We’ve all got a lot to balance in our lives. You may have a few meetings on your calendar and a long to-do list. How can you possibly get through it all in the limited number of hours at the office each day?
That’s where time management skills come in. Time management skills help you stay on track throughout the day, helping you finish your work on time and to a high standard.
In this guide, we’re going to discuss what time management skills are and why they are important. We’ll also discuss how you can refine these skills so that you can handle your workload efficiently.
What Are Time Management Skills?
“Time management” is an umbrella term for a wide range of skills, but it essentially refers to skills that allow you to manage your time effectively.
Time management skills allow you to accomplish the goals that you have set for yourself. People that manage their time effectively set aside some time each day to decide what tasks matter most and to make room in their schedule for them.
Managing your time effectively frees up time that you can use on creative endeavors. For instance, suppose you are working on a big project that requires your full attention. If you prepare well and plan ahead, you can set aside some time to do some creative thinking, which could increase your efficiency during the project.
Employers look for strong time management skills in prospective employees. Those with strong time management skills are more likely to complete tasks on time and produce high-quality work.
Important Time Management Skills
There is a wide range of time management skills. If you are looking to outline your time management skills on your resume—or figure out how you can get better at managing your time—consider this list.
Some tasks in your day need to be done at a specific time, such as attending a meeting or handing in an assignment. Good time managers know to schedule tasks that are time-bound and avoid working too much on any given day.
If you have been assigned several tasks, you may be wondering: how am I going to get through all of these? The key is prioritization. Prioritize your tasks so that you are always working on what’s most important and urgent.
For instance, say you have to clean out your emails and work on an important project brief that is due soon. You would want to prioritize the brief because it has a deadline.
Being organized allows you to see what tasks you have to complete, how long they will take, and when you need to complete them. People who are good at managing their time schedule their work effectively, and keep track of all the documents related to their work.
If you are a manager or a team leader, you may be able to delegate some tasks. Rather than doing everything yourself, you assign tasks to other people. You delegate when you are unable to manage every assignment. You may also want to delegate a task if you know a colleague better suited to complete it.
Communication skills allow you to share your goals with other people more easily. Good time managers let other people know how much time they have and how they approach their work. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and makes it less likely for someone to ask you to take on additional tasks if you don’t have the time.
How to Build Your Time Management Skills
So, you’re thinking to yourself, “these time management skills are great! How can I build them?” That’s a great question. If you are job hunting, being able to mention strong time management skills is invaluable. However, before you start boasting, you need to actually develop these skills.
Here are a few tips to help you manage your time effectively.
Tip #1: Write a to-do list
To-do lists are a great way of keeping track of responsibilities and deadlines.
Before going to bed or starting work in the morning, prepare a to-do list with all the tasks that you want to complete that day. Then, choose what tasks you will prioritize based on how important they are and the deadline.
To-do lists serve as guides so that you know what to work on. This decreases the likelihood of you getting distracted during the day and losing sight of the most critical tasks.
Tip #2: Keep tabs on your calendar
If you are busy, it is easy to let your calendar get out of control. You may have dozens of pending invites, scheduled calls, and other notes.
As you go through your day, take time to reflect on your calendar. Is your calendar in line with the activities that you are prioritizing in your to-do list? If not, you may want to consider rebalancing it so that you are talking to the right people at the right time. Are you scheduling time for real work? If not, you may want to cancel a few meetings that are not urgent so that you can have a few hours of uninterrupted work.
Tip #3: Eat the frog
“Eating the frog” means doing the hard tasks first. When you eat the frog, you avoid putting off a task that you are dreading, making sure to tackle it at the start of your day.
Eating the frog at the start of your day gives you the momentum you need to continue doing great work throughout your day. If you complete the tasks that you have been avoiding for a while, you are back on track.
Tip #4: Practice time blocking
If you have a lot of tasks to work on, they may all end up blending into one. You may start writing an email, then realize that you’ve got a project brief to work on, and never end up writing the email that you started.
One effective way to manage your time is to practice time blocking. In this technique, you block out specific time windows so that you can focus on a particular task. For instance, you may give yourself one hour to get through all your emails. This allows you to focus on doing one thing at a time without getting distracted.
Tip #5: Set long-term goals
It is easier to manage your time when you have long-term goals. This is because long-term goals give you a clear view of what you need to do to achieve the desired outcomes.
You should re-evaluate your long-term goals periodically, asking yourself if you are making progress. Are you working on a project that is due in a month? If so, ask yourself if you are on track, and consider what you can do to maintain your course until the deadline.
Time management, like any skill, takes time to refine. Don’t expect to wake up one morning and suddenly be able to manage your time effectively.
Time management skills are in high demand, and with good reason. Would you rather hire someone who is unorganized and forgets to hand in assignments on time, or someone who follows through on their work?
By following the tips in this article, you should have no trouble building a time management system that works for you. Your time management skills should position you as a good candidate for a job, and, with some luck, help you seal an offer.