Time Management | The 10 Essential Soft Skills | Bookbyte

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The 10 Essential Soft Skills List: 9 – Time Management

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Most professionals all have the same 8-10 hours in a day to devote to their work. Still, some manage to be far more productive than others. What separates them from the rest? Is it their work ethic or something else? To reach your full potential, you‘ll need to learn how to optimize your workday for success by honing your time management skills. 

What is Time Management?

Time management seems pretty straight forward, and it is, but mastering it isn’t. There are many pieces to it; some even seem counterintuitive, for instance, spending time planning how to maximize your time. Time management can be defined as the process of planning and organizing your time around your tasks and their importance. 

Why is Time Management so important?

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Remember that time is money.” Words that hold true, especially at your job. Wasted time is wasted money to your employer. Highly productive employees maximize the company dime and bend their workday to their will. How you manage your time to reach company goals largely impacts your success and raises the bar for the rest of the company.

What are Time Management skills?

Prioritization

Not all things can get done in one workday (or a week, or month). Weighing and deciding what does get done, and what has the biggest impact, is where prioritization comes in. Learning how to balance your responsibilities and contribute to new projects and random tasks is no easy feat.

Organization

Organizational skills are the ability to maintain structure and harmony in your work—and yourself—to increase engagement and productivity. Using a file system and naming convention to decluttering your workspace to keeping your calendar accurate and up to date to planning your work for the day are all examples of organization in effect. 

Multi-tasking

Multitasking involves being able to shift some of your focus from one task to another—usually in tandem—to achieve more during your workday (or to take care of urgent tasks).  

Planning & Task Management

Planning and keeping a good record of your current and upcoming work is a great way to stay organized and prepared. Keeping it all in one place is the challenge. 

Pacing Yourself & Stress Management

Hard work and multitasking are great for productivity, but they can also be detrimental to your mental health. If you don’t fit in small breaks throughout your workday—even if it’s just to get up and stretch your legs for a few minutes—you will fast track yourself to burnout. Taking a small break to leave your workstation gives your mind a much-needed pause, gets your blood flowing a little bit, and helps you to return to your desk with fresh eyes, ready to work. 

How you can improve your time management skills.

To-do Lists

If you don’t already, start making daily/weekly to-do lists—either with good ole fashioned pen & paper or a modern digital task management tool like Monday. First thing, each day, write down all your tasks/responsibilities and add new ones as they come up. Keep it all in the same list or notepad if you will. Not only are you creating a good reference for your pending work, but you’re also ensuring you don’t let anything slip through the cracks. Forgive the emphasis but it’s important to make sure to write down any new tasks as they come up—don’t wait until later to do it! Finally, each time you finish a task, it gets checked off your list as completed, not forgotten (which feels amazing!). 

Practice Prioritization

Prioritization may take a little getting used to initially. It’s essentially taking your to-do list and arranging the to-dos in an order that is most productive for you and most beneficial for your company. There are many factors to consider with each task so it’s not always so cut-and-dry of a process. If you have trouble with prioritization, consider using a priority matrix template which categorizes work by urgency and importance using four quadrants. 

A priority matrix created by ConceptBoard.com
A priority matrix example created by ConceptBoard.com

Set goals

By setting goals, you are giving yourself something to measure, plan for, and work towards. Just make sure to keep your goals realistic and obtainable. Consider breaking bigger goals down into smaller ones to keep from being discouraged.  Planning these goals overtime will begin to get easier as you build experience with gauging time and effort.

Limit your multitasking & use block scheduling for complex tasks/projects 

Although multitasking is a great way to increase productivity, in many cases, it can actually hamper your effectiveness. This really comes down to the type of tasks or projects that are competing for your attention. If you’re working through smaller, less important tasks, then multitasking is probably okay—especially if you have an urgent task to get done. But, there are times where you have a big project that involves deep concentration where multitasking would be disruptive. Consider planning ahead and blocking out time in your day to keep your head down working on these bigger projects with 100% focus. 

Conclusion

With practice, good time management can become second nature. It’s important to understand—and stress—that each morning should start with planning your workday. And, each day should end with 5-15 minutes spent organizing your work, & and workspace for the next day. Set yourself up for success and start practicing good time management now. A good steward of work and time lives a purposed and accomplished life.

Courses you can take

LinkedIn Learning | Time Management Fundamentals

Estimate time to complete: 2h 53m

Coursera | Work Smarter, Not Harder: Time Management for Personal & Professional Productivity

Estimated time to complete: 4 hours