Time Management Skills

Time management skills in the workplace are something that nearly everyone has to some extent, but which few people master. A lack of them causes stress in personal life, but in the workplace, it can lead to a serious crisis. For these reasons, employees at all levels–including those with good time management skills–will benefit from related L&D programs.

What Are Time Management Skills?

Time management skills allow an employee to plan and exercise conscious control of the time spent at work, which includes both challenging tasks and activities of secondary importance. This is a critical point because it is often the case that employees waste considerable time on non-essential tasks (see below), and even personal issues, instead of their actual job. 

In the workplace, time management skills are more than a way of getting individually organized. Many of these skills are used by a manager on behalf of a subordinate, such as planning and scheduling. Managers therefore need optimal time management skills, both for their own activities and those of others.   

Why Are Time Management Skills Important?

A lack of time management skills seriously affects both the organization and the individual. 

All businesses are subject to time limitations, and employees must be proficient at prioritizing tasks that need to be completed within these limitations. When a worker does not deliver on time, this impacts the entire organization. Similarly, if an employee needs to rush to finish urgent tasks on time, the quality of their efforts often suffers. When other workers need to compensate for late delivery and/or poor quality, stress levels increase for these coworkers, even if they are proficient with their own tasks. 

Of course, an employee who submits late or substandard work also suffers stress. Plus, weak time management skills cause a lack of work-life balance and a poor reputation and reduce an employee’s confidence when considering taking on new responsibilities. 

Time Management Really Touches Everything

Time management skills are interesting because they span various types of workplace skills. For instance, time management:

  • Is an important part of teamwork, so that everyone submits deliverables on time.
  • Is both a leadership and followership skill because effective time management requires both setting and adhering to schedules.
  • Is a self-management soft skill because it enables workers to complete their tasks on schedule, and can also be used outside of work to stay organized in personal issues.
  • Can also be considered a hard skill if an employee uses project management software to keep schedules in order.

The Importance of Focus

Time management is such a huge workplace issue that it has a noticeable effect on society. According to The Economist, a lack of concentration at work is a problem that, if corrected, would result in the US economy alone growing by USD 1.4 trillion. Of course, poor time management is an international problem, but it is noteworthy that it differs according to society. Of the countries studied in the Economist report, Australians waste the most time and Japanese the least. But how exactly do employees waste their time? The greatest drains are confusing work-related messages, followed by personal activities and recovery from distractions.

Examples of Time Management Skills

One way to explain time management skills is as a process, each step of which involves a complementary activity. The frequency with which a person runs through the process varies, but going through each step at the same time once per week is common. It often happens that this process needs to be revisited every time a new task comes along:


This step involves composing a list of all the tasks that need to be performed. One aspect of this phase is knowing about all of the tasks under the responsibility of the employee. This may include important tasks assigned by superiors or that need to be delegated to inferiors; these activities involve associated skills such as communication and leadership


Once a task list is formed, the next phase is to put each item in order of priority. Factors such as deadlines, duration, and urgency come into play here. It is also important to find out if there are tasks being performed by other employees that will interfere. One tool that is of use in the setting of priorities is the Eisenhower (or Important-Urgent) Matrix.  


The final step of the process requires arranging priorities according to a timeline. Some tasks require the feedback and/or contribution of others, and this is another instance where communication skills are necessary. Scheduling can be made easier through the use of time management tools like Todoist.

Record keeping

Besides the planning-prioritizing-scheduling process, record-keeping is another skill that saves a lot of time. It’s also one that tends to be lacking for disorganized employees, and is part of a common workplace barrier called “friction”. Friction consists of employee activities that are essentially a waste of time, and which is estimated to account for almost two working hours per day, per employee. However, there are software packages like Legito that can help in this regard. 

There are also other time management skills that can be thought of as “meta-skills”. They are not related to a process but instead are used constantly by employees: 


Lack of focus at work is a critical issue. In light of its importance, focus is a mainstay of time management coaching engagements, and is often coupled with motivation. The ability to focus can help with other workplace functions such as performance in meetings (as a communications skill) and detail-oriented tasks.     

Stress management

One of the natural effects of constant work is stress. Even the most efficient schedule requires effort, which is tough on employees both physically and mentally. As a means to support a worker’s continued output and welfare, stress management techniques should be taught and encouraged.   

The Challenge of Time Management Skills Programs

L&D programs for improving time management skills are sometimes complex to administer. Employees have varying levels of time management skills, so providing the same course to everyone is literally a waste of time. Secondly, L&D programs can conflict with an employee’s normal schedule. Obtaining buy-in from management for a time management skills program should therefore keep training time to a minimum.

Growthspace Makes Time Spent on Time Management Skills Worth It 

Growthspace addresses these challenges with a technology that matches the skill level of each employee with a vetted expert in that specific area. Growthspace courses are built around sprints that optimize L&D time in the face of job demands. With Growthspace’s global database of experts, you can find exactly the coach, mentor, or trainer that you need for imparting the right kind of time management skill to individual employees. If your organization is interested in time management skills training, take a few minutes to discover why so many major companies are turning to Growthspace today for their L&D needs.  

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