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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Time Management and Memory

Dr Shock
February 23, 2010
Getting Thing Done, GTD
Time management is often necessary to complete tasks in a give period or sequence. For this you have to weigh the importance of your tasks, which is the most important or urgent. You’ll mostly use some way to organize and remind your tasks (to-do lists), in order to reduce the cognitive load by having to think about your tasks all the time. Another important topic is dividing your time and estimating the time needed to complete tasks. I mostly use “Getting Things Done” or GTD for time management, follow the link for a post on this blog about GTD.
Memory obviously plays an important part in time management. You need your prospective memory to remember something later to be done, task to be done in the future at the right time and place. This is were your prospective memory comes in. You need your retrospective memory to remember what you have done and what has to be done next and when.
In a recent publication results were published from questionnaires on time management and both types of memory by 425 undergraduates between the age 19-59 years.
Those who had better prospective and retrospective memory also were more likely to set goals and priorities and they also preferred an organized approach to projects. They also reported to be more in control of their time compared to those scoring less on both memory scales. Interestingly the use of making to do lists, scheduling activities and avoiding interruptions did not correlate with memory.
Thus, it is not clear whether individuals who think they have good memories do so because they use these time management strategies or those with good memories don’t use these time management strategies because they don’t think they need them. Further research needs to investigate the role of time management mechanics on these memory processes.
Bad news for those developing software and other things to help with time management. This is not bad news for those who have less information active in memory because those with weaker memory may have less distraction and stress and they may reach goals more efficiently than those who have more information active in their mind.
But never forget, these are correlations and correlations are not causations.

Why is this important?

This kind of research can help to find out who could benefit from time management training. Clearly time management and it’s solutions is not one size fits all. Individual differences are important to be considered in how to use time management, if necessary at all. And which solution does work for this individual. Do you need time management and how do you incorporate it in your work, please let me know in the comments.
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