12 Time Management Skills You Need for Increased Productivity

Are you tired of feeling like there is never enough time in the day to accomplish everything on your to-do list?

Extremely productive people don’t have more hours in the day than anyone else. Their “secret” is that they understand how to effectively manage their time. This massively improves their productivity and project management. 

The good news is that this secret isn’t really a secret. You can learn how to manage your time effectively and become more productive as a result. 

If you follow the time management tips in this guide, you’ll soon find yourself completing tasks on time without the anxiety you’re accustomed to. If you’re ready to learn these tricks, continue reading!

Time Management Skills

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If you’re going to manage your time properly, you’ll need to utilize many different strategies and tactics on your journey. 

Some of the skills required may include proper planning, goal-setting, delegation, communication, and even the Pomodoro technique.

Benefits of Time Management

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There are many reasons why it’s worth learning to manage your time properly. With proper time management skills, we can learn to be more productive and get more value out of our working time. 

In the long term, we get more things done, giving us more time to pursue our other interests. Proper time management skills can also help reduce our stress and anxiety levels, leading to better work performance and a higher quality of life

In addition to the benefits mentioned above, proper time management can lead to increased focus, greater energy and motivation, and fewer distractions. To improve your quality of life overall, you need to learn how to manage your time better. 

What Is Effective Time Management?

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Effectively managing your time means optimizing the time you have to accomplish your tasks in a manner that reduces your effort while also increasing your efficiency. In short, it means doing more with less. 

Here are the essential skills you’ll need if you want to effectively manage your time and enjoy all of its attendant benefits. 

1. Planning

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If you’re going to get anything done, you need to plan. Planning means understanding what needs to be done, identifying potential obstacles, and developing a plan that outlines completing your tasks.

For example, if you have a couple of urgent meetings to attend, it’s vital to properly outline what you want to say in the meeting and what essential tasks you hope to accomplish during it. Doing this means you won’t risk wasting your time and that of others attending the meeting. 

People who do this show that they value not only their own time but the time of others. This can lead to better productivity and improve the team’s general output. 

2. Organization

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Organizing involves creating a system to keep track of tasks, deadlines, and appointments so that you can ensure everything is in its proper place. 

Accomplishing this is no mean feat so you might need some help. There are many free applications online that can help you organize your daily tasks and to-do lists.

Some of my personal favorites include Google Calendar, Workflowy, and Trello. But fancy new apps and programs don’t work for everyone. An old-school calendar and journal may be enough for you, so don’t overthink it.

The organization also has to do with your physical surroundings. A cluttered desk could be a sign of a cluttered mind. You need to tidy up your workspace and keep it that way so you don’t waste time looking for things and can concentrate better on your priorities.

You’ll have a better chance of using your time more effectively if you organize your physical workspace and tasks.

3. Prioritization

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It’s vital to prioritize tasks according to their level of importance. You must understand which task is the most important, bump it to the top of your to-do list, and get it out of the way first. By prioritizing like this, you won’t have to waste time on less important tasks, and you can dedicate your time to doing your best work on your most important jobs.

One way to prioritize is to use a priority matrix. This grid divides tasks into four different quadrants based on their level of importance and urgency. Organizing tasks in this way makes it easier to identify which tasks require immediate attention and which can be addressed later.

Alternatively, you can organize your tasks into a to-do list and put them in order by priority.

4. Goal-Setting

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People who set goals before beginning their work can allocate their time and resources more easily. One interesting way to use this skill is to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals.

Another way is to set deadlines for tasks yourself. This can help motivate you to finish projects on time and can, in turn, help you fight procrastination. You can even use this skill in your personal life. For example, setting a goal to start a healthy habit can be beneficial to your productivity in the long run.

5. Setting Boundaries

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If you’re going to protect your space enough to focus on increasing your productivity, you have to set boundaries. Distractions are one of the biggest reasons people aren’t as productive as they could be. 

A good way to set boundaries is to create time for the important things in your life

For example, you should carve out time in your schedule to attend to the people and things that might intrude on the time you want to spend working. By carving out time for them, you’re sending a signal that you won’t be available during other times. That’s successful boundary-setting.

6. Delegation

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You can’t always accomplish tasks by yourself. Often, you’ll need help. The trick to delegating tasks is knowing which tasks need to be delegated and whom they can be delegated to.

The best way to delegate tasks is to understand the capacity of the people you work with properly. Once you accurately understand their skills and attitudes, it will be easier to understand where they can help and where they can’t. Incidentally, this is one of the traits of a successful leader.

7. Communication

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Many people spend too much valuable time dealing with misunderstandings and other issues that can be solved with proper communication. Effective communicators have the capacity to communicate their thoughts and ideas while listening to others. 

People who learn to use effective communication will save time, avoid misunderstandings with their colleagues and bosses, and be able to focus on their jobs. 

A necessary part of effective communication is learning to say “no” when necessary. Doing this will help you avoid piling up a to-do list with tasks you don’t have the time to complete. 

8. Discipline

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If you want to set goals, plan, and organize properly, you need discipline. Discipline allows you to stay the course, adhere to your schedule, and see plans through. Without sufficient levels of self-control, this is virtually impossible. 

Aside from staying focused, the discipline also means taking responsibility for your actions and being accountable to yourself and others. In time management, it may mean being humble enough to learn from past mistakes and incorporate those lessons into present and future tasks. 

9. Stress Management

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Stress and anxiety are the most common symptoms of bad time management. When deadlines seem insurmountable, it’s common to be stressed out. 

Stress makes it impossible to focus and may leave you so burnt out that completing your tasks can seem like a herculean feat. This can have the unfortunate effect of wasting your time and reducing productivity. Moreover, stress can hurt your health, too. 

Thankfully, there are many techniques for dealing with stress and anxiety. Some of these techniques include regular exercise, meditation, and deep breathing. Taking a short break from getting things done can also help manage your stress and anxiety. 

10. Problem-Solving

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When faced with a problem, it’s easy to get stuck and waste precious time trying to figure out the solution. However, by developing problem-solving skills, you can quickly identify the root cause of the problem and find efficient solutions.

If you have a difficult project to complete, a great way to solve that problem might be to break it into smaller, more manageable parts and work through it part by part. Breaking it down may also help you identify why it was so difficult in the first place, which may lead to lasting solutions. You may also want to seek help from colleagues or other resources to help quickly and efficiently solve the problem.

11. Pomodoro Technique

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The Pomodoro technique is a special formula for breaking up your time and managing it effectively. The strategy involves splitting your work into smaller and more manageable pieces by setting a timer for 25 minutes of concentrated effort and then taking a brief 5-minute break.

After four sessions, you can take a longer break of about 15–30 minutes. This allows you to complete your work without getting burnt out. It also lets you stay focused and gives you a sense of accomplishment after each task. This technique is beneficial in helping students achieve higher grades—thus improving productivity.  

12. Note-Taking

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People who take notes can capture critical information and ideas on the go. This information may later prove important in helping the note-taker solve their problems faster, giving them more value for their time. 

One note-taking strategy you can incorporate into your workday is the Cornell method. This note-taking technique involves dividing your notebook into two-thirds and one-third sections. 

The gist of the information you’re trying to capture should go into the two-thirds portion, while the one-third portion should be reserved for hints, prompts, and interesting strings of thought you want to explore later. 

Note-taking makes you more efficient because it makes it harder for vital information to slip by. 

How to Improve Your Time Management Skills

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Start making use of planners, calendars, and to-do lists. These tools will make time management and organizing your work and space easier. 

You also need to start setting goals and boundaries. Goal-setting keeps you focused, and creating boundaries between work and distractions allows you to accomplish more things. 

By implementing all of this, your time management skills will improve drastically.

Practice Time Management and Take Control of Your Schedule

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Now that you know the “secret” to effective time management, it’s time to put these skills to work and start getting more value for your time. While some of these skills may be harder to implement than others (for example, setting boundaries can be a headache), you can start practicing most of them right now.

Once you start, you’ll notice a reduction in anxiety and effort and an improvement in daily productivity.

Author: Christopher Alarcon

Title: Journalist

Expertise: personal finance, side hustles, time management

Bio:

Christopher Alarcon is a journalist with a deep passion for personal finance. He has contributed to major online publications, including MSN, Wealth of Geeks, and Business Insider.