Have you ever felt like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything you need to be done? If so – you’re probably just not using your time right.
And, unfortunately, it can throw down your whole performance. As a matter of fact, without time management skills, all other skills are useless. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best at doing your job – if you’re not able to manage your time effectively, you’ll be procrastinating, missing deadlines, and failing to meet goals.
Improving your time management skills can help get past all those struggles and get you to work more productively and efficiently, increasing your performance and outcomes.
In this article, we’ll go in-depth about time management skills: what they are, why they’re important, and how to improve them. Some techniques and tools for easier time management are also provided.
What are Time Management Skills? Definition & Explanation
Time management skills refer to the ability to use your time effectively. It’s a complex skill that includes several other soft skills, such as being able to prioritize, plan, schedule, and organize tasks and goals.
Time management is a transferable skill, which means it’s a crucial skill across every industry and position. It’s also a cornerstone ability that is crucial for all other skills to shine through. Therefore, being able to manage time well is halfway to increased productivity and overall performance.
List of 7 Benefits Of Developing Time Management Skills
Good time management means you get more done in less time. Here is a list of benefits of using your precious time wisely:
- Prevents procrastination
- Better efficiency
- Increases productivity
- Reduces stress levels
- Boosts performance
- Faster goal achievement
- Greater work-life balance
The 8 Most Important Time Management Skills
Time management is composed of a diverse set of skills that help you use your time more effectively and increase your productivity.
Some of the most important time management abilities are to:
- Keep organized
- Schedule effectively
- Have priorities in order
- Set goals
- Openly communicate
- Plan ahead
- Delegate tasks
- Manage stress
Good organizing skills make sure you do not lose track of your schedule. Drafting a daily or weekly task list, for example, can help you manage your time better.
Tidying up your workspace can also help minimize distractions and contribute to a clear, sharp mind for more effective work. Furthermore, writing down notes and reminders ensures you’re not forgetting even the most minor details.
Having a schedule book where you can note every appointment, meeting, and deadline can be extremely useful, especially if you tend to be forgetful.
Having all of those written down in one single, organized book can prevent you from over-scheduling or overlapping commitments. Sticking to your schedule can help you get things done on time, and not miss any important event.
Have Priorities in Order
Prioritizing is a crucial ability for deciding which tasks need to be done ASAP, and which aren’t that important and can be done later or even discarded.
Having prioritization skills means you are sensible to accurately give priority to the tasks that need immediate attention.
Tools such as The Priority Matrix can help you determine the order in which you should do your tasks, according to their degree of importance and urgency.
Being able to set realistic short and long-term goals can boost motivation. Goals provide you with a clear notion of what you want to achieve and what you need to do to achieve it.
Besides, setting a self-imposed or external deadline for said goals is essential, especially if you tend to procrastinate. For easier goal-setting, you can use the SMART mnemonic, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Communication is an important skill for time management, as being able to communicate with your coworkers enables you to effectively delegate tasks and set clear goals. Besides, being in constant and open communication can prevent conflict and consequently improve productivity in the workplace.
Planning skills enable you to think ahead of time and visualize possible outcomes and prepare accordingly. Being able to plan for the day or week can help get a clear vision of your goals, as well as the necessary steps to achieve them. Making plans can save you time in the long run and improve your performance.
If you’re a manager or team leader, being able to effectively delegate tasks is a must-have skill. Breaking down a big, time-consuming job into smaller tasks that can be delegated translates into a much more efficient and productive way to work.
It will not only save you time and energy, but it will also bring better results when specific tasks are delegated to subject-matter expert employees.
Feeling like you don’t have time for everything, or working over-hours to get everything done can lead to huge amounts of stress. Workplace stress can also be caused by a fear of not doing your job right, which has been linked with procrastination behaviors.
Naturally, putting off such tasks will only make it much more stressful, as you might not even finish them in time and end up needing a deadline extension. It’s best to find suitable coping mechanisms that help you healthily deal with stress.
Why Time Management Skills are Important
Either you’re a solo worker or work alongside a team, being a good time manager is crucial for effective and productive work that generates the best outcomes. Performance-wise, good time management can make all the difference.
Being focused and flowing through your work, instead of panicking, switching between tasks, wondering how you’ll get all those done in time.
Therefore, working on developing time management skills is an essential effort for those looking to expand their skill set in the workplace and become better professionals, no matter the field.
How To Develop Time Management Skills?
Time management skills, like any type of skill, can’t be developed overnight. It requires a conscious effort from within, especially when it comes to understanding the nature of the special resource we’re trying to manage: time.
As an abstract concept, it can be hard to conceptualize. However, one thing Einstein taught us is that time is relative, and the rate it goes by depends on the person’s perspective on it. This perspective of time isn’t static but rather shaped by our human experience.
With that in mind, here are three capabilities that are fundamental for the development of time managing skills:
- Awareness of time: knowing that time is limited, and therefore, a precious resource that shouldn’t be wasted.
- Arrangement of time: being able to make plans, schedule tasks, and set appropriately timed goals.
- Adaptation around time: adjusting to the passage of time by changing priorities, extending deadlines, or re-setting goals.
How To Improve Time Management Skills in 5 Steps
Get an Agenda
A popular first step to kickstart better time management is to get an agenda of any type. A journal, schedule, or planner – whatever suits your personal preferences best. Some people prefer to plan daily, while others prefer to plan for the whole week.
Afterward, it’s a matter of getting acquainted with writing down your plans, meetings, and deadlines, until it becomes a formed habit.
Start Your Day Early
Who doesn’t love to sleep in? Apparently, billionaires – according to Sleepopolis, some of the most successful people in the world get up as early as 4 AM. However, most of them still sleep for at least 6-8hours a day.
This teaches us to prioritize sleep (rest is crucial for one’s productivity), but also those early mornings can be the most productive times of our day. In conclusion, set up that alarm clock for a little earlier.
Set Goals and Deadlines
Setting goals has been proven to increase motivation and provide focus. Having clear and time-bound goals in mind will help you manage your time more wisely and be more productive.
Similarly, having a realistic deadline you need to comply with can help you keep focused on the task, as you know you need to have it ready by that date. In essence, committing ensures you’re going through with your work until the finish line.
Skip Out on Multitasking
It might be tempting to multi-task if you’re in a rush, but avoid doing so. Multitasking may seem like a good technique to save on time, but, in reality, it leads to poor results.
It’s difficult to focus on more than one thing at a time and still make good quality work. It’s just not sustainable in the long run, even so, because it can cause mental health problems, such as stress and burnout.
Put an End to Procrastination
If you have the unproductive habit of putting off unpleasant or difficult tasks, it’s now time to break it. Procrastinating results in lower productivity, not only because you’re wasting time and energy levels, but also because usually, the avoided tasks are the ones of most importance and which should be done first.
GoodTherapy links workplace procrastination with poor mental health, often being associated with high levels of anxiety, guilt, or shame.
The 4 Most Important Time Management Skills for Managers
Managers are in charge of guiding their employees through their roles and tasks. They supervise, lead and make sure everyone’s performing their job correctly. Therefore, being a good time manager is a necessary skill for managers, as their job requires them to:
Delegate and Outsource
Managers must be able to effectively delegate tasks according to the skills and expertise of each employee or team member. It’s also important for managers to set clear and appropriate deadlines to turn in the work. Plus, they can also outsource when in need to save time.
Set Business Goals
Setting challenging but realistic goals for the employees can help them keep motivated and perform better. It’s up to managers to define those goals and set the time limits for their accomplishments. Accordingly, timely goal setting comes with being able to prioritize important tasks.
Strong communication in managing translates into giving clear and concise instructions, sharing important information, and providing constructive feedback. These avoid misunderstandings, ensuring work runs more smoothly and time is more productively spent.
Managers are responsible not only for their own schedule but, oftentimes, for everyone’s. They must be able to efficiently delegate tasks at the ideal time, and coordinate all the tasks that need to be done at the same time.
4 Tips for Better Time Management for Students
Good time management skills are important for students as they can help structure study and improve learning. Here are some tips for students to become better time managers:
Establish a Routine
Between textbooks, homework, and assignments, it may look like there’s not enough time for everything. That’s why establishing a study routine and consistent study habits is crucial for students – it helps you get organized and focused.
Take Frequent Breaks
Feeling tired, unfocused, or unmotivated? You’ll probably benefit from break times. You’re probably not retaining any information if you’re pushing through fatigue and exhaustion.
It’s difficult to be productive if you get distracted easily and are repeatedly losing focus. You’ll be spending much longer sitting at your desk and wasting hours of your day.
Setting small goals and rewarding yourself for achieving them helps you keep motivated and consistent in your study routine. Having a reward system can prevent you from procrastinating and get you excited to study.
Top 7 Time Management Techniques & Tools
1. Triage Technique
Use this strategy to accurately prioritize relevant tasks. It works by sorting out your task list into three different categories: urgent, important, and unimportant tasks. Urgent tasks are the ones that need immediate action and should be done first. Then important but non-urgent tasks, and lastly low-value tasks.
2. Time Blocking
Time blocking helps you with planning and scheduling. It means you’ll be planning your whole day ahead by reserving specific amounts of time for every task in your to-do list (for example, emptying out your email inbox from 09:45 AM to 10:30 AM). This technique helps you structure and organize your work while preventing you from multi-tasking.
Being similar to time blocking, timeboxing can also help you out with planning out a certain project or work. All you have to do is divide your schedule into separate units of time (timeboxes), each being dedicated to performing a certain task. It helps you build awareness of task/time relationships, which can ultimately lead to an improvement in self-discipline.
4. Task Automation
In the modern times, we are living in, task automation can help you save time and energy. It refers to the use of software to complete repetitive tasks, from simple to complex. Task automation grants less manual handling and makes for more efficient processes. Thus, it’s a great tool to enhance productivity.
The autofocus method starts with a lined sheet of a notebook, in which you write down a list of tasks you need to complete. Then, simply read through your list and start with the task that stands out the most to you. By letting your mind subconsciously choose what task you’re going to do first, it means you’re more intrinsically motivated to do that specific task.
6. Agile System
Agile project management is a flexible technique that allows you to break up a complex project into simple stages. For each stage, there’s a continuous process of delivery and feedback. One of the most important aspects of this technique is the collaboration of the customer, making it possible to deliver outcomes that are highly adapted to their specific needs.
7. 10 Minute Task
This technique dictates that every task on your to-do list should be completed in separate time slots of 10 minutes or less. If a certain task takes more than this frame of time, then you should break it down into smaller tasks. It’s a great way to sprint from task to task if you’re short on time.
How to Highlight Time Management Skills in a Resume
Time management skills are some of the most sought-after qualities by employers. Like any soft skill, it’s important to know how you can successfully describe and highlight them in your resume.
Being able to translate all your skills into a well-curated resume can make all the difference in your hire ability when applying to a new job.
Here are some key phrases you can include in your resume that emphasize your strong time management skills:
- “I am a skilled time manager and am able to consistently meet deadlines.”
- “I am punctual and reliable to show up for meetings on time.”
- “I am able to complete most projects and tasks promptly thanks to my prioritization skills.”
- “I can keep focus and perform well even under short time constraints.”
How to Answer Time Management-Related Questions in a Job Interview
A job interview is a situation of high pressure that can cause a lot of anxiety. One simple trick to avoid feeling nervous for a job interview is to go well prepared. And when it comes to time management-related questions, your best option is to prove you’re a skilled time manager.
Prepare by thinking about real past examples of events you had to use your time management skills to succeed or overcome a problem. By giving out a detailed description of how you managed that situation and what time management skills you used, you’ll be showing your recruiters that you do have those skills under your belt.
Time Management Skills FAQs
What are the 5 key elements of time management?
If you want to effectively manage your time, there are 5 key elements you should keep in mind. Have intention behind each of your tasks (one common way to do this is through schedules and to do lists).
Then, prioritize your tasks. Thirdly, you need to eliminate distractions. Either change your environment or remove distractions. The structure is another key element to keep in mind. Finally, you must be self-aware. Track how much time you spend on productive and unproductive tasks.
What are the 4 P’s of time management?
If you have trouble understanding time management, just remember the 4 elements that all begin with a P. These elements are prioritization, planning, productivity, and positivity. Positivity will help you remain motivated and passionate.
Planning eliminates inefficiency and helps you stay focused. Productivity allows you to make the most of your time. Finally, prioritization allows you to tackle the most crucial tasks first and contributes to your productivity.