Stress, time management systems and productivity.

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International studies always provide interesting comparative insights. A recently published research article from Pakistan provides an assessment of time management for education professionals that is just as applicable in a UK context.

The two researchers, Zatarullah Sahito and Pertti Vaisanen, explored the time management strategies employed by education that resulted in an increase in job satisfaction, higher motivation and making ‘their professional and personal live more meaningful’ (pp213)

It is clear that a direct correlation exists between perceptions of stress and the effectiveness of time management systems. Equally, no one time management system exists as a universal panacea. Instead, the techniques employed must be the best fit for the circumstances. However, the article argues that there are essential characteristics that apply to all situations. The four characteristics can be described as plan, allocate, prioritize and share.

The article stresses the importance of making sufficient space for full and detailed planning. The researchers define this as arranging ‘human and material resources’ (pp217) with distinct and ‘specified benefits’ (pp217) in mind. It is notable that the clarity and accuracy of the plans has a direct relationship to the efficiently and effectiveness of my activities undertaken.

The second key characteristic is the allocation of sufficient time for actions. Our tendency is the underestimate the time required because we think in terms of the inter: personal relationships that are required for it to take place. Simply put: almost all actions require collaborative effort and that takes longer than we like to believe.

The next key feature, prioritization raises a tension between the preferences of the individual and the expectations of the organisation Sahito and Vaisonen observed that there is a tendency to prioritise those activities that the individual feels to be important, often reflecting a need to feel in control of the workload rather than pursuing specific organisational objectives. The tension results in an attempt to multi-task activities which the researchers found ‘wasted time and reduces productivity by forcing the individual to switch from one task to another’ (pp220).

The final characteristics recognise the holistic shared nature of work, the activities and their intentions must be understood and agreed by the participants reviewing, adapting and sharing are parts of that shared nature. In other words, time management strategies are multi-dimensional.

The article is optimistic that time management can increase perception of control by relaxing employees attitude (pp216) but the study reveals how contextual and nuanced the appropriate strategies are. One-time management approach will not suit all.

The full article ‘Effect of Time Management on the Job Satisfaction and motivation of Teacher Educators; A Narrative Analysis’ can be found in the international Journal of Higher Education (Vol 6, No2, 2017).

‘31 Time Management Tips for Your Staff and You’ can be obtained for free by emailing ‘Time Management’ to enquiries@fulcrumlearning.co.uk

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