Managing your time well can help you improve in your career. Organizing each day helps you to complete work on time, stay engaged during important meetings and give you space to be creative and proactive in your tasks. Having strong time-management skills can ultimately lead to accomplishing key goals and advancing in your position.
In this guide, we will discuss the meaning of time management, why it is important and how you can both improve upon and showcase your skills during the job search.
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What are time management skills?
Time management skills include a variety of skills that will help you manage your time well. Some of the most important time management skills include:
- Organization. Staying organized can help you maintain a clear picture of what you need to complete and when. Being well-organized might mean maintaining an up-to-date calendar, being able to locate certain documents easily, having a tidy environment and taking detailed, diligent notes.
- Prioritization. Assessing each of your responsibilities for priority is key in being a good time manager. There are many ways to prioritize what you need to accomplish. You might decide to complete fast, simple items followed by longer, more involved ones. Alternatively, you might prioritize your tasks starting with the most time-sensitive, or a combination of both.
- Goal-setting. Setting goals is the first step to becoming a good time manager. Goal-setting allows you to clearly understand your end goal and what exactly you need to prioritize to accomplish it. Setting both short and long-term goals can lead to success in your career.
- Communication. Developing strong communication skills can allow you to make your plans and goals clear to people you work with. It also allows you to delegate, which lets you focus on completing the most important, relevant tasks that align with your goals.
- Planning. A fundamental part of time management is planning. Being efficient in planning out your day, meetings and how you will accomplish things will help you stick to your schedule.
- Delegation. Being a good time manager means only completing work that will help you and your company accomplish goals. While this skill is most often done by managers, you can also practice delegating tasks if you are managing a project. While it can often be difficult to say “no” when someone asks you to do something at work, it is important to practice having boundaries to manage your time well and ultimately accomplish your goals.
- Stress management. When practicing good time management, you should also be attentive to your mental health. Handling stress in a positive way can help you stay motivated and perform well when going through your schedule. You might do this by including small breaks throughout your day, or by rewarding yourself in small ways as you accomplish tasks.
Taking time to develop each of these skills will help you organize your daily work, whether you are in a job, searching for a job or trying to develop a new competency.
Why are time management skills important?
Time management skills are important because they help you structure your work in a way that allows for you to accomplish goals. For example, if your goal is to get a job, you need time to update your resume, search for openings, apply, research companies and prepare for interviews. Setting aside specific amounts of time per day will help you complete the necessary steps to getting a job.
Alternatively, if already have a job, you likely have a variety of responsibilities to help the company achieve certain goals. Maintaining your calendar, meetings and tasks is necessary to be successful in your role.
Being fully present and focused results from strong time management skills. For example, if you are running late to a meeting and must work on a project you forgot was due while people are speaking, you might miss important information that could help you be better at your job.
Managing your time well also allows you to have space to be creative and proactive with your goals. When you have specific time set aside to complete your tasks, you can also allow for time to think about the big picture for yourself and your company.
How to improve time management skills
Working on your time management skills can help you be a better employee and strong candidate when you apply for new opportunities. Here are a few ways you can improve your time management skills:
- Set short and long-term goals. Practicing regular goal-setting can help you clearly understand exactly what you need to accomplish to achieve certain results. To hit larger, long-term goals, identify smaller milestone goals along the way. For example, if you have a goal to be promoted within six months, you might need to set smaller goals to improve on certain skills. Your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based.
For more on setting goals, visit SMART Goals: Definition and Examples.
- Manage your calendar. Setting time aside to complete the most important tasks on your list is important managing your time. You might consider blocking off certain brackets of time on your calendar on a regular basis so you are guaranteed to have time in your schedule without distractions or meetings. You should also consider whether or not attending certain meetings is beneficial. If you feel you will not add value or contribute in any certain way, you should feel empowered to decline certain meetings. If you do this, use discretion and be polite–you might consider sending the meeting owner an email letting them know why you have declined.
- Prioritize your assignments. Prioritization is a difficult skill but gets easier with practice. You can practice prioritization by making to-do lists. Writing or typing out everything you need to get done can help you physically prioritize the tasks that are most urgent or easy to get out of the way. If you need help, you might consider asking your manager or a colleague who is good at prioritizing how they would complete work. Understanding due dates and how the task affects others and business goals can help you to get certain things done ahead of others.
Improving time management skills can help you be a better worker and have the ability to focus fully as you go about your day. You can be a better time manager by being organized, setting goals and prioritizing your to-do list.