10 Critical Time Management Skills Your Team Needs

CoachHub · 11 October 2022 · 6 min read

People have a complicated relationship with time. It’s on their side. It isn’t on their side. That’s true in business, too. Investing time wisely may mean speeding up for productivity or slowing down for strategic thinking. Its shifting nature makes good time management skills essential.

What are time management skills?

Time management skills enable people to adjust seamlessly to the rhythms of the business. Time management skills examples can be put into categories that include prioritization, setting boundaries, eliminating procrastination, understanding the needs of others and more. The trick is to adopt what works best and stick with it.

time management

10 examples of time management skills worth exploring

1. Embrace ruthless prioritization

Not all work is created equal. When there is more than one task at hand, the soft skills to prioritize important tasks based on business needs is crucial. That can be tough for people who prefer to finish one project before starting on another. It can also be a stretch for those who feel they lack autonomy. Companies that explain what’s needed and why, then get out of the way to allow people to get it done, tend to produce employees who control their time and prioritize effectively.

2. Adopt a tool that can help

Time management skills aren’t innate for everyone. Task management tools such as the Eisenhower Matrix are a godsend for people who aren’t good at time management. They help project managers and staff sort tasks according to urgency and offer strategies for dealing with each task properly. The Eisenhower Matrix uses an urgency/importance quadrant approach: do first, schedule, delegate and don’t do. The app also features timers, email triggers, open task identifiers and cloud sync options for multiple devices. For those not technically inclined, diligent use of a personalized to-do list can ensure urgent tasks are completed, while keeping procrastination and stress at bay.

3. Know when good enough is good enough

The phrase “perfect is the enemy of the good” is still around for a reason. Perfectionism can lead to low productivity, missed deadlines, micromanagement, lack of innovation, time lost to stress-related health issues and a host of other unwanted outcomes. When people’s lives depend on accuracy, that’s one thing. When a marketing campaign lacks a few assets, that’s another. Consider it a red flag when people mention perfectionism as a skill on resumes, cover letters or job interviews. What hiring managers are really looking for is someone who knows when precision is necessary, and when it isn’t.

4. See the big picture

Choosing what to focus on is easier when you understand what the company is aiming for. Public companies that report earnings quarterly understand the impact that has on their business. They structure their sales and investor relations processes accordingly. The sales team may become obsessed with closing deals by a certain date. The accounting team’s focus may shift entirely a few weeks before the analyst call. The C-suite may limit travel. This principle applies to every aspect of the business. It’s important that people know how their role contributes to the company’s immediate and long-term success so they can adjust where they invest their time.

5. Be confident enough to ask for help

People are hard-wired to protect themselves from looking foolish, especially in front of those responsible for their paycheck. That fear may be good for mental self-preservation, but it can slow progress. Companies that encourage teamwork, embrace a fail-fast mindset and value personal development fare better than those that don’t. When people know they can reach out without getting ridiculed, they will. When they’re comfortable trying new ways to get things done, they will. When they’re encouraged to learn something new, they will. And where there’s a will, there’s a way.

6. Honor the need to concentrate

In spite of research that points to the negative consequences of open floorplans, they remain all the rage in many offices. Bosses like them because they lend themselves to a romantic notion of collaboration (though not actual collaboration), and because they make it easier to see what everyone’s doing. Similarly, email and other online tools enable instant communication. By their very nature, though, they assume that the needs of the person knocking on the door are more important than whatever you’re doing. The research is clear. Interruptions increase stress, lower productivity, break people’s concentration at critical moments and make it difficult to meet deadlines. If you have an office, take advantage of the door. If not, stay focused by putting on headphones or retiring to a private space. People will interrupt only as often as you let them.

7. Create space for a breather

It’s okay to take a break from time to time. It’s also necessary. Unlike the interruptions we just talked about, self-determined breaks are reinvigorating. When deadlines loom, inserting moments to think, destress or connect with coworkers at different times of day can refocus the mind. Even jumping spiders see their performance decline when they focus too long on a single task. Excessive workloads are the #2 cause of employee stress, according the American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2021 Work and Well-being Survey. Learning to push back respectfully when the work gets out of hand can go a long way toward a more satisfying and fruitful day.

8. Don’t be a slave to meetings

The amount of time spent on meetings is a big one, isn’t it? When you can buy a coffee mug that states, “I survived another meeting that should have been an email,” you know it’s an issue. People asking for a meeting should be clear about its purpose. Those invited have a right to decline when they’re not. Meeting organizers should also have an agenda to alert people to anything that needs to be done beforehand and stay on track. Above all, be respectful. There’s no excuse for double-and triple-booking people’s calendars. They may deem your meeting the most important and attend no matter how annoyed they are. They also might not, and you miss out on valuable input. As for those on the receiving end, calendar management is essential to maintaining control of your time. Don’t feel guilty about blocking your calendar to get things done.

9. Align work with natural energy flows

Some people are ready to take on the world first thing in the morning. For them, activities that require mental heavy lifting are best done in the early hours. Others aren’t ready to tackle complex projects until later in the day and are better served by answering emails, getting organized or working on low-level tasks. Not all work lends itself to this level of self-determination. When it does, take advantage of it. Be mindful of others, too. Collaboration is most effective when everyone’s operating at peak performance.

10. Set clear work/life boundaries

The pandemic opened the door to a more fluid workday. It also showed people the limitations of an “always on” mindset. 71% of people who responded to the AMA survey reported feeling stressed out at work. They’re three times as likely to seek employment elsewhere. It just doesn’t make sense to ignore the very real need for personal time to recharge, reset and get things done. Effective time management is about honoring one’s priorities away from work, too.

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