Thoughtful Time Management Skills for Professionals By Kgomotso Mopalami (HRP)

The Cost of Stress at Work: Employer Responsibility by Kgomotso Mopalami
April 3, 2019
April 17, 2019

It was back in 1996 when I received a certificate in Management Skills; and one of those was Time Management.  It is more than two decades, but this skill still carries the same weight as it always did.  Well-said:“The world of work has changed a lot since the 1950s;but some things have stayed the same” ( 

Employees are faced with mammoth tasks in their daily lives and at times they might be so overwhelmed that they might even reach a breaking point or burn-out. It is thus imperative that professionals manage the hours they have at their disposal, to complete the tasks at hand without much hassle.  Often people multi-task, take work home and are unable to distinguish between important, less important and urgent matters; they spend long hours on technological devices or even reading as well asresponding to e-mails that are overclouding their computers, till late; thus, trying to catch up.  This not only leads to burn-out but also a dilemma of work-life balance.  Multitasking is a big mistake: “We’re far more productive if we ‘single task’, especially when carrying out ‘deep work’ – focused, sustained activity that demands undivided attention.” Effective time management makes employees more efficient, more effective and less stressed, and is a fundamental skill in all organisations.  

Planning and organizing your time for daily activities can help reduce stress and improve the ability to function.  Time management is the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between specific activities. Good time management enables you to work smarter – not harder – so that you get more done in less time, even when time is tight, and pressures are high. Failing to manage your time damages your effectiveness and causes stress(  Managing time often involves taking hard decisions; choosing between work and one’s emotional wellbeing.  Also, failure to manage one’s time effectively can have dire consequences such as, missed deadlines, poor work quality, being disorganized, high stress levels due to piling work-load; and a possible dent to one’s reputation.  

However, having a focused mind and planning accordingly can be of great assistance.  Below are essential time management skills, that every Professional can master in completing their daily tasks:

Goal setting:setting high goals is important and not to stop till you reach the anticipated results.  When making decisions about what to focus on, it is vital to be cognizant of one’s goals and how each action is aimed at bringing you closer to achieving those goals

Planning:Allows you to foresee all tasks required to complete a project and how best they will fit together

Prioritisation:  Good ideas don’t kill a business; but too many can. Prioritising should begin with eliminating unnecessary tasks

Self-awareness:Its important to have a clear understanding of own likes, dislikes and needs.  No two people can work the same way.  Taking a little time to identify what was specific about the situation that allowed high performance standard, is vital.  Also, identify conditions which encourage poor performance, should that happen 

Self-motivation: Be motivated to define your job, goals, priorities before you carry out a task.  Inability to motivate yourself might give rise to stress and large amounts of pressure

Focus: Single tasking is the best way to achieve focus; develop the ability to identify the most important task you can complete at the time and ability to block everything else that might hinder your progress

Decision making: This is the time management skill that if you can’t master you might notice a negative impact in other areas of life.  Prepare beforehand, know how much time you have, resources and have a clear criterion on how to carry out tasks

Communication: Working with others is important; strong communication skills enable supportive relationships with those you work with.  You also need to say “NO”where necessary

Questioning and Challenging:Challenge things that don’t meet your standard; people might delegate work to you because it is convenient for them but not as the correct cause of action. Also, accept work only if you’re clear about what’s expected

Delegation:You don’t necessarily have to be the person to complete an important task; ask yourself if it is suitable for somebody else’s skills set.  As you delegate, provide all the necessary information, to enable the person to have a clear understanding about what’s expected, and then follow-up

Coping Skills: Instead of wallowing, when thigs go wrong review the situation instead; identify the correct course of action and implement.  Your cognitive ability plays a major role in determining the results

Stress Management:With work, comes pressure; be proactive to avoid negative impact on your performance and time management

Working Effectively with Others:Get to know people better; build positive relationships and ensure that team objectives are met

Record Keeping: Knowing exactly where to find necessary information when you need it saves time; determine what information you need and put systems in place to enable you to collect and store it

Organisation and Filing: Extension of record keeping saves time; it allows you to capture your commitments and later retrieve without a hassle

Patience: Time management skill is all about ensuring that the important work gets done, rather than getting more work done. This is important as mistakes might be done when driving for more ideas instead of important ones

Forgiveness: This might sound religious, however, same as patience, forgiveness is a skill.  As you improve your time management skills and become more effective, mistakes might happen, co-workers might let you down, you might be infuriated and emotional; it is thus important to remember that mistakes are rarely intentional and therefore, you need to move on as this will maintain your self-esteem and improve relationship with others.

As HR Professionals, time management can help a great deal in your professional life.  Completing your tasks and keeping your promises to the society builds and maintains your reputation.  It is thus important to be effective and productive as opportunities for advancement increase and are an enabler to achieve important life and career goals.