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We all need better ways to use our time. Yet time is difficult to manage. Although it's predictable in amount, it eludes control. Although it's irretrievable, we think we can make up time lost. Although it moves at a predetermined rate, it often seems to fly and sometimes to drag. The greatest paradox of all is that, although no one has enough time, everyone has all there is.
Numerous articles have been written on the subject of time management, many containing similar recommendations for the conservation of this valuable resource. Too many of the time articles focus upon gimmicks, such as how to save time by not having a desk in the office, or how to dictate in your car to save an hour. These tips may be invaluable to a small sector of the business community, but their practicality for the majority of managers is, at best, considered doubtful. The literature did, however, provide usable suggestion. What was needed was unification of these scattered ideas and suggestions into a workable time-management system or process that could be learned and applied by anyone with a time problem.
A review of the literature revealed one reference to time management as it applied to the overall management process. Terry, describing the management process, stated that it consisted of the functions of planning, organizing, actuating and controlling. The management of time was located within the function of controlling. Further reflection on this leads to the conjecture that the management of time, per se, is a process itself, which consists of the functions of planning, organizing and controlling. That is, to manage one's time entails planning and organizing for its efficient use as well as controlling its use.
The benefits to be derived from a conceptual framework of time management are analogous to those derived from management theory. Koontz and O'Donnell state that management theory is a way of organizing experience so that practice can be improved through, research, empirical testing of principles and proper teaching of fundamentals. If this accumulated experience could be distilled into practical principles for general use, a basis for a theory of time management would exist.
The value of principles has been cited in behavioral research. Judd demonstrated that transfer of learning from one situation to another took place more readily in individuals who had been taught principles or generalizations that apply to both situations. Learning how to manage time would seem to be enhanced through development of principles that could be applied according to the situation.
With these considerations in mind, ten principles of time management were developed from an extensive review of the published literature on time management. These principles, while spanning the entire time-management process, are not considered to be all inclusive. They are best looked upon as tentative statements subject to further testing and refinement.