by Josh Millar
If you’re striving to increase productivity, it’s worth looking at the challenge from all angles. Today, I want to explore the skills that support our time-management efforts. Our skills don’t exist in a vacuum. While time management is a skill in itself, there are several other skills professionals can develop to support it. Looking at these different areas is a must if you want to increase productivity. We can continue trying new strategies for greater efficiency, but if these important skills aren’t as strong as they need to be, those efforts can be in vain. Here are the key skills that support productivity:
In just about every profession out there, communication is a vital skill. Whether you’re interfacing with clients, working with coworkers, or connecting with a manager, strong communication skills lay a foundation for efficiency. Without strong communication skills, misunderstandings can eat up valuable time. Confidence can also take a hit. Instead of confidently sending an email, you’ll waste minutes or longer trying to explain yourself. Communicating well is a practice. Some of the most important elements to consider are clarity, medium of communication, and tone. The more you refine your ability to properly navigate these things, the more effective your communication will be and the less time you’ll waste making up for misunderstandings.
The second piece of communication that we cannot overlook is listening. We know that expressing ourselves is important to our time-management efforts, but understanding others is equally important in preventing misunderstandings. When you practice active listening, you save yourself time down the line. Instead of having to dig through emails or research something a coworker told you about, you’ll have paid attention to the information you need.
Along the lines of active listening, we can benefit from finding practical ways to store the information we take in. Keeping it in your mind may work for some, but for most of us, note taking is a great way to ensure that you don’t forget important details. When you have a go-to notebook for logging information, you prevent yourself from wasting time digging for that name your coworker mentioned or the date of a networking event you learned about recently. The better you are at taking regular notes, the more effective this system can be in helping you manage your time.
The information we take in during conversations and via email isn’t the only information we need to store. As professionals today, there is a wealth of information, much of it in digital form, that we need to keep track of. When we’re not organized, we’re asking for trouble with time management. When your inbox piles up, it becomes difficult to access important messages. When your desk is cluttered, distractions can easily take hold. When you don’t keep a streamlined to-do list, it’s easy to forget important tasks. The stronger your organizational skills, the less likely these time-wasters are to occur.
Developing strong problem-solving skills is key for professionals today. When you don’t have strategies and techniques established for approaching problems, they can sabotage your day. Developing ways to creatively brainstorm, collaborate with other professionals, carve out time, and experiment with innovative solutions are all part of a strong problem-solving skill set. When you work to develop and build on this skill set, you decrease the amount of time problems will steal from your day. You allow yourself to more efficiently arrive at a solution, leaving yourself more time to focus on other things.
Finally, strong decision-making skills are essential for good time management. These skills help you determine which tasks you will tackle when. It might sound simple, but this is at the foundation of productivity. We need to understand how to prioritize our tasks, choose which ones need our attention, and determine the best time to accomplish them. When we don’t have strong decision-making skills, this becomes challenging.
If you’re focused on improving your time-management skills, don’t overlook other important skills that can help you get there. The way we manage our time impacts all parts of our workdays, so it makes sense that it incorporates so many skills. Are there any other skills that you find useful when it comes to time management? I’d love to hear your thoughts.