A mastery of time-management skills enables a professional to accomplish their daily responsibilities quickly and effectively. If you’re a professional who finds time management challenging, it can be helpful to know different techniques you can use to develop time-management skills. In this article, we discuss 10 ways to manage your time more effectively.
Why are time-management skills important?
Time-management skills are a broad set of skills that help you manage the time you spend during the workday and ensure that it’s being spent as effectively as possible. A few essential time-management skills include:
This is the act of assigning a level of importance to different tasks and ensuring that tasks of higher importance are accomplished before tasks of lower importance. Effectively prioritizing your tasks requires that you have a strong understanding of how long each job you have will take you to complete. Becoming skilled at prioritizing your responsibilities will also allow you to complete your essential tasks more efficiently.
Being able to analyze a task or a set of tasks and develop a schedule for their completion is essential. Effective time management requires you to have strong planning skills to ensure you can develop and apply an organized understanding of your responsibilities when constructing your task schedules.
The ability to recognize your personal stress levels and make accommodations within your work can keep your level of stress low. Rewarding yourself, delegating your tasks and taking breaks when needed allows you to stay focused and motivated as you accomplish each of the daily tasks on your schedule. Understanding your stress levels will also help you effectively use breaks during your day and know when to turn down tasks that will overwhelm you.
Setting defined goals for yourself throughout your work, such as accomplishing a specific task or a segment of a job, is an essential part of time management. Setting a series of realistic goals and a series of optimal goals allows you to feel each accomplishment throughout your day as a source of motivation and encouragement. Goal-setting can work in tandem with stress management to help you increase your efficiency on an hourly and daily basis.
This skill represents your ability to express your goals, plans and needs in verbal and written forms. Well-developed communication skills allow you to develop efficient schedules and plans. It also helps you in accomplishing your tasks more effectively through delegation and teamwork.
How to improve time-management skills
Try some of these 10 techniques to improve time management:
- Start your tasks early.
- Set limits for what you’ll say yes to.
- Give yourself breaks.
- Prioritize your tasks.
- Schedule your tasks and deadlines.
- Organize your workplace.
- Learn your patterns of productivity.
- Use technology to help keep you accountable.
- Focus on one task at a time.
- Reinforce your good habits.
1. Start your tasks early
If you have the opportunity, starting a task before you’re scheduled to begin working on it can help you overcome the initial preparatory stages of an assignment. This enables you to start developing your strategy preemptively, which can also help overcome procrastination.
2. Set limits for what you’ll say yes to
Many people will accept as many responsibilities as others ask of them to make a positive impression and demonstrate their dedication to their work. However, taking on too many responsibilities can make developing a schedule that accommodates all of your tasks very challenging. Setting limits for how many active jobs you’re willing to accept from others can help you avoid having an overwhelming number of responsibilities.
3. Give yourself breaks
Dedicating time in your day to brief disconnections from your work will allow you to decompress and come back to your active tasks with a new perspective. Learning when to take dedicated breaks throughout your day will also help you develop effective stress management habits.
4. Prioritize your tasks
Determine how important each of your tasks is to each other. Assigning a priority to specific tasks can help you focus your efforts on the things that need your time the most. Practicing prioritizing your tasks allows you to understand how to better construct your schedules and identify which tasks are worth delegating.
5. Schedule your tasks and their deadlines
Take time to compose a detailed schedule for each of your active tasks and set firm deadlines for them. Doing this can help you visualize which tasks need more effort and can help you better understand the pace at which you’re capable of completing your work. Make a habit of keeping your schedule up to date, as a comprehensive schedule can serve as the foundation for helping you grow your planning and prioritization skills.
6. Organize your workspace
An organized workspace can help you save time within your day by preventing you from having to search for the materials you need to complete each task. Additionally, developing organizational skills will help you strengthen your planning capabilities. Not having to worry about finding particular documents or task materials will help alleviate daily stress.
7. Learn your patterns of productivity
Everybody has different patterns of how productive they are throughout their day. Some people are much more efficient in the earlier hours of the day, whereas others may not hit their productivity peak until after lunch. Identifying what times of day are the most productive for you can help you use each part of the day more effectively. By scheduling faster or easier tasks during your less productive times, you ensure that your peak productivity is being devoted to longer, higher-priority tasks.
8. Use technology to help keep you accountable
Time tracking and daily management software are becoming more commonly integrated into the workplace every year. Time-tracking software lets you time how long it takes you to complete individual tasks, and daily management software integrates your time-tracking results into your schedule. Together, these tools will allow you to create more realistic and accurate schedules and can help you catch yourself before becoming distracted or procrastinating for too long.
9. Focus on one task at a time
Multitasking may seem like an effective strategy to accomplish multiple tasks more quickly. However, those who focus on completing two assignments one at a time typically complete each task faster and with greater quality than those who multitask. Spending your time focusing on completing one task at a time will also help you reduce the potential for distractions.
10. Reinforce your good habits
When you finish tasks or you notice that you’ve made a difference in your productivity by developing your time-management skills using some of these techniques, you may want to reinforce your success with a small reward. Finding an enjoyable reward for yourself that doesn’t detract from your daily productivity may reduce stress and motivate you to continue developing your time-management skills.