Time Management Scale – The Utility of ATOMS

time managementThe importance of effective time management skills in the workplace has been highlighted by issues including increasing workloads, less funding and greater diversity in the client base. A situation has been created where health professionals need to achieve more in less time, making good time management skills essential. The importance of these skills has been endorsed by graduates, supervisors of recent graduates, experienced practitioners, and educators in the industry.

To that end, researchers at Sydney University investigated the most effective way of evaluating time management skills that would be suitable for an academic environment and clinical settings. They used the Australian Time Organisation and Management Scale (ATOMS) (Covic, Adamson, Lincoln & Kench, 2003).

The Time Management Evaluation

Developed by Dr Richard Roberts and colleagues, the ATOMS has been tested with both student and employee populations and is reported to be a valid and reliable measure (Roberts et al., 1999). The scale was validated on a sample of 522 subjects. Six factors were identified, all with high internal consistency (from .82-.89). The scales are Sense of Purpose, Meeting Deadlines, Mechanics of Time Management, Effective Organisation, Propensity to Plan and Coping with Temporal Flow. The first four of these scales were used in the current study.

154 final year students ranging in age from 18 to 36 years completed the ATOMS. The intercorrelations between the dimensions were significant but moderate (ranging from .2-.6), indicating that they are part of the same construct, but are independent dimensions. No significant correlations were found between the subscales and age. A modest correlation was found between gender and Mechanisms of Time Management, with female participants being slightly better at behavioural activities associated with time management, such as using a diary.

There was a particular skills shortage found in the Mechanisms of Time Management area, with this being the weakest area. The respondents did however on average have a strong Sense of Purpose. These results provide useful information for informing time management training programs for students.

Time management skills have been shown in previous studies to be critically important in employment settings and now the current study has assessed students’  competence in time management. Findings suggest that on some dimensions they are well placed, whereas there is room for improvement on others. It also shows that the ATOMS scale is a useful and reliable measure of time management in a broad range of populations, including students.


Covic, T., Adamson, B.J., Lincoln, M., & Kench, P.L. (2003). Health science students’ time organization and management skills: a cross-disciplinary investigation. Medical Teacher, 25(1), 47-53.