Time management skills are one of the traits that employers look for in potential candidates or high performers. Productivity is of the essence when it comes to working nine-to-five or flexible hours. However, distractions steer us from completing the task at hand. A simple distraction such as checking social media is one of the reasons employees miss deadlines.
According to research, employees spend about 44 minutes on various social media platforms every day. That’s already 44 minutes of wasted time they could’ve spent writing reports, developing websites, training team members, or whatnot.
Moreover, 82 percent of employees don’t have an effective time management system in place. This paves the way for more distractions and less productivity in the workplace. So if you want to know how to improve time management skills, here are seven tips and benefits.
Importance of Improving Time Management Skills
Improving your time management skills can lead to better work outcomes. Most employees don’t realize it. But time management is vital in preventing:
- Delayed projects, deadlines, and appointments
- A lack of focus
- Low-quality work
- Complicated workflow or work process
- Bad professional reputation
- Hindering work promotions
- Work penalties and deductions
- An imbalance between personal and professional aspects
That said, before we tell you how to improve time management skills, know the importance first. Here’s a rundown of time management skills benefits:
Some people take advantage of to-do lists, emails, or various time management techniques to get their day-to-day tasks done. However, if you don’t possess good time management skills, you’ll never be able to complete an entire to-do list.
One benefit of time management skills is knowing what tasks to prioritize. Determine what tasks are of high and low importance and work on the highly prioritized tasks first.
Develop a schedule
Having good time management skills means you’ll be able to analyze various tasks for the day and plan on completing them accordingly. For example, you can develop a schedule to achieve every task satisfactorily. Then, instead of jumping from one task to the next, you can set a timeframe and stick to it until all tasks are completed.
Minimal stress and anxiety
A Stress.org study claims that 80 percent of workers experience stress in the workplace. Half of these workers say that they need help to manage their stress. And one of the reasons why employees feel pressure on the job is too much workload.
If your tasks seem to pile up, there could be an underlying problem relating to task management. And this is where time management skills come in handy.
Procrastination is also another common doing in the workplace. Employees with no time management skills entertain more distractions than the more essential tasks. They promise to do tasks later and end up delaying other urgent tasks. The goal of time management is to work smarter, not harder. This means you must do as much high-quality work in less time.
Adhere to deadlines
The most apparent advantage of time management skills is adhering to deadlines. Workers will always prioritize high-value tasks and aim to finish them on time. Thus, staying on track of your deadlines makes employees’ lives easier. Moreover, this can be a solid ground for promotions or career opportunities.
If you control your schedule like the back of your hand, then it’ll be a breeze maintaining your personal and professional lives. However, if you want to know how to improve time management skills, you have to see the value of work-life balance. Otherwise, this will mean nothing to you, and you’ll never go the extra mile to achieve it.
Keeping your personal and professional lives separate could lead to better productivity, a quality way of life, and more time for leisure. When employees have more time for recreational activities, this always puts them in a better mental and emotional status to tackle the day’s work.
How to Improve Time Management Skills: 7-Step Guide
Knowing how to improve time management skills means you’re clearing up any hindrance that prevents career growth. It might sound challenging, but these seven steps are easy to do if you put your mind and heart into them. Here’s how to improve time management skills:
1. Create a list
Some people swear by to-do lists. While some people claim they don’t need it, to-do lists are game-changers. Before starting your workweek, jot down a more extensive to-do list for the entire week containing all the major tasks you need to do. Then jot down smaller to-do lists to map out your everyday tasks. This will give you an idea of how to improve time management skills without compromising any minor or major tasks or projects.
Additionally, prioritize work at the beginning of the workday by creating a schedule. Don’t spend too much time on things that are irrelevant to your career. These distractions will only hamper your personal and professional development.
Finally, prioritize the most important tasks to the less important ones once you have your to-do list. This way, you’re making certain other tasks won’t be affected because significant ones aren’t accomplished. Also, tick off every task list you’ve completed. This creates mental affirmation and satisfaction that you’ve accomplished something.
2. Set a goal
Task completion would mean nothing if you don’t have goals in mind. Remember that you’re working toward a common goal or purpose. That said, it’s critical to always know the “WHY” and connect it to the “WHAT.”
The WHY entails your goals for the day, week, month, or year. This could be divided into short-term or long-term goals. The most important thing is that you know which goals to prioritize and connect them to the WHAT. On the other hand, the WHAT entails all the tasks needed to accomplish the smaller and bigger goals.
Once you set goals, you’ll be able to center all your energy, efforts, and time around achieving your goals. Overall, this keeps you on track.
3. Avoid multitasking
Some employees think multitasking helps them complete their tasks faster and more efficiently. But this is further from the truth. Multitasking only lets you juggle from one task to another without completing a single one.
When you’re multitasking, you’re only giving half-hearted efforts on every task because you’re always in a hurry to move on to the next one. Determine how to improve time management skills by completing one task with satisfactory results and moving on to the next one. This way, you’ll give each task your much-needed effort and time.
4. Find your rhythm
People have different productive hours. For instance, some do more work in the morning and slow down significantly in the evening. On the flip side, some people are more alert and motivated in the evening and find themselves dozing off mainly in the morning.
According to research, our motivation and alertness are based on our bodies’ cycles. And this is where you can take advantage of maximizing your productivity. If you’re still trying to figure this out, use a tracker and determine which hours of the day you put in more work.
5. Don’t fall prey to distractions
One culprit of missing deadlines is opening yourself up to distractions. When it’s time to work, make sure you close all tabs that aren’t work-related or use software that blocks this on your computer.
Also, keep your phone away or keep it on silent mode when you’re doing a critical task. Once you’re distracted for a few minutes, it can be hard to find that focus again where you left off. Use a time tracker if you have to to ensure that you’re not wasting away your time on non-essential work activities.
6. Take multiple breaks
An Inc. article states people are more productive when they take more quick breaks instead of working straight for a couple of hours. Take multiple short breaks to reinvigorate your mind and keep you focused.
For example, if you feel you’re overly fatigued, stretch for five to 10 minutes. Or take a walk outside for 15. Better yet, go to the restroom for five minutes. Whatever you do, make sure your quick breaks don’t involve work. This way, you can get back to work for another productive hour refreshed and motivated.
7. Use time management techniques
You might feel like you won’t need the help of time management techniques. However, it doesn’t hurt to try at least one of these if you want to know how to improve time management skills. These techniques guide you on becoming better at scheduling, delegating, eliminating, planning, and accomplishing tasks.
Here are some of the best time management techniques and how to do each one:
- Pareto Analysis
- Pomodoro Technique
- Eisenhower Matrix
- Parkinson’s Law
- Time Blocking Method
- Getting Things Done (GTD) Method
- Rapid Planning Method (RPM)
- Pickle Jar Theory
- Eat That Frog Technique
Boost your work productivity by knowing how to improve time management skills. Once you have a pattern or cycle you can use every day, it’ll be a walk in the park tackling every task. Do these seven steps, and you’ll instantly see the benefit and change in every workday.