There is nothing worse than feeling that you don’t have time and are forced to rush an important project, conversation or task. Keeping on top of any workload is essential as you can be sure that new tasks will be constantly coming your way. If things start to pile up, everything will fall apart.
Afterwards, when you reflect on a sub-standard outcome, you wish that your time management skills were a little more proficient. Time management has a direct effect on your impact both as an individual and an employee.
In this article we look at the main types of time management skills, how to improve them and how to share some of them on your resume. We consider the following:
- What are time management skills?
- Why are time management skills important?
- 7 behavioral time management techniques and how to improve them
- 7 organizational time management skills with examples for your resume
Get time on your side by being deliberate and careful about how you spend it.
What is an example of time management?
Time is finite. There is only so much of it. When we work for an employer who needs us to achieve results (whatever that might look like) – how we manage our time matters. One example of time management might be writing a “to-do list” in the morning (on a piece of paper). It might sound old-fashioned; but getting our priorities straight at the start of the day is an efficient way to begin every morning. Then cross things off the list as you do them.
What are time management skills?
Time management skills are behavioural and organizational techniques and attitudes that help to improve your productivity and manage your workload. Management of time also has a direct impact on colleagues and is the missing link in a poorly performing team. It's also considered to be an important soft skill.
Being deliberate and consistent in managing the most precious resource of time, you will not only be able to do more - you will also have the option of doing less but doing it better. As mental health concerns and burnout plague our workplaces, this second factor cannot be ignored. Being productive also means having more time to relax. This is especially important since most of us struggle with being productive while working from home.
When the tasks start to pile up, assessing which time management skills you need to call on will make your days so much more productive. You will feel less stressed, and you will still get the work done to the best possible standard.
But what are the types of time management that might be useful?
14 time management skills at a glance:
7 behavioral time management skills:
- Align your focus with your future goals
- Say “no” more than you are comfortable
- Minimize distractions like a zen master
- Be accountable to yourself (and only yourself)
- Deal with stress in a way that works for you
- Be self-aware enough to know when to change
- Embrace flexibility when there is a better way
7 organizational time management skills:
- Make your priorities work for you and those around you
- Delegate tasks that will help to develop others
- Plan and measure your time realistically
- Optimize the work flows within your team
- Communicate at the right time and in the right way
- Schedule similar tasks together in bite-sized chunks
- Always avoid multitasking if you can help it
Why are time management skills important?
“What is the importance of time management? Surely some things will get done and other things will just fall off the table if I don’t have time. They can’t expect me to get everything done if they give me this much to do.”
You might not always get everything done, but you do have the option of getting the most amount possible done. Time is one of those resources that can always be spent a little more efficiently as we become more experienced, and technology comes to our aid with its magic. Here are a few key reasons why time management is important:
- Increased productivity: Good time management allows you to prioritize tasks and allocate time effectively, leading to increased productivity. By focusing on the most important tasks and completing them efficiently, you can achieve more in less time.
- Reduced stress: Poor time management often results in increased stress as deadlines approach and tasks pile up. By managing your time effectively, you can avoid last-minute rushes and maintain a more balanced workload, ultimately reducing stress levels.
- Better decision-making: Time management skills help you make better decisions by giving you the ability to assess the time required for various tasks, prioritize them accordingly, and allocate your resources effectively.
- Improved work-life balance: Effective time management enables you to allocate time for both professional and personal activities, leading to a healthier work-life balance. By setting boundaries and prioritizing personal time, you can enjoy a more fulfilling life outside of work.
- Higher quality work: When you manage your time effectively, you can dedicate more time to tasks that require focus and attention, leading to higher quality work and better results.
- Increased job satisfaction: Effective time management can lead to increased job satisfaction, as you feel more in control of your workload and are able to accomplish your goals.
Time management skills are a mental game of Tetris that helps us to make the most of our days and consequently sleep better at night. It's an especially important skill set for all sorts of jobs including, IT project managers, and chefs!
What are the important elements of time management?
Put simply, you need to identify the tasks to be done, understand how long each one might take, prioritize your effort and come up with a plan of action. Then you stick to the plan and bring other people in to help if needed. This sounds easy, but it is far from the case.
7 Behavioral time management techniques and how to use them
Small decisions and practices can make all the difference when it comes to managing time effectively. Although creating these new behaviors and habits may take a few weeks of mental effort, their presence will reward you for the rest of your working days.
So, what are some time management skills from a behavioral perspective?
1. Align your focus with your future goals
When you have a clear idea of where you would like your life to flow, finding a focus for time management tasks that will help you on that journey will not be difficult.
Focusing on any task requires a great deal of mental energy, but it is so much easier to allocate mental resources when you see the big picture at the front of your mind. If certain tasks don’t contribute to this brighter future, you might consider that they deserve less focus (if few are aligned, consider getting a different job). You can then justify your mix of activity to anyone who might wonder why you are letting things slip off the table - be consistent with the priorities and you will develop a reputation as someone who always puts the future first.
2. Say “no” more than you are comfortable
If you say “no” to enough people enough times, your boundaries start to emerge. So long as these boundaries don’t overly impede you from doing your job or others doing theirs, you will create room to manoeuvre. If, on the other hand you say “yes” to everyone, the demands on your time will multiply from all sides.
Such assertiveness is not easy to summon, but you need to take care of yourself, and in turn your strict time management will ensure you are there for others when it really matters. Protect your time and retain control of what your day looks like. People will then repeat your time when you do spend it on them and they won't ask you to do something that doesn't require your particular attention.
3. Minimize distractions like a zen master
Distractions can derail your time management in two ways: they first steal your attention from the matter at hand, but you then also need some time afterwards to refocus on your task (and will likely lose your previous flow along the way).
Avoid procrastinating, move your phone out of reach and let your colleagues know that you are unobtainable for a while. We often lose focus when we are bored or frustrated – keep your mind on the task at hand, but make sure that you also don’t work on things for too long or the lure of distractions will overcome you. Distractions are the bane of efficient time management - just don't give them a look in.
4. Be accountable to yourself (and only yourself)
The key to time management is putting your own needs first. The moment that you start thinking about others is when it gets complicated because you can’t possibly understand their priorities as well as you understand your own.
“I am the master of me” is an incredibly empowering phrase. Set your own goals, reward yourself regularly and track your progress. In most team environments, success for one will mean success for all. Accountability to the team is obviously important too, but you have to look after number one.
5. Deal with stress in a way that works for you
Whenever you read any advice around mental health, you need to consider it from the point of view of your life. Advice about dealing with stress that works for one person might not work for another. Stress can throw a spanner in your time management but dealing with your worries inadequately can make things worse.
Getting some fresh air, exercising more, talking to a friend, practicing a hobby and simply listening to music can be some ways of letting off steam. What you should never do is let that steam build up, no matter how busy you are.
6. Be self-aware enough to know when to change
Being organized and following a time management routine is all well and good, but circumstances can change, and you need to realise when things aren’t working so well anymore. If you find yourself starting to struggle, ask yourself why.
What is the root cause of the time management issue? Does the fault lie within or is there an external factor involved? Taking care of your time depends on many factors, so take the time to think about what has changed.
7. Embrace flexibility when there is a better way
While much time management depends on developing a routine and sticking to it, the key to enduring success is having the flexibility to tweak a few parts of the routine that are not making a difference anymore.
Maybe you have moved to another team that values getting things done in meetings and tries to avoid one-to-one decision making. In that case, your meeting prep is suddenly critical. It might be that your new boss prefers a monthly planning meeting rather than a weekly one. You will have to fit in with their schedule.
How time management is important for success in life.
These time management tips are far from only useful for your career. You only get a limited amount of time on this earth, and no one knows just how long they each have, so make the most of it. Time is precious – spend it wisely.
7 organizational time management skills with examples for your resume
The time management skills that we shared above were of the more behavioural variety and consequently less easy to measure, but there are definitely time management skills that are organizational in nature and therefore easier to quantify.
They also lend themselves to being easier to describe on your resume and therefore paint a picture of your time management prowess. What are your time management skills from an organizational perspective?
1. Make your priorities work for you and those around you
Using your energy and brainpower on the most important tasks is a hallmark of the most successful people. Look at how you are spending your time and see which activities are contributing to your goals. Then reduce all the other things that aren’t making a difference. Maintain your focus by doing what matters most.
“Project managed a team of nine through a critical path of 150+ individual action items. Changing budgets and 33% employee turnover meant that priorities had to be carefully assessed.”
2. Delegate tasks that will help to develop others
It is easy to farm tasks off to everyone around you, but if you consider not who is able to do a task but who would benefit from doing a task, then you may well get a more receptive audience. Everyone wants to develop and if they are handed tasks that will help them along their journey, then stuff will get done.
“Inherited a new team from a colleague who left the business, so managed to split the responsibilities of my current team to allow us to expand into new areas.”
3. Plan and measure your time realistically
How you plan your time management and measure the effectiveness of your time at work will go a long way to dictating whether you are efficient at work. Sure, having the right attitude will help, but if your plan is flawed then no amount of attitude will get things done. If things are taking too long, either cut the quality or delegate.
“Developed a planning matrix for the engineering team that resulted in 24% less downtime and all projects delivered an average of 15% under budget.”
4. Optimize the work flows within your team
Looking at how your team is operating together and making sure that each of the individual working styles combines with one another is no simple matter. When you get a variety of time management approaches mixed up in one team it may take some time to iron out the kinks, but it will be worth it. A team that works in one direction at the same tempo is a team that makes things happen. This is especially important for project managers.
“Created a managerial steering group to make sure that we were all aligned in a period of intense change during a business merger and subsequent acquisition.”
5. Communicate at the right time and in the right way
Strong written and verbal communication skills will help to explain your timelines and expectations to others. If you need their support, they will know where you stand. Equally, if someone else is getting in the way of you making something happen, letting them know in a timely and polite way will soon break the log jam.
“Managed a remote team of fifteen, spread across eight countries, leading daily team meetings for a month until we had dealt with the backlog of customer complaints.”
6. Schedule similar tasks together in bite-sized chunks
Chunking your time into groups of similar activities is a great way of maintaining your focus and avoiding constantly switching your mind onto different things. If you have a month’s worth of performance reviews to do, block out a morning or a day for them. There is nothing worse than wasting ten or fifteen minutes between tasks because it takes you this long to get into something new.
“Spent four solid days negotiating with all sixteen of my vendors and came out with a combined cost saving of 17% and a slimmed down supplier base of twelve.”
7. Always avoid multitasking if you can help it
It might feel great doing multiple things at once, but are you really doing them all to the best of your ability? Having to redo something because you weren’t giving it your full attention will just take up more time along the line. Wait to finish one task before you begin another, and you will be impressed by how much you can achieve.
“Implemented a reporting procedure that required my team to let me know about the completion of each project as it happened, and not starting on the next piece of work until the former was approved.”
Ever wondered how successful founders manage their precious time? Read here 15 productivity tips from successful founders.
Time management skills are essential at work to boost productivity, reduce stress, and enhance decision-making abilities. By effectively prioritizing tasks, setting realistic goals, and minimizing distractions, you can demonstrate your value as a reliable, efficient, and results-driven professional.
Developing strong time management skills is crucial for career advancement, as employers value individuals who can manage multiple responsibilities and consistently deliver high-quality work within deadlines. In a competitive job market, honing your time management abilities can set you apart from other candidates, paving the way for growth, success, and a more rewarding professional journey.
- Taking the time to think about how you spend your time is one of the most profitable things that you can do for any employer.
- Making sure that your time management skills are adequately communicated in your resume is a great way of impressing a potential boss.
- Time management skills can be a great way of streamlining not only your professional life, but your personal one as well.