15 Ways to Improve Time Management Skills
In a rapidly changing world, including how we work, the flow of time is one thing that remains constant despite one's occupation, dreams, or societal status. Whether you are a financial executive in Wall Street or a band member in New Orleans, we all have 24-hours in a day.
Given the unchanging nature of time, it is crucial to allocate your time well to achieve your life or career goals. As famously said by Benjamin Franklin, “Time is money.” If you look at the bigger picture, we all have a finite amount of time to accomplish something, and this is why time management skills are vital.
Considering the importance of time management skills in life, there are several ways to improve your skills through mentorship, leadership coaching, and executive coaching programs.
Ways to Improve Time Management Skills
With the help of strategies from these programs, you can improve your time management skills in the following ways:
1. Establish A Baseline of Your Time Management Skills
A baseline of your time management skills is crucial to know your strengths and weaknesses.
Time audits are a tried-and-tested way to keep track of what you do every day of the week.
While they come in many formats, every time audit can be broken into the following steps:
- Figure out how to record every activity that you do throughout the day
- Determine which activities are worth recording
- Analyze your activity track record to figure out what you spend your time on
- Categorize your activities based on their importance
This baseline will inform your learning strategies and guide your skill-building path.
You can establish a skill baseline through numerous objective tests such as microsimulations or asking for feedback from trusted parties like your boss, friends, peers, or mentor.
2. Build Self-Awareness About Your Preferences and Personality
Humans are complex and nuanced creatures, so it is impossible to have a one-fit-all time management strategy.
The best time management strategy for you is directly linked to your preferences and personality.
Having a keen sense of these traits will deepen your understanding of what needs to change to extract the most out of your day.
3. Study The Areas You Need to Improve
To make changes in how you manage your time, you first need to know what areas need change.
Adopt an evidence-based approach to identifying the most critical areas that need change, then work from there.
You can identify the most crucial areas that need improvement by logging how you spend your day. With this record of your daily activities, you can quickly identify what parts of your day take a disproportionate amount of your time and work to improve them.
4. Identify Your Peak Performance Time
Your peak performance time is a short window of time typically ranging a few hours where you are at your peak physical and mental performance.
Using this time to perform the most demanding tasks will significantly cut down the time needed to complete said tasks and thus improve your time management.
5. Budget your time
Treating your time like money is an easy way to improve your time management skills.
To get the best out of your day, you must budget your time the same way you budget your money.
Have different categories for tasks and activities and prioritize your time according to need.
6. Consider How Present Events Will Affect Your Future Schedule
Having a future perspective is crucial to time management since what you do now affects the future.
For instance, failing to prepare for a meeting scheduled for next week will affect next week's activities.
To get the most out of your time, you must consider future events before embarking on present tasks.
7. Develop work-organization skills
Work-organization skills let you structure your work around your life. These skills give you better control of how you manage your time based on task difficulty and duration.
For instance, unfamiliar tasks with a steep learning curve have unique scheduling demands, so you must restructure your day to make more time to perform such tasks.
8. Prioritize Important Tasks
With time management, it is not enough to list tasks; you must categorize them by importance and apportion time accordingly.
Prioritize important tasks to avoid emergencies which could take additional time.
9. Take Advantage of Time-Management Apps
We live in the golden age of technology, where there are apps for almost every task imaginable.
Time-management apps let you stay on top of events and tasks in simple and intuitive ways. Seamless time tracking also enables you to build unique insight into how the day unfolds.
With this knowledge, you can optimize your productivity and develop a healthier workflow.
10. Protect Time Meant for Important Projects
Important projects typically require uninterrupted time as any distractions will lead to delays or sloppy work, which requires lengthy rework.
With this in mind, it is crucial to protect the time meant for such projects.
You can protect your time using the following methods:
- Block out distractions such as social media
- Find an accountability partner
- Track your time
- Find a workplace free from noise or distractions
- Learn to say no
11. Try to eliminate underestimation errors
Underestimation errors are often worse than overestimation errors because it causes a cascading effect where tasks take longer than intended and take up time meant for others.
For this reason, you must avoid underestimation errors by adjusting your schedule to match pre-planned tasks.
12. Be Adaptable
In life, schedules are rarely fixed, and it is inevitable that you will face high-pressure situations that will test your time management skills.
Adaptability will let you handle such unpredictable events without losing your composure.
13. Break Down Tasks to Avoid Procrastination
Long-term tasks that require significant effort can become overwhelming. To get around this, you can break down major tasks into sizable tasks that require short bursts of action.
All this will go a long way in making tasks appear doable and, in the process, help you avoid procrastination.
14. Develop contingency plans
Contingency plans are necessary for when things don't go according to plan. With the proper contingency plans, you can swiftly adapt your time management strategy to match worst-case scenarios.
You can develop a time management contingency plan by identifying risks, prioritizing risks, identifying and gathering resources to deal with the risks, and share your plan with team members.
15. Eliminate Time Wasters
The last point on this list is perhaps the most obvious. It would be best if you eliminate time-wasters to have the best time management skills.
Time wasters include things like:
- Non-work-related social media activity
- Office gossip
- Unnecessary meetings
- Email overload
- Communication overload