Time Management Skills - Personal Development

How To Improve Your Time-Management Skills

Last Updated on July 15, 2023 by Anneke Schmidt, PhD

Have you ever wondered how good your time-management skills are or if it is, perhaps, time for you to focus more on them? 

Time may be infinite, yet we never seem to have enough of it. If you share this feeling, don’t worry.  There are many ways in which you can improve your skills in time management and carve out a bit more time for yourself and the things you love doing in life.

Keep reading if you want to learn what time-management skills are, why they are so important, and how you can work on them to spend your time wisely.

What Are Time-Management Skills?

Time-management skills are a collection of organizational processes which help us to manage our time consciously and effectively. Managing time in this way maximizes the time you spend on your priorities.

At work, this may be daily procedures and KPI targets (Key Performance Indicators). But time management is also essential when establishing a healthy work-life balance, as seen in modern research into the conflict between work and life. According to Susan Milner (2008), time management and inter-role conflict (role overload and interference), alongside care arrangements for dependents, are the most important issues to be considered [1].

Introducing time-management skills into our daily lives gives us control over our time and energy. When we can schedule our most important activities and, crucially, adapt to spontaneous events and changing conditions, it becomes easier to fulfill our commitments and increases our happiness in the process.

Organizational skills, of which time management is a part, are often used to measure success. People who have good time-management skills are usually perceived as more motivated and productive than those who do not. Investing in organizing your time is one of the most valuable steps you can take to motivate yourself toward a more aligned and authentic self. 


Why Are Time-Management Skills Important?

Time-management skills can benefit every area of your life. They can create better habits, greater productivity, increased confidence, and lower stress. Efficient time planning consciously controls how long we spend on assigned and essential tasks and opens up space in our schedules to achieve personal goals.

Whether it is work, family, friends, or children needing your time, it may seem that everyone but you holds a claim on your day. These demands can become so relentless that it may even appear challenging to find the time to improve time management. But the benefit of developing time-management skills is so simple – it gives us more time – that it is an essential part of personal well-being. With that time we free up, it becomes possible to achieve the very things that seem to perpetually move to tomorrow’s to-do list.

But what if you want to make time for tomorrow instead? Managing your time wisely improves well-being because it opens space in your life to prioritize yourself and say yes to opportunities and experiences, making life easier and more fulfilling. When we become intentional about utilizing our precious time, we work smarter instead of harder in every aspect of life. So, if modern life demands our attention, what can time management do for personal development?

Time Management as a Life-Improving Soft Skill

Time management is one of the key soft skills that potential employers look for when hiring. But soft skills are not limited to indicating job success. These non-technical skills, which promote productivity, efficiency, and communication, are just as valuable to personal growth as they are to careers. If the presence of soft skills can predict and produce success in life [2], then we should also consider time management for work-life balance.

Time Management - Soft Skills

Throughout the 20th century, most research into time management focused on how it could benefit work performance. An efficient workforce is, after all, an economic one. However, recent research has become more concerned with understanding the relationship between time management and personal well-being. In 2021, researchers analyzed previous time-management studies, uncovering evidence that time management actually has a slightly stronger impact on well-being than on performance [3]. While this does not negate the role time management plays in an efficient workforce, it does demonstrate how time management is crucial to personal development and self-care.

There are many time-management methods to choose from, depending on the situation. From learning to prioritize tasks in order of importance to delegating activities that are not essential for you to perform, time-management methods enable us to concentrate on the things that matter outside of the workplace. Imagine being guilt-free and in the present moment as you spend more time with loved ones, meet personal commitments without stress and find true joy in off-the-clock activities such as hobbies and travel.

Wasting Time and How Time-Management Skills Add Value

Time is one of the most precious resources we have. Why, then, is it so easy to waste it? Perhaps, first, we need to stop describing it as wasting time and instead focus on why we struggle to use time effectively.

The modern world is fast, furious, and filled with distractions. Research has suggested our attention spans are getting shorter, but Dr. Gemma Briggs thinks it’s more nuanced than that; our attention span has always been task-dependent [4]. This is where the difference between conscious and unconscious use of time lies.

Time Management - Wasting Time

We have problems managing our time, not because we are inherently bad at timekeeping or because a cell phone notification has distracted us. Rather, it is because we allow those behaviors to develop into habits. When we concentrate on one task at a time, we commit instead to intentional activity. When we value the task and the time we spend on it, we can improve our well-being concerning both.

7 Tips And Ideas To Improve Your Time-Management Skills

People who use time-management skills have more personal time. Here are seven ways that you can improve your time management and enjoy every minute.

#1 – Give Yourself Permission

Do you struggle to prioritize your needs? It might be easy to know what you need to get done at work, but it can be a different matter at home, especially if other people ask for your time. 

Give yourself permission to make time for the things you want to do – and do so. Being mindful and present can energize you, contributing to better mood-improving productivity elsewhere, too!

#2 – Write a Not-To-Do List

Daily life demands can seem never-ending and often pointless, too. Try writing a Not-To-Do List for yourself instead. Start by writing down everything you don’t want to do anymore. Absolve yourself of the tasks you can, and for those that can’t be culled, consider outsourcing or reducing how often you undertake them. 

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown explores this concept in more detail, looking at how we can find abundance and authenticity by doing and having less.

#3 – Start Prioritizing 

Not all important tasks are created equal.

Priority tasks are those essential for work and life. When compiling your to-do list for the day, a simple way to set priorities is to consider whether a job is urgent, necessary, or unnecessary.

Focus on the urgent and necessary items first. They are priorities.

Don’t forget that prioritizing activities that have a positive impact on your emotional and physical well-being is important, too. 

#4 – Take Regular Breaks

Studies have found that taking a break can reduce or prevent stress, help to maintain performance throughout the day, and reduce the need for a long recovery at the end of the day [5].

Time Management - Take A Break

Making breaks a priority is an opportunity to reset – even when you’re on the life side of the work-life balance. In fact, breaks are also a vital part of work-focused time-management skills. Without them, we risk burning out, and burnout leads to unproductivity.

#5 – Start Using a Calendar

Calendars are still one of the best tools for long-term planning – or remembering a short-notice deadline. By giving yourself a physical copy, you remove the mental load of remembering anything other than checking what events are upcoming. 

#6 – Set Time Limits

Assess how long a task will take before you start – and stick to it. Time constraints help us to focus. Acknowledging when you need extra time or another pair of hands to help you tick another thing off the list will alleviate stress.

Time Management - Setting Time Limits

#7 – Don’t Be Afraid To Ask for Help

Everyone needs help sometimes. Don’t fall into the trap of taking on too much. Whether it’s delegating a task in the office or asking your partner to work alongside you on a household task, there are times when you’ll definitely feel better sharing the load. 

The Bottom Line

Time-management skills are important skills to develop. They help us use our time more efficiently, thus benefitting every aspect of our lives. There are many ways to improve our skills in time management and stop wasting precious time on things that should not be a priority in our day-to-day planning. So, maybe it’s time for us to find a little more time for time management in our lives.

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