10 Effective Time Management Skills and Their Benefits

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 30 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Managing your time well can improve your career. Organising each day helps you to complete work on time, stay engaged during important meetings and give you space to be creative and proactive in your tasks. Having strong time management skills can ultimately lead to accomplishing key goals and advancing in your position. In this article, we discuss ten elements of time management skills and how you can develop those skills and use them to increase your productivity and performance at work.

What are effective time management skills?

Effective time management skills are skills that you develop and employ to make sure that you're using the time you have to accomplish the most important work. Allocating necessary amounts of time to specific activities can help you organise the tasks that you can complete and make plans for the progress you can make in a given time. By managing your time, you can accomplish more even when working against deadlines.

Many work to develop their time management skills to increase their productivity at work. You can use them to complete tasks in a shorter amount of time, to increase the quality of your work and decrease your work pressure.

What are the ten key elements of time management?

Here are ten elements of time management that you can focus on to increase your productivity at work:

1. Planning

The first step in managing your time is understanding what you need to do and how much time you have to do it. Once you understand your tasks, you can construct a plan for how to accomplish those tasks. If there are certain meetings or appointments at specific times, you can plan around those times to prepare and accomplish your tasks around your obligations. There is no guarantee that you can follow every element of your plan, but visualising your tasks can give you a guide to measure your productivity against.

2. Clarity

To save time during your work, you can establish clarity about what your manager expects of you. Understanding your instructions and the deadlines allows you to focus on completing the task instead of using time trying to determine the nuances of your task. Asking questions directly to your superiors or clients saves you from worrying about unclear directions, or redoing any work that you completed incorrectly because of miscommunication. To save time and ensure that you are productive, establish clarity about what your responsibilities are and how you can complete them most efficiently.

3. Organisation

Organising your workspace and collecting the resources you need for the task before you start working can prevent you from using your time to find these resources or materials later. Organising your workplace or your digital files improves the usability of your space. You can easily reach or access anything you need, and you know where it is because you have taken the time to create an organisational system you can understand.

Read more: Organisational Skills: Definition, How To Use and Examples

4. Prioritizations

Prioritising tasks can help you create a smart plan to work through your tasks, without having to multitask or rush. Some tasks have closer deadlines than others, and some tasks have a larger impact on your work than others. Understanding what tasks are more urgent than others can help you establish what order you can complete your tasks so that you can stay on top of your work, even if you haven't completed every task that is your responsibility.

For example, if you have two tasks to complete, and the first is reorganising the office supply closet while the second is invoicing a customer before the end of the financial quarter, you may prioritise the task with a deadline. Both tasks need to be completed, but at the end of the quarter, you don't have to stress about completing both tasks at once because you have prioritised the task with a deadline.

5. Boundaries

You have a finite amount of time to dedicate to any task, so managing your time efficiently also includes setting boundaries around what you can feasibly complete. By planning your time and organising your tasks by priority, you can create a guide to move through as many tasks as you want to take on. However, you can also exercise your ability to say no to tasks that overcomplicate your plan, or that you can't reasonably complete in the timeframe given. Taking on more tasks than you can complete may add stress to your workload and may not improve your performance.

You can set boundaries with your clients and coworkers, and you can set boundaries with yourself to ensure that you are taking care of yourself. You can set boundaries by saying no to tasks that you can't take on. You can also set scheduled rest times. This can help you maintain your energy long term, and it can help you maintain a healthy work-life balance. These boundaries can make you productive in the long term because they help prevent burnout or a lack of attention to detail.

Related: A Guide to Work-Life Balance: Definition and Ways To Improve

6. Delegation

Effective time management includes understanding what you can complete and what tasks you can delegate to someone else. You can give tasks to people with more expertise or who have more time to devote to the task, ensuring its quality. This spreads out the work on a single project over multiple people, speeding up the process. Someone else may be better or faster at completing a specific task than you are, so they can finish the task more quickly. Learning to ask for help can help save you time and increase your productivity while also maintaining the quality of your work.

7. Automation

Automation is an element of time management that has increased with the constant invention of new technology and software. Automating a task means setting up instructions within a program that are triggered by your command to set off multiple tasks at once. Using an automated system, you can quickly complete tasks that used to take hours and require extensive attention to detail.

For example, customer management systems can schedule pre-written messages that are sent to each customer without an employee reaching out to them directly. This automation can build a relationship with a customer without employees having to track their progress, find contact information and manually draft messages. Employees can spend that time reaching out to new leads and doing research. Automation creates more opportunities and makes work more efficient.

Related: What Is a Customer Relationship Manager? And Other FAQs

8. Stress management

Managing stress can help you stay focused on the tasks you have to complete. Getting stressed out can add additional tasks to your list of responsibilities, overwhelming you. Stress can prevent you from completing your work. Planning out your tasks and the time you have to complete them can help you visualise what you have to do, and prevent you from feeling stressed. By managing your time effectively, you can ease your stress.

9. Problem-solving

Problem-solving on your own can be a valuable skill to learn when managing your time. Problem-solving allows you to overcome obstacles that arise so you can move forward towards completing the project. You can work on analysing issues and establishing solutions for frequent problems so you can move through challenges without having to wait for solutions to come from other parties.

10. Focus

You can have more success completing your tasks on time if you can focus on one task at a time. Multi-tasking and procrastination are common problems that prevent people from effectively managing their time. If you can commit to a single task and work through it until it's complete, it may take less time than trying to switch back and forth between tasks. Multi-tasking can require re-shifting your resources and mental energy quickly, which can distract you and require more time. Focus on one task at a time, and put in place systems that help you avoid procrastination or distraction.

How to develop time management skills

Time management is a soft skill that you can use to increase your level of productivity. Soft skills are skills that are not specific to one job or task, but that you can use in a variety of circumstances. You may not be able to measure your soft skills, but you can work to develop them. Here are some steps you can take to develop your time management soft skills:

  1. Use a schedule: Writing your schedule can help you stay on top of the plan you create for yourself. Digital schedules can send you reminders and provide extra tools to help you stay on task.

  2. Learn your patterns: Develop an understanding of what environment and patterns allow you to work best. You can use these patterns to your advantage to create the most productive space and schedule for your individual preferences.

  3. Keep yourself accountable: You are responsible for managing your time and completing your tasks, so keep yourself accountable for the work you do. Consider implementing a reward system for every task completed.

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