Time Management Skills: Examples and Definitions
Updated November 26, 2022
Managing your time well in business is one of the key components to success, especially as a manager. Organizing your time effectively, staying on top of daily tasks and being on time for important meetings (even coffee meetings) will help you be more successful in your career. In this article, we explore what time management is, share time management skills and provide you with examples of how you can use these skills.
What is time management?
Time management is the ability to use your time effectively. Effective time management skills help you organize your schedule, tasks and responsibilities so you can complete things on time. Many career paths require time management skills, like jobs that require travel, for example. Having good time management skills means you can determine how long certain tasks and responsibilities may take. This allows you to structure your day to meet deadlines. Someone good at time management may also have the knowledge and self-awareness to pass on specific tasks so they can focus on the more important ones.
Why are time management skills important?
Time management skills are important because they help you excel in the workplace and make a good impression on your colleagues and managers. Good time management skills reduce stress and improve your productivity. An employee with good time management skills has a better professional reputation and, therefore, sets themselves up for advancement opportunities.
Good time management means you have an efficient workflow, produce good-quality work, and you can meet deadlines. These skills also help you structure your work or day in a way that helps you accomplish your goals. When starting a new job, determine how long tasks will take you so you can save time in the future.
Examples of time management skills
An important skill for time management is knowing how to schedule your day. Below, we share a few other basics:
Being organized makes it easier to accomplish your daily tasks. This can help you reflect on your required tasks and adjust your day accordingly. It may also help you reschedule meetings for days when you have more time available or send a delegate in your place. Being organized also enables you to finish tasks quickly and efficiently because you can find what you need easily. Organizational skills can also relate to someone who takes careful and diligent notes.
Here are a few ways to stay organized in the workplace:
Update your calendar: It is also helpful to set reminders 60 to 30 minutes before a meeting, so you have plenty of time to prepare and arrive on time.
Carry a notebook or your laptop: Take these supplies to meetings so you can jot down important information and take notes without having to worry about forgetting important things later.
Use your mornings to prioritize your tasks: Spend time in the morning figuring out your key tasks and priorities. Then, schedule your day around the projects that take up the most time.
Use a filing system: Have an efficient filing system for digital and hard-copy files and adhere to it.
Make a prioritized to-do list: Write yourself a to-do list at the beginning of the week, and mark off tasks as you complete them.
Determining what tasks you can delegate to other team members and what you should do yourself are two key measures of success for a manager. Delegating tasks better suited for other colleagues or employees helps build trust in your relationship with them. It can take time to develop this skill, but it is important because it can help you save time and be more productive in the future.
Here are the best ways to delegate tasks in the workplace:
Choose the right person: Choose the right person for the job. Take time to decide who is the best person to complete the task, rather than just choosing whoever is available.
Make your instructions specific: Give detailed instructions to reduce the chance of error, which can end up costing you time.
Double-check their work: Check the work once it is complete and give feedback.
Give them plenty of time: Always give the person who takes on the task plenty of notice, and thank them for their work.
Proper prioritization helps you stay organized and structure your day in a way that makes the most sense for you. To prioritize your tasks, you should first determine your preferred work style. Some people prefer to complete simple tasks first to make room for more prolonged and time-consuming tasks later. Others prefer the opposite and complete time-consuming tasks first.
Here are some tips to help you prioritize tasks:
Estimate how long it takes: When creating your daily to-do list, estimate the time it will take you to complete all the items on your list. Once finished, review and make sure there are enough hours in the day to complete your to-do list.
Identify important or lengthy tasks: Make a note of the tasks on your list that are the most important or time-consuming, and complete those first.
Leave time for last-minute tasks: Be flexible and adaptable with your prioritization, leaving time in the day for last-minute tasks.
Communication skills are one of the most important skills to have. Communicating plans, tasks and responsibilities properly to your team is one of the best ways to improve time management. Using good communication skills, you can delegate tasks, set goals and prioritize tasks with your team more effectively.
Here are some tips to help you communicate tasks:
Speak up and follow up: Verbally communicate your expectations and deadlines, and follow up with an email.
Make sure your instructions are clear: Without clear instructions, mistakes are more likely, and mistakes cost you time.
Confirm their understanding: Always ask if there are any questions about the tasks provided.
Another time management skill is the ability to set goals. Setting goals helps you develop professionally and keeps you motivated in the workplace. The best way to set goals is to sit down with your direct manager and review their expectations. As a manager, when goal-setting with employees, ask them what they hope to achieve, and work with them to determine the best ways to achieve those goals.
Here are some tips on goal-setting in the workplace:
Review company initiatives: Determine what you can do to help the company achieve its goals. Each company has a mission statement and a purpose. If you use your employment with the company to forward these goals, you make yourself an irreplaceable asset.
Be S.M.A.R.T: Use the S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based) model to create personal goals and help your employees create their own goals.
Break down larger goals: For larger goals, break them down into small tasks so they are more manageable.
How to improve your time management skills
Developing time management skills can help you be a better employee, manager or candidate. By putting a little more planning into your day-to-day, your productivity explodes. Here are some ways you can improve your time management skills:
Set short and long-term goals: It's easier to complete a large and time-consuming task when you shrink it into multiple smaller tasks. An example of a short-term goal is what you want to achieve in each hour of your day or over the course of a single day. Long-term goals are what you want to achieve in the following year or even throughout your entire career. Setting long-term goals helps influence your short-term goals because your accomplishments today influence your future success.
Manage your calendar: Keeping a well-organized and up-to-date calendar is one of the most professional things you can do. An organized calendar or weekly work plan means listing your to-do's for that day or week and setting reminders for yourself, so nothing falls behind. Some people find it helpful to colour code items in their calendars so they can visually see the various tasks they have for that day.
Prioritize your assignments: A great way to manage your time is by determining what tasks have higher priority, whether by urgency or importance. Tasks with a firm and fast-approaching deadline must be prioritized over long-term or extended projects that you can accomplish in smaller steps. If you have trouble determining higher-priority tasks over others, contact your manager and ask for their help to work through it.
Have a critical eye: It helps to take some time and reflect on situations where you met deadlines or managed your time well and times when you underperformed. Underperformances are great learning experiences, while your accomplishments act as a motivator. Once you think of an example, write down what you did well and how you managed your time. Remember your successes for the future, and when you find yourself overwhelmed with a deadline, think back to that time and use some ideas you jotted down.
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