The Surprising Role Of Emotional Intelligence In Time Management

If I were to ask you about your best technique to wisely manage your time, you would probably share a routine you follow at work or home. You might start listing tactics like "Do the hardest task early in the day," or "Only check emails three times a day." I'd be willing to wager you wouldn't say, "I manage my emotions well."

The term "emotional intelligence" first appeared in 1964 in a paper written by Michael Beldoch. It was in 1995, however, that the concept became more well known due to a book on the topic written by Daniel Goleman. Dr. Travis Bradberry has a fantastic book on emotional intelligence as well, entitled Emotional Intelligence 2.0.

Simply defined, emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions

I know what you're thinking... "What in the world does THAT have to do with how I manage my time?" The truth is, so much of managing your time is about managing your energy. And while physical energy is important, your mental and emotional energy are also essential in giving you the motivation and clarity to work on the tasks that will give you the greatest sense of accomplishment.

If you're looking for a fresh strategy to managing your time more effectively, consider how well you are doing in these four areas of emotional intelligence:

Self Awareness
The focus here is on recognizing and understanding your moods, emotions, and what drives you. Do you notice how different tasks impact your desire to work on the next item in your day? When possible, do you plan your day by alternating activities that add or take away your mental or emotional energy? And do you reflect on the larger purpose for which you are completing your tasks? Checking off 37 things may give your brain quick shots of endorphin, but it doesn't necessarily mean you're getting your most important things done-which is the whole reason to manage your time well.

Self Management 
Ever looked at the next item in your day and felt overwhelmed or anxious? Here's the bigger question: How did you handle the impulse to work on something else? Self management is all about recognizing disruptive impulses and controlling them. So instead of choosing to check your email to avoid a difficult task, you choose to break down the task into more manageable steps. Or you remind yourself of more difficult tasks you've undertaken lately at which you were successful to gain more confidence.

Social Awareness
For this area, think empathy. How good are you at recognizing the emotions of other people? If your job requires you to make requests of other people to get your work done (and most do), do you stop and reflect on how the request will make them feel? Most importantly, does that knowledge or insight change the way you frame the request? We've all experienced a leader or supervisor who seemed to be blind (or unconcerned) to our emotional state, and how it impacted our impacted our motivation to accept the task and/or complete it well.

Social Skills 
For leaders and managers who want to use their time well, this area of emotional intelligence is critical. Your best work comes from the full engagement of every team member.(Tweet this) And the only way you can get that level of engagement is to know how to communicate with them in a way that connects with them on both a mental and emotional level.

So if you're looking to take your time management skills to the next level, maybe you should stop trying to figure out how to squeeze another hour out of your day. Start spending a little more time reflecting on how your emotions are increasing or decreasing the energy you need to actually get the right work done.

How is your emotional intelligence (or lack of it) affecting how you use your time?