🗓️ Are impressive to-do lists enough to improve time management skills at work?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what makes time management skills important, if not essential in the workplace, and give you the best tips to use your time wisely. And to answer the question above: No, if you are really behind with your time management and desperately want to improve, writing to-do lists is not cutting it!
What are the benefits of (effective) time management?
Effective time management reduces the likelihood of mistakes, gives you room to maneuver, lowers your error rate, and can also help you avoid unneeded stress. It’s not so much about achieving more than you planned, but rather about accomplishing your goals in the allotted time frame.
That’s why people who know how to use their time efficiently are frequently more productive, more motivated, and more likely to meet deadlines or finish tasks on time.
📝 Note: Did you know that effective time management is one of the top 10 soft skills in the workplace?
Why are time management skills at work important?
Good time management helps you create a work environment that really makes a difference in how you fill your hours on the job. Not only does it aid you in dealing with distractions, but it also allows you to prioritize your tasks, and ensures that you have a fulfilling and productive workday, which can lead to more satisfaction and motivation at work.
What are good time management skills?
Some essential time management skills in the workplace include organizing, prioritizing, delegating, and goal setting. Knowing when and how to take a break, for example, is also an integral part of it.
➡️ To find out more, check out our list of ways to manage time effectively and improve your time management skills right now! We also have specific suggestions on how you can implement each tip, so grab a notebook and write down everything that resonates with you.
Improve your time management: 5 time management tips for the workplace
Make your work life much easier with these essential time management tips:
1. Get organized
It’s definitely a good idea to invest some time into a to-do list for starters. First, organize your tasks so that you can see their deadlines immediately. Then consider which days are best to use for specific tasks. For example, don’t tackle challenging tasks on Fridays when your weekly batteries are already pretty low.
💡 Tip: Schedule in both your tasks/activities and some free time as well. To allow for unforeseen circumstances, you can even set deadlines a few days in advance.
✅ How can you get better at organizing yourself?
Use a calendar, either an 📲 online app or an 📓 actual planner, and put all your tasks into it to get a comprehensive overview of everything you need to do.
2. Prioritize your tasks
When organizing your to-do list, setting priorities is the key to successful time management at work. You can organize your tasks by importance and urgency. For example, look at your daily tasks and determine which ones are both important and urgent. Complete these tasks straight away, because they call for immediate action. Continue with all other tasks in descending order.
✅ How can you get better at establishing priorities?
If you are not sure which tasks need to be tackled immediately and which are less important, always look at their 📅 due dates. If you don’t have a deadline (e.g. from a supervisor), make it a habit to set your own deadlines for all your tasks.
3. Set up an efficient workflow
Are there too many urgent tasks on your list? If you have several important tasks to complete, an effective plan would be to tackle related tasks together. If you don’t plan ahead, you may find yourself jumping back and forth while trying to get all of your tasks done. This will cost you time and energy.
✅ How can you improve your workflow?
If you’re aiming for a steady workflow, the 🍅 Pomodoro technique can help you work through your to-do list in 25-minute segments. This technique creates a balance between a tight focus and frequent breaks, reducing mental stress and maintaining motivation.
4. Take short breaks in between
Even if you don’t work with the Pomodoro technique, it’s very important to take frequent shorter breaks to stay focused during the workday. This can indeed be a challenge, especially if you are working with tight deadlines or are completely immersed in a task.
✅ How can you make sure you don’t miss your breaks?
If you plan to take a short walk or practice yoga during your downtime, put that on your calendar! And if you miss such things easily, set an 🔊 audible notification or ⏰ alarm.
5. Write down your goals
As you implement all of the above steps, don’t forget to aim for specific objectives as well. SMART goals, in particular, are a great way to add more structure and a finishing touch to your personal time management strategy. Having specific goals will most likely increase your productivity and motivate you to complete your tasks even more than a perfectly organized workday!
✅ How can you get better at setting attainable and smart goals?
Are you still having a hard time with goal setting? An important tip here is to take it step by step. Tackle the 🎯 smaller goals first (even something as trivial as texting with colleagues for 10 minutes less during your workday) and then move on to 🏁 bigger goals, like talking to your boss about a pay raise!
Bonus: 7 time management and productivity tips for remote workers
Of course, the above tips apply to a remote office as well, but there are a few additional things to keep in mind when 🏡 working from home.
1. Keep a time log
How much time do you need for which activities during a workday? A time log will show you how you spend your time and how much time you spend on unproductive tasks.
2. Get rid of distractions
Turn off your notifications and put your smartphone on silent, so you don’t waste time on non-work related topics. Noise-canceling headphones will also help you limit interruptions.
3. Organize your workspace
A tidy workspace can help you save time by not having to search for the items you need to complete each task.
💡 Tip: If you don’t already have a workspace in your home, the next thing you should do is set up a desk dedicated solely to work, or even better, a single room that you use only for business purposes.
4. Take action against procrastination
Things like extended lunch breaks or social media can distract you from the tasks at hand. Don’t let this happen to you! If you’re procrastinating, find out why and take action before you feel overwhelmed.
5. Avoid multi-tasking
Did you know that you’re most likely actually losing time and being less productive when you keep switching from one task to the next? So take it one task at a time.
6. Set time limits to tasks
When you create your schedule, put time limits on tasks instead of just working until they’re done. That way, you’re guaranteed to stop wasting time, we promise!
💡 Tip: Set yourself realistic time limits. The data from your time log will help you plan your tasks so that you can actually get everything done as scheduled.
7. Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water, and eating a healthy diet can also help you remain focused during the workday, especially if you usually hit a low in the afternoon.
How to improve time management – conclusion
✨ Effective time management depends on a number of components, not just organizational skills or the ability to prioritize.
Managing your time effectively can actually lead to more success at work and less time wasted on unrelated activities. Did you know that great time management is a key trait employers look for, as the ability to prioritize tasks is highly desirable for any business.
Two final tips we’ve found to be especially valuable if you want to improve your time management skills:
- Acknowledge your success with a small 🎁 reward: Finding a reward for yourself that doesn’t distract you from your daily tasks can significantly reduce stress and motivate you to continue developing your time management skills.
- Set 🙅 boundaries for what you get involved in: Are you one of those people who take on as many tasks as others ask of them to show their commitment to their work? If you take on too many responsibilities, it can be very difficult to juggle them all. So if you limit the number of tasks others want you to take on, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed.
How to improve time management – FAQ
Do you feel like you are faced with an overwhelming number of tasks and can’t complete a single one of them in time? Effectively managing time in this case means tackling the tasks that require your immediate attention first, and then moving on to the others. Remember to dedicate yourself to one task at a time and take regular breaks to stay focused.
1️⃣ Set priorities. 2️⃣ Manage your time with checklists and deadlines. 3️⃣ Write a list on how you plan to spend the next day at work.
If you want to develop your time management skills, you can use time tracking, for example. This is a time management technique that allows you to keep track of your hours. As you complete daily activities according to your schedule, delegating some work, rewarding yourself and taking breaks when necessary can also help you maintain focus and motivation.