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It's About Time

by Brad Aeon and Herman Aguinis

September 20, 2017, doi: 10.5465/amp.2016.0166 ACAD MANAGE PERSPECT September 20, 2017 amp.2016.0166

Time management has helped people organize their professional lives for centuries. The existing literature, however, reveals mixed findings and lack of clarity as to whether, when, how, and why time management leads to critical outcomes such as well-being and job performance. Furthermore, insights relevant to time management are scattered across various disciplines, including sociology, psychology, and behavioral economics. We address both issues by synthesizing and integrating insightful elements from various fields and domains into three novel perspectives on time management. First, we draw on the sociology of time to describe two key concepts: time structures and time norms. We illustrate how time structures and time norms operate at the team, organizational, and national levels of analysis in influencing time management outcomes. Second, we draw on the psychology of time to show how individual differences including time-related beliefs, attitudes, and preferences affect the way people manage time and, consequently, time management outcomes. Third, we rely on the behavioral economics literature to describe how cognitive biases influence individual time management decisions. Integrating insights from a diverse set of fields results in a better understanding of past research and allows us to re-interpret conflicting results prevalent in the time management literature. Finally, we offer directions for future research and discuss implications for how organizations and individuals can implement interventions resulting in a stronger and positive relation between time management and desirable outcomes.

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