You don’t just wake up one day as a master of productivity and time management. Forming the right mix of productivity and time management skills takes time.
It takes trial and error.
It takes persistence.
But the result is well worth the effort.
Time management skills: 10 essentials to boost your productivity
Woah! My dream life? That’s a pretty big statement there.
It definitely is. It’s definitely possible though.
Productivity and time management both deal with your ability to get stuff done.
Therefore, it’s possible that by doing the right things, in the right order, in the right amount of time, you can create something amazing for yourself.
In fact, we have an entire free productivity and time management bootcamp dedicated to just that!
Will creating your dream life be easy? Definitely not.
But it is possible!
By consistently working on your productivity and time management skills, you can create a framework for achieving your goals.
The big picture
Think of your goals and dream life as the big picture. A thing off in the distance acting as your north star.
It may seem far away today, but as long as you continue to take deliberate steps toward that goal, you will eventually reach it.
You may get lost from time to time, you may lose motivation, but as long as you keep pressing forward you will get there.
That’s where productivity and time management come in.
Time management is a way of using your time effectively each day. It’s not wasted time, it’s not idle time, it’s effective time.
When you pair that with productivity, which is getting the right stuff done in the right order, you have something amazing.
Because now that you are using your time for the things that matter, you can start making huge strides toward your goals.
How to manage time effectively
Image being on a ship and you’re the captain.
Your goals are where you’re headed to.
Time management is the wind pushing you forward because you know which direction to go and you refuse to waste any time getting there.
And productivity is the tools that you use to repair and speed up your ship as you go.
By combining these altogether, you can reach your goals and create something amazing for yourself.
So it’s time to set sail!
Use this list of time management skills below to leave the dock behind and head off toward your dreams.
1. Shift your mindset
One of the best time management skills you can adopt is the ability to shift your mindset.
To have an open mind, able to understand fresh perspectives, and willing to question them.
Basically, to challenge both yourself and your assumptions in regards to how things work.
One great way to do this is to simply ask yourself, why! For example, why…
- Do I do X first thing in the morning?
- Am I responsible for X tasks?
- Is there only so much of X?
These questions are meant to help you understand the big picture.
Because often the work we do (whatever work is to you) is misaligned with our goals.
So from time to time, ask yourself why.
You may just discover new ways of doing things. Or better yet, that some things that you do now don’t need to be done at all!
When it comes to creating goals, one of the best ways to achieve them is to have a strong why behind them.
We cover goal setting in-depth in our free productivity and time management bootcamp.
2. Utilize a calendar
Ah, the calendar. Seen by many as one of the top time management strategies.
Because of how helpful it is in organizing your life.
Whether planning for today, tomorrow, or a year from now, using a calendar is a must.
Most smartphones come with a calendar built in. Personally, I use the default one that comes on Apple devices.
I’ve also heard great things about Google Calendar as well (in fact, here is an article filled with the best productivity apps).
Use your calendar as a way to plan for the future, stay organized, and manage your time.
3. Stop multitasking
Plain and simple. Multitasking doesn’t work.
I used to consider myself the king of multitasking… until I realized that I wasn’t actually getting anything done.
If you’re wondering how to develop your time management skills, here’s where to start.
By spreading your focus too thin (ie. multitasking), you won’t be able to get anything done.
Instead, create a list of what you need to do, pick the most important item on that list, and start working on it with laser focus.
Close out of your social media, put your phone on airplane mode, and get it done!
By single-tasking instead of multitasking, you will start to make huge strides in whatever you are trying to get done.
4. Be flexible
What? Be flexible? Didn’t you just tell me to plan out my life with a calendar?
Yes, but there’s more to time management than just using a calendar.
Things will happen unexpectedly. Problems arise here or there, deadlines change, kids’ schedules get mixed up.
Life will mess up your plans from time to time.
And when that happens, you need to be flexible.
In those moments, use your time to the best of your ability, but don’t be too hard on yourself if other things take precedent.
Be flexible with your schedule and open to the fact that things will change and you’ll have to adapt as you go.
However, don’t use those events as an excuse to stop working on your goals.
Once the unexpected situation gets resolved, get back to the task at hand with motivation and drive.
5. Know when to say No (and Yes!)
When starting out, you may feel the urge to say Yes to every single thing that comes your way.
You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity, so if you say Yes to everything you’ll never miss a thing..
One of the best time management skills that you should develop is to know when to say Yes and when to say No.
Because attending an event you said Yes to will take time. Time that could be spent elsewhere.
So recognize that everytime you say Yes to one thing you are also saying No to something else.
Keep your goals in mind when making decisions and be aware of how valuable your time actually is.
6. Optimize your meetings
Meetings are time wasters.
At best they help move a project along. At worst they burn an hour from your otherwise productive day.
Similar to learning when to say Yes and No, take the time to understand which meetings will provide value to you before agreeing to them.
If deemed not valuable, politely decline.
Or if you determine that it’s an important meeting to attend, make sure that:
- Only the necessary people are there. Keep it small and concise.
- There is an outline of topics that will be covered.
- That it is scheduled for a short period and ends on time.
I try and avoid meetings at all costs, but when I need to attend them, I make sure they follow those guidelines.
7. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone
Here’s one of the best (and simplest) time management skills to develop – pick up the phone.
Back and forth email wastes time. Communication often falls apart, messages take a long time to deliver, and much time is wasted.
If you are looking to get things done faster, try picking up the phone and calling that other person.
Doing so will avoid time waste and miscommunication.
With an ever-expanding list of to-dos, it is imperative that you prioritize the important versus the not important.
Go though your list and determine which items are important, not important, urgent, and not urgent.
Use your goals as a reference point to help determine which items should be worked on first.
Put the urgent, important items at the top of your list and either remove or put the not urgent, not important items at the bottom.
Bonus: When looking to plan your day, here are a few tips on how to be more productive.
9. Get motivated
Whether it’s work, your routine, or overall health, burnout is not fun to deal with.
So be proactive!
Experiment with different ways of keeping yourself fresh and motivated. Build in some new positive habits, try out some new techniques, and keep pushing onward.
And for a little extra boost, check out these tips on how to be productive when not feeling motivated at all.
10. Learn to focus
To close out our list of time management skills, one thing that you’ll need to learn is how to focus.
We’ve written about focus a lot. Here are two of our more popular articles on the matter:
When it comes down to focus, there is no right answer. You need to follow a strategy that works for you.
Whether that’s setting a timer, playing music for productivity, or finding a quieter place to work, the key to this time management skill is finding what allows you to best concentrate.
Because through better focus, you will be able to get more done and be more effective.
Remember, time management works differently for different people.
It takes time to develop and even those with strong time management skills know that there is always room for improvement.
So do your best to manage your time effectively. Use the list above as inspiration and revisit it from time to time.
With patience and a little trial and error, you will create a strategy that works for you!