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Time Management Skills and Ways to Improve it

Time management skills help you manage your time well. Some of the most important time management skills include:

1. Organization

Staying organized can help you maintain a clear picture of what you need to complete and when. Being well-organized might mean maintaining an up-to-date calendar, being able to locate certain documents easily, having a tidy environment and taking detailed, diligent notes.

2. Prioritization

Assessing each of your responsibilities for priority is key in being a good time manager. There are many ways to prioritize what you need to accomplish. You might decide to complete fast, simple items followed by longer, more involved ones. Alternatively, you might prioritize your tasks starting with the most time-sensitive, or a combination of both.

3. Goal-setting

Setting goals is the first step to becoming a good time manager. Goal-setting allows you to clearly understand your end goal and what exactly you need to prioritize to accomplish it. Setting both short and long-term goals can lead to success in your career.

4. Communication

Developing strong communication skills can allow you to make your plans and goals clear to supervisors and colleagues. It can also allow you to ask questions when necessary, and communicate challenges in a timely manner so that everyone stays on track.

5. Planning

A fundamental part of time management is planning. Being efficient in planning out your day, meetings and how you will accomplish things will help you stick to your schedule.

6. Delegation

While delegation is most often done by managers, you can also practice delegating tasks if you are managing a project. While it can often be difficult to say “no” when someone asks you to do something at work, it's important to practice having boundaries to manage your time well and ultimately accomplish your goals.

7. Stress management

When practicing good time management, you should also be attentive to your mental health. Handling stress in a positive way can help you stay motivated and perform well when going through your schedule. You might do this by including small breaks throughout your day, or by rewarding yourself in small ways as you accomplish tasks.

8. Problem-solving

Strong problem-solving skills will help you overcome challenges and keep projects moving forward and on schedule. Problem-solving will also help team members to stay on the same page with each other.

9. Note-taking

Taking notes and keeping documents up to date are important when managing time and tasks. Following outdated guidelines, for instance, could slow you down or cause you to have to redo some of your work.

How to improve time management skills

Working on your time management skills can help you become a better employee and a strong candidate when you apply for new opportunities. Here are a few ways you can improve your time management skills:

1. Set short and long-term goals

Practicing regular goal-setting can help you clearly understand exactly what you need to accomplish to achieve certain results. To hit larger, long-term goals, identify smaller milestone goals along the way. For example, if you have a goal to be promoted within six months, you might need to set smaller goals to improve certain skills. Your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. For more on setting goals, visit SMART Goals: Definition and Examples.

2. Manage your calendar

Setting time aside to complete the most important tasks on your list is important for managing your time. You might consider blocking off certain brackets of time on your calendar on a regular basis so you are guaranteed to have time in your schedule without distractions or meetings. You should also consider whether or not attending certain meetings is beneficial. If you feel you will not add value or contribute in any certain way, you should feel empowered to decline certain meetings. If you do this, use discretion and be polite–you might consider sending the meeting owner an email letting them know why you have declined.

3. Prioritize your assignments

Prioritization is a difficult skill but gets easier with practice. You can practice prioritization by making to-do lists. Writing or typing out everything you need to get done can help you physically prioritize the tasks that are most urgent or easy to get out of the way. If you need help, you might consider asking your manager or a colleague who is good at prioritizing how they would complete work. Understanding due dates and how the task affects others and business goals can help you to get certain things done ahead of others. If you are still unable to meet the due date, you might be able to ask for a deadline extension on a task.

Improving time management skills can help you be a better worker and have the ability to focus fully as you go about your day. You can be a better time manager by being organized, setting goals and prioritizing your to-do list.

4. Say "yes" to occasionally saying "no"

One way to manage your time is to learn that it's okay to say no to some requests at work. If you're trying to meet a tight deadline, for example, it might be impossible to complete your work on time if you agree to take on work that isn't a priority. Colleagues will understand if you can't help out on a project if you have a tight deadline to meet.

5. Don't procrastinate

There's a difference between prioritizing and procrastinating. When you organize your tasks in order of importance, just make sure that nothing drops off the list completely. It's okay to schedule less important tasks for another day. Procrastination takes place when those tasks are constantly pushed off the day's schedule.

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