Time management is the method of planning and balancing your time between different activities. Good time management helps you to complete a given task in a specific time frame amidst challenges and tight schedules. When you manage your schedule and deadlines, strong time management skills help you better your reputation and move ahead in the workplace.
In this article, we discuss the meaning of time management, its importance and how you can both improve upon and showcase your skills during the job search.
What are time management skills?
Time management skills are those that help you use your time effectively and achieve desired results. Time management skills can help you allocate your time properly and accomplish tasks efficiently. Some of the most important skills related to successful time management skills include:
- Goal setting
- Stress management
Staying organised helps you to keep track of your responsibilities and priorities, like what you need to do first and when to do the rest of it. An organised list of tasks acts as a map to guide you from morning to evening and helps increase your productivity. A well-organised plan helps you break down large goals into smaller, easily achievable tasks and enables you to complete those tasks on time.
Prioritisation is the key to successful time management. When you prioritise your daily tasks, you ensure that you will complete the important tasks first. Write down every single task starting with the top priority. For instance, you can break down your tasks as the following:
- A-level tasks: Things that will lead to major consequences if not done today
- B-level tasks: Activities that may have a negative effect if not completed today
- C-level tasks: Activities that have no consequence if not completed today
Goal setting is the process of defining your aims and objectives with a certain plan to help you achieve the set goals. Setting goals is a key step in excelling as a professional. Without goals, you may find it challenging to complete your tasks in a well-organised manner. Setting both short- and long-term goals can lead to success in your career. An example of a short-term goal may be to increase sales in your department by 40%. A long-term goal could be something like completing law school or starting your own business.
Communication skills are a major component of success in life. Effective communication promotes trust and makes your plans and goals clear to people you work with. It plays a crucial role in resolving conflicts and preventing potential conflict situations. Strong communication helps you delegate more work, which lets you focus more on the important tasks that support your goals.
Planning is the core of time management. With a proper plan, you can prioritise your tasks accordingly, which can help avoid confusion and unnecessary stress. A planned work schedule helps you complete the tasks in the given time frame. For example, a plan for a project manager might include ordering supplies, scheduling labour, acquiring the proper permits and so on.
It is an important process to manage multiple tasks satisfactorily. While managing a project, you can delegate some of the tasks to your subordinates. This will help in reducing your workload so that you can focus more on important tasks, such as planning, business analysis and others.
Positively handling stress keeps you motivated and helps you complete tasks at the scheduled time against all adversities. Exercise, yoga or having snacks during breaks can help you reduce stress. In fact, including stress-relieving activities or self-care rituals into your daily schedule can positively impact your productivity on work-related tasks throughout the day.
It's vital that you maintain some flexibility in your schedule. Often, a task will take longer than you expect or your supervisor will give you a priority task you weren't expecting. Clearly note in your daily schedule where you have space to adjust in preparation for last-minute changes.
Why are time management skills important?
If you want to excel in life, you have to respect the importance of time and find a way to manage it efficiently. Time management skills help you systematically organise your tasks and accomplish them by their deadline.
For example, if you are looking for a job, you need to devote time to updating your resume, searching for job openings, researching good companies for openings, applying and preparing for interviews. Setting aside some specific time daily for the job-related tasks can help you in getting the right job. For example, managing your time properly can give you more time to read job postings thoroughly and finding the ones that best suit your needs.
Proper time management allows you to be creative and proactive with your goals. With a well-defined time frame for each workplace task, you can ensure you're contributing to the company in a reliable way.
How to improve your time management skills
With limited time at your disposal and numerous tasks to accomplish in your professional and personal life, time management is a challenging task. Whether you're an executive or a job aspirant, better time management skills can not only help you become a better employee but also a strong candidate while applying for new opportunities. Some ways to improve your time management skills are given below:
- Prepare a schedule and follow it strictly
- Set some boundaries for yourself
- Fix deadlines
- Set long- and short-term goals
- Manage your calendar effectively
- Prioritise your assignments
1. Prepare a schedule and follow it strictly
Organise your days and weeks well in advance. There might be unforeseen circumstances, so take into account the kinds of challenges that may arise in your work and budget time around your tasks and responsibilities. Spend some days tracking everything you do. This will help you identify recurring tasks, which you can include in your schedule.
2. Set some boundaries for yourself
If you want to accomplish tasks on time without any distraction, you need to inform your team and family members about your limitations and when you aren't available. Be sure to communicate your limits in a polite, direct manner. Make it clear to everybody which hours of the day you prefer not to be disturbed at all, except in case of an emergency. During these times, set your phone to do-not-disturb and close any chatting applications on your computer to help you focus exclusively on the task at hand.
3. Fix deadlines
When you have a task, set a realistic deadline and strictly follow it. The deadline should be a few days before the delivery date whenever possible so that you can review the tasks and implement corrective measures. Keep an eye on the progress of the work and provide timely feedback to ensure that the project is not deviating from its course.
4. Set long- and short-term goals
Set at least one long-term goal that you wish to achieve. These goals give an idea of what direction you want your life to go in. However, every long-term goal needs related short-term goals as well, as they keep you on track and motivate you to realise your long-term goals. For example, if your objective is to get a promotion within six months, you need to set the short-term goal of improving certain skill sets related to the new position. Your goals should follow the SMART goal strategy to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based.
5. Manage your calendar effectively
A calendar is one of the most important tools to manage your time, productivity and effectiveness. A calendar allows you to stay caught up on your appointments while giving you a physical space to plan what you need to do first and when, why your involvement is required and what you can complete at a later date. You might consider reserving certain brackets of time regularly for meetings or important tasks.
6. Prioritise your assignments
Prioritisation is one of the cornerstones of productivity as it can help with everything from time management to work-life balance. You can practise prioritisation by including tasks in one master list then breaking it down by daily goals, weekly goals and monthly goals. One way to help you prioritise your schedule is to separate time-bound and important tasks:
- Important, but not time-bound tasks: Decide when you'll do these and schedule them in your calendar.
- Time-bound tasks: Add these to your immediate to-do list. If necessary, find colleagues to assist you to ensure these tasks meet their deadlines.