One thing we often tell ourselves (helped along by hundreds of well-meaning articles, podcasts, and influencers) is that if we only managed our time better, we'd be super productive. Not only would we get all our work done in a satisfying and efficient manner, but we'd suddenly find the time, currently hidden away in pockets, to write that novel or learn that skill or connect more deeply with our loved ones. If only we could plan more, we'd give ourselves more freedom.
This mindset, if scheduling your day into 30-minute blocks doesn't work for you, can give you a lot to beat yourself up over. But researchers from Concordia University have some good news: According to a new study, the benefits of time management are on a scale of years and decades, rather than workdays and weekends.
"Time management helps people feel better about their lives because it helps them schedule their day-to-day around their values and beliefs, giving them a feeling of self-accomplishment," said author Brad Aeon. Those who are conscientious about their time ("That involves people's attention to details, their desire for organization, to be reliable and systematic," according to Aeon) were best suited to see the long-term payoffs of actively managing their time.
Luckily, conscientiousness isn't a fixed characteristic — you can learn and implement it like any other skill. Ultimately, the Concordia researchers found that the longer you stick with time management principles, the more it positively affects your job performance. That means there's no time like the present, if you're looking to start now.