What Are Time Management Skills?
A List and Examples of Effective Workplace Management Skills
What are time management skills and why are they important to employers? Time management means working efficiently, and employers in every industry look for staff who can make optimal use of the time available to them on the job. Saving time saves the organization money and increases revenue.
Employees who manage their time well are more productive, more efficient, and more likely to meet deadlines. They focus on the most important and time-sensitive tasks and limit the amount of time wasted on non-essential duties.
Effective time management requires staff to analyze their workload, assign priorities, and maintain focus on productive endeavors. Employees who are excellent time managers can eliminate distractions and enlist support from colleagues to help accomplish their goals.
During a Job Interview
Time management skills, like other soft skills, are in demand. Interviewers will be asking questions to assess your ability to manage your time, and the time of your team if you’re in a supervisory role.
Review these time management interview questions prior to your job interviews, so you’re prepared to respond with specific examples of how you effectively manage your workload.
It is usually impossible to do every single that you need and want to do all at once, but if you prioritize well, you should be able to complete the most important tasks in an order that makes sense. When assigning priority, consider such factors as when each task needs to be done, how long it might take, how important it might be to others in the organization, what could happen if a task is not done, and whether any task might be interrupted by the need to wait for someone else.
Scheduling is important, and not only because some tasks have to be done at specific times. Scheduling affects your day, your week, your month, as well as other people, their projects, and their short and long-term plans for projects and tasks. Most people also have specific times of the day when they are more and less energetic and become more productive when they schedule themselves accordingly. Schedules can be a good way to avoid procrastination, too.
Keeping a To-Do List
To-do lists (properly prioritized and integrated with your schedule) are a great way to avoid forgetting something important. They are also a great way to avoid spending all day thinking about everything you have to do. Remembering tasks takes energy, and thinking about everything you have to do all week can be exhausting and overwhelming. Split all the necessary tasks up into a list for each day, and you won’t have to worry about any of it anymore. Just look at today’s list.
Resting, even though it may seem contradictory, is an important time-management skill. Although working long hours or skipping breaks can sometimes improve productivity in the short-term, your exhaustion later will ensure that your average productivity actually drops. Except for rare emergencies, it is important to resist the temptation to over-work. Include necessary breaks, and a sensible quitting time, in your schedule.
Depending on what type of work you do, you may be able to delegate some tasks. Knowing what to delegate and when is a skill. Some people resist delegating, either because they want to maintain control or because they want to save money by not hiring assistants. Both approaches ultimately hurt productivity and raise costs.
Remember, however, that if you practice time management diligently and still can’t get everything done, you may be trying to do too much. It is better to succeed at a few tasks than to attempt and then fail at many.
Examples in the Workplace
A - E
- Adapting plans to changing circumstances
- Allocating time for specific tasks
- Analyzing processes and selecting the simplest way to accomplish a task
- Asking for help when overwhelmed with demands
- Assertiveness to say no to inappropriate demands that distract from central duties
- Attacking more complex tasks when you have the highest energy and sharpest concentrations
- Auditing how time is spent
- Avoiding excessive small talk with co-workers
- Avoiding procrastination; acting instead of worrying
- Breaking broader goals into smaller parts and focusing on one step at a time
- Breaking up projects into manageable parts
- Creating daily, weekly and monthly “to do” lists
- Creating schedules
- Delegating more routine tasks to lower level staff
- Eating well to maintain energy
- Eliminating time wasters
- Exercising and participating in other stress-reducing activities during leisure time to maximize energy when at work
F - Z
- Facilitating efficient meetings; sticking with time frames for meetings
- Grouping similar tasks together to limit transition time
- Maintaining an organized work area
- Multitasking; shifting smoothly from one task to another
- Openness to more efficient ways of doing things
- Organizing digital files for easy retrieval
- Planning your day the night before or first thing in the morning
- Prioritizing requests and demands
- Prioritizing a list of projects and focusing on higher value tasks with more immediate deadlines
- Putting cell phones aside to eliminate the distraction of personal messages unless required for work
- Reviewing performance and eliminating deviations from priorities
- Setting daily, weekly and monthly goals
- Setting realistic standards for quality and avoiding perfectionism
- Setting specific times for responding to email
- Taking short breaks to restore energy
- Touching each piece of paper or reading each email just once, whenever feasible