Anyone would benefit from improving their time management skills - it definitely beats working under pressure anytime. After all, if you don't master your time, then opportunities, efficiency, and work-life balance might slip through your fingers!
Nonetheless, time management is easier said than done. As with most soft skills, it takes a lot of practice to get good at.
That said, there are ways to improve your time management skills, and in this article, we’ll teach you just what they are!
Let’s get started.
7 Best Tips to Improve Your Time Management Skills
#1. Determine Your Priorities
In your day-to-day activities, some tasks are more important than others. For example, a task might have a closer deadline than the rest, or the case might be that you need to finish task A before you can effectively complete task B.
The same can be said about achieving your long-term goals, whether it is a promotion or investing more time in a hobby.
Determining what your priorities are is the first step towards effective time management. Whether you're an employee or in high-level management, you should have a clear picture of your top priorities. After all, how can you set out to accomplish your goals until you identify them clearly?
One effective method to prioritize your daily tasks is the Eisenhower Matrix, which allows you to categorize and separate your most critical tasks from those that you can delegate or eliminate entirely.
The method is named after Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States, who was widely recognized for his efficiency and discipline.
Here is what your methodical planning using the Eisenhower Matrix could look like:
#2. Avoid Multitasking
While many people praise their ability to multitask, there are just as many reasons to believe it can actually get in the way of improving your time management skills.
A 2011 research study from the University of California, for instance, found that multitasking can negatively affect your working memory and ability to focus on important tasks. This, of course, isn’t great for time management.
What’s more important, multitasking may just be overrated. What makes it true is the fact that, in reality, you never truly multitask. The various tasks you grapple with can be accomplished to some extent, but none will be to the best of your abilities.
It is essential to learn how to devote your whole attention to the task at hand if you want to improve your time management skills. Your productivity can only improve if you master sustained focus and effort.
#3. Avoid Distractions
Our daily lives are definitely fast-paced and full of distractions and, more often than not, that gets in the way of improving time management skills. If you’re working from home, for instance, it might be hard to concentrate on work due to having more distractions than in the office and, before you know it, you’ll have lost hours of your time.
Great ways to avoid distractions include putting your phone aside or turning off the notifications, having an office space even if you’re working from home, and asking family members or colleagues not to disturb you with non-work-related matters.
#4. Learn to Say No
Many people will take on as many responsibilities either to make a good impression and showcase their dedication to work or because they just can’t say no. Yet, an overwhelming amount of tasks can set a toll on your work efficiency and mindset.
Setting a limit on how much workload you're willing to accept can help you manage your time and concentrate on the most important tasks. In turn, you’ll be able to focus and be more productive in the most pressing tasks.
Start by determining how much work is ideal for you and then be sure and confident to decline any offered workload that goes beyond it. If you feel bad about not being able to help, just explain to whoever asked that you don’t have the time to do the quality work they expect or that you have other, more important deadlines to meet.
#5. Use Time Management Apps
It’s all too easy to get overwhelmed with never-ending daily reminders of scheduled tasks and meetings, and constantly trying to catch up can take a toll on your workflow.
Fortunately, technology has come a long way to help us in that regard.
By using time management apps, you can easily organize everything in one space and track your time for different tasks.
Time management apps like Rescuetime can significantly boost your efficiency. The app allows you to use a Focus Session mode whenever you truly need to focus, preventing main distractions and tracking how effectively you work.
Similarly, time tracking apps like Toggl Track can show you how much time you actually spend on any given task.
#6. Organize Your Day
A goal is nothing more than a wish without a solid plan to support it in place. And, without proper day-to-day organization, improving your time management skills can turn into a daunting task.
However, if you organize your day, prioritize your tasks, and measure your progress, you will know precisely where you stand as you work toward your bigger goals.
Now, there are several effective ways to organize your day and get immediate results. For example, work-wise, you can start writing daily to-do lists, taking into account any interruptions that may come up, or dedicating less time to repeating tasks.
#7. Take Breaks
Although you might feel tempted to complete large amounts of work before taking a break, this strategy could seriously harm your mental health.
For starters, skipping frequent, short breaks might result in fast burnout and overwhelming stress. One study found that employees even tend to compromise their lunch breaks, choosing to work instead. This, in turn, has been shown to have badly impacted their mental health.
Stepping away from your work for a few minutes every couple of hours can help you achieve more with greater comfort and enjoyment, boosting your overall efficiency.
3 Benefits of Improving Your Time Management Skills
Taking steps to improve your time management skills has numerous advantages. More than being efficient at work, effective time management can help you significantly reduce stress and improve your work-life balance.
Here are the top 3 benefits that come with improving time management skills:
#1. Reduced Anxiety
A recent study found that poor time management not only hurts productivity but also your well-being.
Come to think of it, time is your most valuable asset. We all understand this, which is why it is critical to manage your time effectively and leave enough space for leisure activities, hobbies, and private life. Otherwise, you risk harming your mental health and putting yourself through more stress than you can handle.
Because we all need enough time for leisure activities, reconsider all elements of your daily life and design a strategy that will provide you with maximum benefits in the shortest possible amount of time.
By improving your time management skills, more and more spare time will appear for you to spend as you please.
#2. Enhanced Work-Life Balance
Too much work and too much leisure can both hurt your overall well-being. That’s why striking a balance that can help you get the most out of each without overdoing it is one of the biggest benefits of improving your time management skills.
According to the organizational psychologist Dr. Deirdre Anderson, an important aspect of taking care of your well-being is devoting time to all different aspects of your life.
Good time management is one of the most effective ways for you to find the perfect harmony between your personal life and work life.
#3. Achieving Your Goals
If you're used to procrastinating, you probably struggle with organizing your day and you constantly postpone your deadlines and goals. This not only consumes all of your time but may also keep you from achieving your dreams.
According to researcher Piers Steel, 95% of people procrastinate at least to some degree. While knowing you're not alone can be comforting, it's also sad to discover how much procrastination can hold you back.
Start by following these simple strategies to overcome your procrastination habits:
- Practice self-forgiveness: For starters, don’t beat yourself up too hard. Self-forgiveness can help you feel better about yourself. In fact, it lowers the likelihood of future procrastination.
- Reward yourself: If you manage to complete your tasks on time, treat yourself to a nice meal at a restaurant or something similar.
- Turn off your phone: This one may sound redundant, yet if you delve deeper and look at the University of Chicago's study on cellphones, which shows that even the mere presence of a wireless device badly impacts our cognitive capacity, you might want to reconsider.
So, it’s only natural that improving your time management skills can help you stop procrastinating and take you a step closer to your goals.
Looking to improve more than just your time management skills? Communication is just as important, so check out this guide to find out about how to make your communication skills stand out.
2 Types of Time-Management Skills
Developing solid time management skills is essential for controlling your time during a day and ensuring that it is used as efficiently as possible.
To practice effective time management, there are primary and secondary skills you should work on:
- Day-to-day organizing, task prioritizing, and planning ahead are primary time management skills essential for using your time wisely. You should be able to assign levels of importance to different tasks, devise solid plans for their accomplishment, and stick to the strict schedules you set for yourself.
- Seemingly unrelated parts of your life, such as regular exercise, eating healthy and getting enough sleep, directly impact your overall efficiency and hence your ability to manage your time. These can be called secondary time management skills.
So, before you delve deep into your next task with maximum concentration and your phone away, take 20 minutes to cycle around that lovely neighborhood of yours!
Now that we've covered all the tips and tricks to effectively managing your time, let's do a quick recap:
- Effective time management helps you organize your daily activities around your priorities. So, before you start working on improving your time management skills, take some time to identify your key and secondary priorities.
- When you're clear on what is most important to you, you can start discovering your preferred method for organizing your time. One effective method you could use is the Eisenhower Matrix.
- A variety of time management software exists to help you out in organizing tasks and tracking your overall productivity. Two very helpful tools are Rescuetime and Toggle Track.
- To make the best use of your time, you should focus on both core and secondary skills that we've discussed (including your overall health and stress levels).
- When you master effective time management, you shall enjoy more time for yourself, reduced stress, enhanced work-life balance, and more stamina to start achieving your dreams!