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15 Essential Time Management Skills for Work-Life Balance

Maria Kharlantseva, November 19, 2023
time management skills

Time management‘ refers to one’s ability to balance, prioritize and organize tasks and projects. In simplest terms, there are two aspects of time management—the amount of time you have (e.g., 9-5) and the amount of time you use efficiently from the real-time window. Of course, the time you spend actually working is influenced by a range of factors, including your environment, your thinking habits, and how much attention you give to different tasks. 

To truly thrive at work, you must learn how to manage your time effectively. This article explores 15 essential time management skills everyone should seek to master.

What Are Time Management Skills?

15 essential time management skills everyone should master

What are time management skills, you ask? Well, time management skills are those skills that help you use your time in the most efficient way possible. This can involve anything from learning how to better organize your time, prioritize tasks, use effective time management tactics, and simply learn how to say ‘no’ when necessary. Without further ado, let’s explore the 15 most important time management skills in more detail.

15 Time Management Skills To Master

📅 Create a schedule and stick to it

In order to manage your time effectively, you need to create a schedule that realistically reflects the amount of time you have available. Once you have adopted efficient time management strategies and created a concise schedule, make sure to stick to it as closely as possible. This will help ensure that you are using your time efficiently.

❗ Prioritize important work

If you want to be truly successful at work, you need to learn how to prioritize tasks by importance. That means figuring out what tasks are the most important and then making sure those tasks get done first. We’ve outlined how you can identify tasks that are most urgent and important and then prioritize accordingly:

1️⃣ First, make a list of all the tasks you need to do. Then, identify which ones are urgent and which ones are important. Urgent tasks are those that need to be done right away, while important tasks are those that contribute to your long-term goals.

2️⃣ Once you’ve identified which urgent and important tasks, it’s time to prioritize. The most effective way to do this is to focus on the important tasks first and then work on the urgent tasks as time allows.

3️⃣ Of course, there will be times when a task is both urgent and important. In these cases, you’ll need to assess whether it can wait or needs your immediate attention. Use your best judgment in these situations, and don’t hesitate to ask for help if you’re unsure what to do.

⌛ Track your time

A great way to manage your time effectively is to use a time management app – for example, a time tracker like Everhour. Doing so gives you a clear picture of where your time goes and how you spend it, allowing you to make better decisions about your time usage.

There are a few different ways to track your time with Everhour. The first is by manually logging your hours. This can be done by logging in at the start and end of each day or by tracking your hours as you work.

clock in and clock out for tracking work hours vs project hours

The second way to track your time with Everhour is through its integration with various project management tools. If you’re using tools such as Asana, Basecamp, Trello, or Jira, Everhour can automatically pull in your data and populate detailed and insightful reports. This saves you the hassle of manually logging your hours and provides a more accurate picture of where you’re spending your time.

Everhour also offers a range of other useful tools, such as a time clock app that acts as a work hours tracker, making employee time tracking easier than ever! The timesheet app and the easy-to-use attendance tracker allow users to track their time in one place, resulting in more accurate invoicing for clients and payroll for employees.

Whichever method you choose, tracking your time with Everhour is an essential step in developing good time management skills. By understanding where your time goes, you can start to make better decisions about how to use it!

🤔 Set realistic deadlines for tasks

Setting deadlines is a crucial part of time management. If you don’t set deadlines, you’ll struggle to get tasks done. But setting unrealistic deadlines is just as bad as not setting any at all. So when you’re setting deadlines, be realistic about what you can achieve in the time frame you have. Don’t try to cram too many tasks in a short period of time, or your work will suffer.

🎇 Minimize distractions

When it comes to time management, one of the most important skills is minimizing distractions around you. All sorts of distractions can eat into our time, from social media, emails, phone calls, and unexpected visitors. Minimizing these distractions will help you make the most of your time.

15 essential time management skills everyone should master

One way to minimize distractions is to set aside specific times for dealing with them. For example, you could check social media or email only at certain times of the day or batch tasks together so that you’re not interrupted every time something new comes up.

Another way to reduce distractions is to create a distraction-free environment for yourself, whether by working in a quiet room or using tools like website blockers on your computer. Making a conscious effort to minimize distractions will help you to be more productive and efficient with your time.

🤹‍♀️ Don’t multitask

It’s no secret that multitasking will result in less productivity than focusing on one task at a time. So, to be more productive, it’s important to learn to focus on one task before moving on to the next one.

One of the best ways to do this is to use the Pomodoro Technique. This technique involves working on one task for 25 minutes and then having a 5-minute break. After repeating this four times, you can take a longer break of around 20 minutes. Using a Pomodoro app is a great way to stay focused and prevent burnout.

15 essential time management skills everyone should master
image source

Another way to avoid multitasking is to batch similar tasks together. For example, if you need to make several calls, set time aside to do them in one go instead of spreading them out across the day. Similarly, if you need to write several emails, do them all in one sitting. Batching similar tasks together will help you stay focused and get more done in less time.

😎 Give yourself breaks

We all know that feeling: You’ve been staring at the same document for hours, willing the words to arrange themselves into coherent sentences, but nothing is happening. Your brain is foggy, and you can’t focus on anything. If this sounds familiar, it might be because you’re starting to feel burnt out.

It’s vital to take breaks throughout the day, and what you do during your break is up to you. A break can be stepping away from your work for a couple of minutes to clear your head, going for a walk, play some time management games, listening to some music, or just sitting in silence. Whatever you do doesn’t matter as long as you give yourself time to relax and recharge!

15 essential time management skills everyone should master

🙅‍♀️ Say no to more work when necessary

If your schedule is full, you must learn how to say no to more work. By doing so, you can avoid being overwhelmed and stressed—be assertive and firm in your response and offer a plausible explanation for why you are unable to take on additional work. If possible, suggest an alternative solution or person who can help with the request.

🕗 Start early to avoid a last-minute rush

If you can, start tasks early. Plan ahead and make sure you have plenty of time to get things done. Set aside time each day to chip away at tasks and projects, and avoid procrastination at all costs!

When you start early, you can take your time and complete the work to a high standard. You won’t have to rush and will be less likely to make mistakes. 

😓 Combat stress

It’s no secret that work is a major source of stress for many. Chronic stress has very serious consequences for physical and mental health. For example, research shows that chronic stress can lead to various health problems, including anxiety, depression, and even heart problems.

15 essential time management skills everyone should master

So what can you do to combat stress at work? Here are a couple of helpful time management tips:

  • ❗ Make sure you’re taking breaks away from your screen throughout the day. Whether it’s getting up to stretch or taking a quick walk outside, taking regular breaks will help you stay focused on the task at hand.
  • ❗ Take care of yourself outside of work. Eating healthy meals, getting regular exercise, and getting enough sleep is crucial for managing stress and mental health disorders.

🤥 Avoid procrastination

It’s easy to fall into the procrastination trap. However, procrastination can have a severe impact on your productivity and efficiency. There are a few tried and tested ways to fight procrastination, some of which we’ve already explored.

For example, setting realistic deadlines, breaking down tasks into smaller chunks, creating a clear plan of action, and taking steps to avoid distractions will reduce your chances of succumbing to procrastination.

👫 Delegate tasks to colleagues

Assuming you’re in a management position, you’re probably responsible for a lot of tasks that can be delegated to your team. By doing so, you can focus on more important tasks and objectives while giving your team members a chance to prove themselves and take on more responsibility at work.

12 best time management techniques to increase your productivity

When delegating tasks, it’s important to be clear about what needs to be done. Set a clear deadline, make sure your colleague has the necessary skills and knowledge to complete the task successfully, and remember to follow up once the task is completed to ensure it was done to a good standard. Delegation is an essential time management skill that everyone should try to master early in their career.

🚮 Minimize unnecessary meetings

We’ve all sat through meetings thinking this could have been an email. Many meetings are unnecessary and, as a result, are a huge time sink. If a meeting is absolutely needed, make sure it is as short and concise as possible. Stick to the agenda, and refrain from any deviation from the topic at hand.

15 essential time management skills everyone should master

While it’s nice to catch up with colleagues and clients from time to time, too many meetings are a serious productivity killer. 

🔨 Use a project management tool to track progress

Project management tools are essential for effective time management. Not only do they help you track progress and ensure that tasks are completed on time, but they also allow teams to collaborate effectively. There are various project management tools available, so take the time to choose one that best suits your needs.

For example, Asana project management solution is one of the most popular PM tool out there. It allows you to create and manage tasks, set deadlines, and track progress. In addition, Asana is free to use, making it an affordable option for small businesses and individual users.

Another popular project management tool is Trello. Trello helps you organize tasks into boards and lists. You can also add files, images, and labels to help keep track of progress. Trello offers a free basic plan with a range of useful features.

Many other project management tools are available, including Jira and Basecamp. Choose a tool that best suits your needs and start tracking progress today by integrating it with a time management tool such as Everhour.

🌅 Use mornings to tackle the most important tasks first

The day’s most important tasks should be completed in the morning when you have the most energy and focus. This will help you to get through your day more efficiently and prevent any important tasks from slipping through the cracks.

You might benefit from creating a to-do list the night before, outlining your tasks for the day in priority order. For this, you can use various tools that have time tracking functionality, for example, Todoist time tracking integration. This way, you can hit the ground running and accomplish the most important tasks first.

15 essential time management skills everyone should master

If you find yourself distracted, make sure to take a break and return to the task later; otherwise, you might fall into a procrastination spiral from which you’ll struggle to break free. It’s important to stay focused on the task at hand to complete it efficiently and move on to the next task on your list.

By following these simple tips, you can make sure that you’re using your mornings effectively and getting the most important tasks done first.

Final Thoughts

Implementing effective time management skills and using time management techniques is a learning curve. You may find that a method that works for your colleague doesn’t work for you, and that’s OK. Everyone works differently; you need to find the methods that work best for you. By mastering the 15 time management skills above, you’ll set yourself up for future success!

Maria Kharlantseva

Maria is a proud content guardian with experience working for international teams and projects of different complexities. Maria has a passion for fantasy novels, music, black-and-white films, and nitpicking (because there is always room for improvement!).