of activities is acknowledged as “important” but with “less serious consequences”:
- The list of activities is identified as “neither urgent nor important” tasks.
The COPE Model is known as the transformation tool that examines a point of view that “there is no such thing as lack of time”. However, there is a lack in the “ability to cope with the demands of the daily life”, which makes people think that “there is never enough time”. Therefore, the COPE Model is created to stimulate people to discover the following approaches of time (Karina Butera Consulting, n.d., p. 1):
- The importance of communication based on realistic concerns, while keeping in mind the future prospects and promising tasks;
- The significance of ownership about the management of tasks;
- Schemes of “planning, prioritizing and organizing the tasks that are the best to do”;
- In what way enjoyment, eagerness and incentive play a fundamental amount of the capability in order to be prolific and avoid postponements in the future.
With the help of coaching, it has become possible to find the “ideas and inspiration” of people and at the same time, get sufficient knowledge and learn the skills of the effective time management based on the Time Management Matrix created by Stephen Covey. The idea is to make people appreciate their activities and empower them on the way to use the time more effectively based on the strategies that imply communication, ownership, planning, and enjoyment (Karina Butera Consulting, n.d., p. 1).
The most important aspect of the COPE Time Management Model is to help the project managers and all the people who are involved in managing the time and priorities in the business setting and overall organizational environment. The idea is to understand how to cope with the employees and customers more effectively from the position of workload, changes and control. The major objectives are to address the time in terms of negotiations, planning, priorities, strong points, urgency, interruptions and procrastination (Karina Butera Consulting, n.d., p. 2).
All the daily activities are divided into four sections in regards of their urgency and importance. In other words, the “unimportant and not urgent tasks are dropped” whereas the tasks that are “important and urgent are done straightaway”. At the same time, the “unimportant but urgent tasks are delegated” and finally the tasks that are “important but not urgent are done personally but later”. Also, it is important to set the categories in the following way: “important/urgent, important/not urgent, unimportant/urgent and unimportant/not urgent” (Babakhanlou, Behzadigohar, Kurnik, Rousta and Zand, 2009, p. 6).
Such an approach to time management is famous due to the United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who considered the time as if it is the following: “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important”. Besides, there are difference perceptions of time management as well as techniques that are created to manage the time differently from the position of effectiveness and efficiency.
Hence, the vast majority of people consider the Eisenhower Method as the one that has matured more than other classical time management methods that are considered to be not that effective. In other words, by using this method, people become well-known by the assumption of the “wise turtle” (Melinte, 2013, p. 18).
Index Card / Post-it System
There is one more approach to time management, which is close to the ABC Method for the reason that it is considered to be “more user-friendly” for the people to help them organize their daily tasks in a timely fashion. The Index Card, also known as the Post-it System helps to differentiate the daily activities on “separate index cards”. In other words, in order to use the Index Card / Post-it System one should “lay the cards out on a flat surface and place them in order of importance”. Besides, every kind of surface will fit for such a simple procedure. The surface could be different, including the “wall and / or magnetic boards”, etc. the idea is to be able to see the cards in the front. Such an approach to the time management is used for two reasons, which are the advantages of the system. On the one hand, it could be used by the groups of people in order to set the priorities and operate with the tasks. On the other hand, such an approach allows people to see their tasks almost instantly without searching for the list to see the next tasks, which is the most important factor as it helps to save more time (Mancini, 2003, p. 34).
Another version of the ABC model is the inventory system, which is aimed at the focus on the best results. The method of the Inventory Time Management is completely opposite from the ABC approach for the reason that it does not concentrate on the values of people but rather on the post-activity analysis. The idea is to approach the time management activities from the position of “what people learned and how they managed to fulfill their daily activities during the day rather than to apply the behavior, which is based on the personal values”. The purpose for such a time management approach is to address the “more truthful approach to the personal behavior, which is based on feedback compared to the value orientation approach. It is important to understand the productivity of people by means of setting the goals and comparing the results that were accomplished in the end of the day. Thus, it is possible to compare the alternative means of time management on one’s own habits. Hence, the clue of the Inventory system is to save the time based on personal changes in behavior, productivity, schedule, efficiency, etc. by means of improving the overall time management practice (Mancini, 2003, p. 35).
The Payoff Method addresses the overall means of setting the priorities to the tasks that are to be fulfilled from the position of personality. This is the approach that considers the famous proverb by Benjamin Franklin known as “Time is money”, which means that time is not equaled to the “valuable commodity” that brings wealth to the people all over the world. In other words, the idea of the Payoff Method is to think of the list of tasks that bring all kinds of value, such as “financial, emotional, social, practical, pleasurable, etc.” and set these tasks in the scale of the “high payoff, medium payoff, or low payoff”. Hence, it is important to logically put the tasks in the range based on personal feelings and emotions in regards to the conceivable value. The idea is to choose the correct priority and actually start fulfilling the task that corresponds to the maximum objectives for the values (Mancini, 2003, pp. 35-38).
The Pareto Principles
One of the perceptions of time management uses a simple but very valuable formula, which is called the “80/20 formula” or the “Pareto Principle”. The examples below would be helpful to have a deeper understanding of the Pareto formula (Mancini, 2003, p. 39):
- 80% of a the organization’s revenues are generated from 20% of customers;
- 80% of the daily tasks managed by people bring 20% of the money earned per year;
- 80% of the time and efforts result in 20% of the positive outcomes, etc.
In other words, the Pareto Principle is a “powerful tool” that helps people all over the world to find the value. Hence, in order to achieve success in everything people do, they need to “filter the information that is available today by the ratio of 80%, which is not important and 20% that could bring the most value”. At the same time, the above examples are just a few from the millions of existing ones on the planet.
The Pareto method is known as the “simple and effective” time managing tool. The founder of the Pareto Principle strongly believed that “80% of problems or issues are the results of 20% of causes”. In other words, the 80-20-rule could be illustrated through the fact that “80% of tasks can be accomplished in 20% of time”. Therefore, in order to manage the time more effectively, one needs to create a list of the daily activities and pinpoint the non-productive ones. In parallel, it is necessary to review the schedule in order to acquire the time with “less productivity” and dedicate 20% of such time to manage the 80% of mundane tasks. As a result, there will be 80% of time for the tasks that are considered to be the most important ones (Babakhanlou, H., Behzadigohar, N., Kurnik, F., Rousta, H. and Zand, H. 2009, p. 5)
Therefore, there is at least one fact that should be worth thinking about is that 80% of the value that people bring into their business or employment result in only 20% of their work during the particular amount of time. Consequently, this is the time to think how to improve the overall productivity as well to boost efficiency of work every single day as this is the only way to correct the ratio. Besides, this is the time to use the time management tools in order to improve the overall effectiveness both in business and life as only by working on one’s own people can achieve true success in their lives. The most important thing to remember is never forget about the Pareto Principle (Mancini, 2003, p. 40).
In parallel, when using the Pareto Principle, one should organize the information into the related categories, rate it and spend the most time to manage it first. For example, in order to improve the Return on Investment (ROI) on the basis of the customer care complaints, one should define the 20% of daily tasks that need to be improved for the reason that they provide more value for the company. Then, based on the information from the questionnaires and surveys one should find that the results address the improvements of the particular points that are to be of the highest priority. Hence, in case to manage the workload towards these areas of work, the company will be able to increase the ROI and at the same time decrease the number of complaints (MTD Training, 2010, pp. 35-37).
There is one more way of managing the time more effectively is through the set of priorities with the help of POSEC method. In other words, the POSEC method reveals the set of important concerns such as “organizing, stream-lining, economizing, and contributing”. Therefore, the POSEC method could be called the “template of the emotional and monetary security”. The idea is that by addressing the “personal responsibilities one can project better impression on the other people and encourage the “collective responsibilities”. Alternatively, the POSEC method is the “acronym of self-realization” (Melinte, 2013, p. 3).
In fact, the POSEC method originates from the well-known Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Such a method of time management should be considered by the people of all ages, from students to the business people, who need to manage their time more effectively. Every approach of the POSEC method is explained further (Babakhanlou, Behzadigohar, Kurnik, Rousta and Zand, 2009, p. 5):
- Prioritizing: the idea of this approach is to set priorities to the tasks by their importance. At the same time, it is important to estimate the responsibilities and time for every task by means to obtain the highest efficiency;
- Organizing: the idea of this approach is hidden in the grouping of tasks with the goals that equal regular activities that are planned in terms of achieving stability, confidence and security (“family and finances”);
- Streaming: the idea of this approach is to find a set amount of time in order to manage the daily operations that are not pleasant to do but they must be fulfilled on the regular basis. Hence, it is important to prioritize these tasks by means to remain confident and at the same time productive (“work and chores”);
- Economizing: the idea of this approach is manage some time in order to fulfill the tasks that are rather interesting but at the same time not urgent. However, such tasks need to be accomplished with the professional approach and so could be set with the low priorities (“pastimes and socializing”);
- Contributing: the idea of this approach is to understand oneself in terms of any kind of contribution that could be shared with the world. The purpose is to spread the value in the communities and therefore such activities should be managed in the amount of benefit that could be delivered to the people (“social obligations”).
In case there are more options than usually and it is important to make the right decision, it is possible to use the “grid analysis”. The reason for it is that it helps to set the priorities and at the same time it allows to see all the “factors that influence the decision”. The idea is that a complex approach to comparison helps to obtain better results. There could be many different grids, “the more of them, the easier it will be to set the priorities”. At the same time, it is better to make it a “paired comparison grid” by means of setting more factors to make a decision. The factors could be organized both vertically and horizontally by means of rows and columns. The next step is to “weight each particular grid” by means of “assigning a score”. It will be more effective in case to weight the pair of factors. Thus, the overall score will be more affected by the prioritization (MTD Training, 2010, pp. 32-35).
The SMART goal is one of the time management techniques that help people to manage their time by setting the goals correctly based on the principle that each goal set should be “specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely”. In order to get a deeper understanding of each specific principle, please see the explanation as follows (MTD Training, 2010, pp. 21-23):
- Specific: the goal should have a specific definition in terms of what is planning to be achieved; at the same time, it is important to ask oneself specific questions such as who, where, when, why, what, which;
- Measurable: it is important to know how far is the goal to be achieved; usually it should be a set amount of things that determine whether the goal will be achieved or not such as the answers to the questions of how, how much, how many, how often;
- Attainable: measuring the amount of work to do is enough to plan the working schedule to achieve the goal however it is also important to know whether the goal is indeed manageable; if there is no clear vision for it, it is important to find the constraints that create bounds on the road to achieving the goal and remove them to make the goal achievable;
- Realistic: the idea of the realistic approach is to evaluate all the resources that are important to achieve the goal, such as finances, people, knowledge and experience; at times, some other version of the SMART goal approach the “R” to refer the relevant component of the goal that should be pursued with the skills and abilities;
- Timely: the means of time should be the most important in reaching the goal for the reason that the time directs motivation for the fact of achievement as well as the urgency of the goal to be completed on time.
The TRAF method or the method for the real-time traffic control of the tasks is designed to help people with the real-time operations. There are several alternatives that are important to address the TRAF method of managing the tasks on time such as (Molina, M., Robledo, M. and Fernández, A. 2000, p. 64):
- Panel: the idea of this concept is to address the number of panels for the road with regards to the information on the various messages that are important to manage the work of the panels;
- Message: the idea of this concept is to define the actual message for the specific panel, including the information on the various means of the road traffic, priorities and other valid information to control the panel operations;
- Road section: This concept identifies a section of the road corresponding to a point where a detector is located, and contains the different measures recorded by the detector (speed, flow, occupancy) besides other information related to the geometry of the road;
- Path: the idea of this concept is to understand the path as a road system, including the information that is important for the successful operations of the path such as time and / or the traffic jam;
Hence, the idea of such a method addresses the concepts of time management by means of improving the operational effectiveness and efficiency on the road, which saves a lot of time for the companies that work on the roads.
The comparison study addresses all the time management schemes, models, approaches, and techniques that are important to organize the time more effectively and efficiently for both business and life. There were 10 time management techniques covered above such as ABC Method, COPE Model, Eisenhower Method, Index Card / Post-it System, Inventory, Payoff Method, The Pareto Principles, POSEC method, SMART goal, and finally the TRAF method.
The time has come to address the aspect about which time management model is the most effective for the vast majority of people and the answer is that “it depends on people”. Everyone is different and what does not fit for one person will be perfect for another one and vice versa. However, there are some aspects that could be compared in terms of time management efficiency.
- For example, the ABC Method is ideal for those people, who got used to do the tasks by categories. In parallel, the Index Card / Post-it System, Eisenhower Method and Inventory approaches have about the same approach with a bit different method of categorizing the tasks;
- At the same time, the COPE model is somewhat similar to the POSEC method and SMART goal for the reason that they have special interest factors that define the fulfillment of tasks;
- Consequently, the Payoff Method is similar to the Pareto Principles for the reason that these models divide the tasks by two categories that examine them through the prism of top and bottom priorities;
- Finally, the TRAF method is different from the other time management methods for the reason that is addresses about the same ways of managing time but merely in the transport industry, which makes it narrow to be used for the other daily activities.