To find out more about how people are managing their time in 2021 we have conducted some new, original research.
We polled 500 employees across a wide variety of industries to understand:
- Are they happy at work?
- Do they feel their work is under control?
- Do they have a time management system? If so, which one do they use?
- Do they regularly carry out a time audit / diary audit?
- How much time do you have to ‘waste’ per day on tasks?
- How often do you look at your emails at work?
For more details of our sample size and methodology, see the bottom of this article.
This is part of a series of polls we have carried out. The others ones include:
- Employee Happiness Statistics
- Management Statistics: What Employees Want
– Less than 1 in 5 people (18%) have a proper time management system.
– 82% of people don’t have a time management system. They just use a list, their email inbox or nothing at all.
– The Eisenhower matrix is the most successful time management technique.
– 100% of people using this technique feel their work is under control either 4 or 5 days per week.
– The least successful time management technique is ‘dealing with whatever comes up’.
– 28% of people using this technique feel their work is never or very rarely (1 day per week) under control.
– 1 in 8 people (12.5%) never feel under control at work.
– Only 20% ( 1 in 5) people carry out a monthly time audit to review how they are spending their time.
– 49% of people have never carried out a time audit.
Let’s take a look at what we found in more detail.
QUESTION 1: HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR TIME AND TASKS?
1: 18% OF PEOPLE HAVE A DEDICATED TIME MANAGEMENT SYSTEM.
82% OF PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE A DEDICATED TIME MANAGEMENT SYSTEM.
2: 33% OF PEOPLE USE A TO DO LIST TO MANAGE THEIR TIME AND TASKS.
3: 24% OF PEOPLE USE THEIR EMAIL INBOX AS THEIR TIME AND TASK MANAGEMENT SYSTEM.
4: 12% OF PEOPLE SCHEDULE ALL OF THEIR TASKS IN THEIR DIARY IN ADVANCE.
5: 25% OF PEOPLE “JUST DEAL WITH WHATEVER SEEMS MOST IMPORTANT AT THE TIME”
QUESTION 2: HOW OFTEN DO THINGS FEEL UNDER CONTROL AT WORK?
1: 20% OF PEOPLE FEEL THAT THEIR WORK IS UNDER CONTROL EVERY DAY
2: 66% (2/3rds) OF PEOPLE FEEL THAT THEIR WORK IS UNDER CONTROL MOST OF THE TIME (AT LEAST 3 DAYS PER WEEK
3: OVER 20% (21%) FEEL THAT THEIR WORK IS EITHER NEVER UNDER CONTROL OR ONLY UNDER CONTROL 1 DAY PER WEEK.
4: MORE 10% OF PEOPLE (1 in 8) FEEL THAT THEIR WORK IS NEVER UNDER CONTROL
ANALYSIS: BEST & WORST TIME MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
1: ‘JUST DEALING WITH WHATEVER COMES UP” IS THE LEAST SUCCESSFUL TIME MANAGEMENT STRATEGY.
MORE THAN 1 IN 4 (28%) OF PEOPLE USING THIS FEEL THEIR WORK IS UNDER CONTROL NEVER OR ONLY ONE DAY PER WEEK.
2: THE EISENHOWER MATRIX IS THE MOST SUCCESSFUL (“BEST”) STRATEGY.
50% OF PEOPLE WITH THIS ANSWER FEEL THEIR WORK IS UNDER CONTROL EVERY DAY.
50% OF PEOPLE WITH THIS ANSWER FEEL THAT THEIR WORK IS UNDER CONTROL 4 DAYS OF THE WEEK.
3: THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE IS THE SECOND MOST SUCCESSFUL TIME MANAGEMENT STRATEGY.
60% OF PEOPLE USING THIS TECHNIQUE FEEL THAT THEIR WORK IS UNDER CONTROL 4 OR 5 DAYS PER WEEK.
An Eisenhower matrix worksheet can be found at the bottom of our time management course page.
QUESTION 3: HAVE YOU EVER CARRIED OUT A TIME AUDIT?
1: 1 IN 5 PEOPLE CARRY OUT A TIME AUDIT REGULARLY (AT LEAST ONCE PER MONTH) TO SEE HOW THEY ARE SPENDING THEIR TIME.
2: ALMOST 1 IN 3 (31%) OF PEOPLE CARRY ONE OUT OCCASIONALLY.
3: ALMOST HALF (49%) OF PEOPLE HAVE NEVER CARRIED OUT A TIME AUDIT TO UNDERSTAND HOW THEY SPEND THEIR TIME.
For details on how to carry out a time audit please see our article: how to carry out a time audit.
QUESTION 4: HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU SPEND ON TASKS & MEETINGS THAT AREN’T IMPORTANT TO YOUR ROLE?
- ON AVERAGE PEOPLE “WASTE” 1 1/2 HOURS (91 MINUTES) EACH DAY ON TASKS AND MEETINGS THAT AREN’T IMPORTANT TO THEIR ROLE.
- ALMOST 2 IN 5 (39%) OF PEOPLE SPEND LESS THAN AN HOUR PER DAY ON TASKS AND MEETINGS NOT IMPORTANT TO THEIR ROLE.
- OVER 10% (10.5%) ‘WASTE’ MORE THAN A THIRD (37.5) OF THEIR TIME ON TASKS AND MEETINGS NOT IMPORTANT TO THEIR ROLE.
- THERE WAS NO SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PEOPLE USING DIFFERENT TIME MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS, EXCEPT TIME BOXING.
ANALYSIS: HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU SPEND ON WORK TASKS THAT AREN’T IMPORTANT?
- PEOPLE WHO USE TIME BOXING TO MANAGE THEIR TIME ON AVERAGE ‘WASTE’ 2 HOURS 20 MINUTES PER DAY ON TASKS NOT RELEVANT TO THEIR KEY PRIORITIES.
- THERE WAS NO SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE RESULTS FOR PEOPLE USING ALL THE OTHER TIME MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES.
QUESTION 5: HOW MANY TIMES PER DAY DO YOU LOOK AT YOUR EMAIL?
- ON AVERAGE PEOPLE LOOK AT THEIR EMAILS EVERY HOUR AND FORTY MINUTES (101 MINUTES) BUT THERE ARE BIG DIFFERENCES.
- 1 IN 6 PEOPLE ( 16.6 %) SAID THEY “LIVE IN EMAIL” AS IT IS THEIR PRIMARY WORK TOOL.
- OVER 50% (51%) OF PEOPLE LOOK AT THEIR EMAILS AT LEAST EVERY 20 MINUTES IN THE WORKING DAY.
- 19% OF PEOPLE LOOK AT THEIR EMAILS AT LEAST ONCE AN HOUR.
- ALMOST 20% (19.4%) OF PEOPLE LOOK AT THEIR EMAILS EITHER ONLY ONCE PER DAY OR LESS THAN ONCE PER DAY.
ANALYSIS: HOW MANY TIMES PER DAY DO YOU LOOK AT EMAIL?
- PEOPLE WHO ‘JUST DO WHATEVER SEEMS MOST IMPORTANT ” LOOK AT THEIR EMAILS LEAST OFTEN. ON AVERAGE THEY LOOK EVERY 2 HOURS 13 MINUTES.
- PEOPLE WHO USE EMAIL AS THEIR MAIN TASK MANAGEMENT TOOL LOOK AT THEIR EMAILS MOST OFTEN, ON AVERAGE LOOKING EVERY 56 MINUTES.
To learn how to have more impact with your emails see this article on writing persuasive emails.
The research for these statistics was carried out using Pollfish. 500 people were surveyed.
It polled a representative sample of working people. It was evenly split between male (46%) and female (54%).
It was evenly split between age groups with 20% of the replies being received from people in each of the following age categories.