Time-Management Skills: Definition, Examples and Tips for Improvement
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 3 May 2022 | Published 20 May 2021
Updated 3 May 2022
Published 20 May 2021
Being able to manage your time effectively can help you improve your productivity. Excellent time-management skills assist you to plan your daily workload and prepare for meetings. These skills also allow you to complete your deliverables on time. In this article, we define time-management skills, give examples of time-management skills, explain why they are important and discuss how to improve your time-management skills.
What are time-management skills?
Time-management skills are the skills that help you organise your time effectively to be more productive. Learning to manage your time effectively will benefit your career as time-management skills are useful transferable skills that apply in any job. Time-management skills include:
Planning is a fundamental component of time-management since it helps you identify and plan your daily tasks, prepare for meetings and keep to your schedule. Planning also includes creating work plans to meet deadlines. For example, if you have to draft a research paper, you need to plan the distinct steps you need to complete the paper. These steps may include determining the research topic, deciding on the methods for gathering and analysing information, drafting the document and circulating it to your colleagues for input, before submitting it to your manager for review and sign-off.
Prioritisation is part of the planning process. It involves assessing each of your tasks to determine their importance. Once you have identified these important tasks, you need to plan how you will spend your working hours making progress with these tasks. Prioritisation can also include saying no to additional work requests if you don't have the time to fit them into your schedule.
Your time is your most precious resource. Learning to say no is a challenging skill to develop, as we always strive to maintain positive relationships with colleagues. Saying no is a critical time-management skill aimed at protecting your time. You will become more comfortable saying no if you practise it first. It is best to start declining small requests to build your confidence before you decline involvement with larger work requests that would impose significantly on your time.
Good organisational skills support good planning. Organisational skills include scheduling appointments, updating your calendar frequently, filing documents effectively and taking detailed notes during meetings. Being well-organised makes it easier to find documentation when you need it.
Strong communication skills refer to verbal and written communication. Effective communication skills can help you explain your timelines and other expectations to your colleagues. This will allow your colleagues to align the completion of their tasks for supporting your timelines and expectations.
Being able to delegate less critical tasks will help you focus on the urgent tasks required to complete your deliverables. Learning to delegate takes time. It is crucial to identify the right person to delegate tasks to. If you learn well, you can assign tasks to experts who can perform a particular task better and quicker than you could have done.
Being able to manage your stress levels can help you remain motivated and perform at a high level. Taking regular breaks, exercising and meditating can help you relax and focus on maintaining your physical and mental health during stressful periods.
Good time-management requires self-discipline. Self-discipline helps you deal with procrastination and distractions. Once you have created a work plan with priority tasks, you need to discipline yourself to keep focusing on these priorities until they are complete.
Why are time-management skills important?
Good time-management skills help you do more in less time and with less effort. Spending less time on a particular activity allows you to lower your stress, learn new skills and keep focused. These consequences of good time-management can encourage you to achieve more career objectives and success in life. Time-management skills can make your work more fulfilling and help you remain motivated and energetic at work.
Organisations look for employees who can effectively manage their time, accomplish their work responsibilities before deadlines and to the desired standard. Managing your time and meeting your work obligations may help you get noticed by your organisation's management team and improve your advancement opportunities.
Related: 10 Valuable Soft Skills That You Need to Succeed in Your Career
How to strengthen your time-management skills
Strengthening your time-management skills will improve your work performance and can be to your advantage when you search for new job opportunities. Use these steps to enhance your time-management skills:
1. Set short- and long-term goals
Planning incorporates goal setting. Setting goals helps you understand what you need to complete for a specific outcome. When you set longer-term goals, try to identify short- and medium-term milestones that support your long-term goal. For example, suppose your goal is to get promoted to a senior management position. In that case, you need to identify the requirements you would need to meet to qualify for the promotion, such as completing a leadership qualification or improving a specific skill. When you set goals, ensure they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based (SMART).
Related: 13 Leadership Styles and Their Characteristics
2. Determine your priorities for the week
To prioritise tasks, you need to know their due dates and impact on other parts of your organisation. Prioritisation becomes easier with practice. Once you have identified important tasks, you can create a weekly and daily task list to ensure that you focus on these priority items until you complete them.
3. Create a schedule
Create a schedule with the tasks, responsibilities and other activities which need your focus. Having a schedule is essential, but so is ensuring that you adhere to your schedule. You can create a schedule by using your calendar to allocate sufficient time to each of your tasks, meetings and other responsibilities. At the end of each day, you need to review the day to determine if you are still on track with your schedule. If deviations from your plan occur, it may affect your goals and work tasks, and you need to reassess your schedule.
4. Delegate less important tasks
You can delegate activities that are not urgent to your team members. Delegating ensures that you use their skills and abilities. It makes them feel like they are part of the team. If you delegate tasks, you reduce your workload and you can focus on your priority tasks. After you have delegated a task, you also need to follow-up to ensure that the task gets completed to the required standard.
5. Practice stress management techniques
You need to take frequent breaks during working hours to manage your stress levels and maximise your productivity. Frequent breaks enhance mental well-being and performance. Make sure you get enough exercise, sleep and time to relax to allow you to perform optimally at work.
6. Focus one task at a time
Focusing on multiple tasks may cause a loss of time when switching between tasks. It is better to concentrate on one task at a time. Focused work increases productivity and improved concentration. Concentrating on one task at a time can help you complete tasks faster.
Related: How to Stay Focused When You Work From Home
7. Limit distractions and interruptions
To enhance your focus on a single task, develop strategies to avoid distractions and interruptions for giving it your full attention. Turn off anything that can distract you, including notifications from your phone, email and social media. For example, if you want to spend 40 minutes writing a document, do not answer your phone or read emails during this time.
8. Incentivise yourself
Think of incentives you can use to reward yourself for completing challenging tasks. For example, you can allow yourself some time on social media when you take a break after spending an hour drafting a document.
Related: Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivation
9. Use meetings productively
Usually, meetings take a lot of our time. To improve your time-management skills, you can make sure meetings are productive by collaborating with colleagues on the meeting agenda and assigning a note-taker and timekeeper beforehand. Also, you need to ensure that the session ends with specific action items.
10. Become self-aware
A simple way to improve your time-management skills is to become more self-aware. Knowing when you are most productive can help you focus on tasks at the right time of the day. For example, if you concentrate better and are more creative in the mornings, it may be more productive to focus on writing tasks in the morning. If you know your energy levels are lower in the afternoons, consider tasks that require little energy, such as reading documents.
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