4 Time Management “Soft” Skills You Need to Develop

time management soft skills

I read a post a few months ago on Fast Company listing the biggest skills that new graduates lack and was struck by not only the number of items managers listed as challenges for today’s new workforce, but by how many of these items were related to time management.

Time management has always been identified as a ‘soft skill’, yet I’m not at all clear what about it is so ‘soft’. This skill may not be quantum physics or technologically related but let’s at least admit that if you don’t try understanding and working on strengthening these skills, you may be climbing up a hill when it comes to your career…especially when it comes time for a promotion.

  1. Critical Thinking/Problem-Solving

Whether you’re thinking about how to approach a strategic issue, or working through solving what seems to be a never-ending problem, it requires focus. And focus requires attention.

  • Manage interruptions from others – Other than your spouse or your boss, you need to determine who the culprits are that eat up your time because they are either: 1) poor time managers themselves or, 2) like to get quick answers. Every time you stop to answer their questions and their priorities, you step away from your own. Learn a graceful but assertive way to set boundaries.
  • Manage interruptions from yourself – You know. Surfing the net. Checking your Facebook. Gazing out the window. All of these are fine to do in moderation, but not frequently and not for long. Take a break, but ask yourself how many times a day you interrupt yourself from the focus you need to work on your priorities.

Also read: 3 Ways To Supercharge Your Time Management

  1. Communications

Meetings, email, voicemail, one-on-one, and one-on-team is how communications are defined in the world of time management. Improving performance in these areas includes:

  • For meetings, email and voicemail – Have an agenda, be specific and be brief. Always. The less time to notify someone, the less specific yet longer the information, the more likely you won’t get what you need.
  • One-on-One – The most important thing? Understand your style of communication and theirs. Adapt your style to the persons’ listening so they can hear you. Otherwise, it might sound like blah-blah-blah.
  • One-on-team – Be prepared. It’s about their time as well as yours. Set expectations for them and open up an ear by asking for their input.

Also read: 4 Reasons People Hate Going to Your Meetings

  1. Ownership

One of the biggest complaints I hear has to do with personal responsibility. This is critical in the team environments in which most companies live.

  • Do what you say you’re going to do – If you repeatedly don’t do what you say you’re going to do within the timeframe you identified, it leaves others with a compromised workload and not a very good feeling about working with you. If you own it, do it. Ignoring it doesn’t work.
  • Manage your procrastination – Delaying decisions is a habit you may have developed. It’s a way of avoiding your work…not owning it. Figure out which triggers hold you back and work towards replacing this habit with a more effective one. One step at a time.

Also read: 3 Things You Need to do to Finally Stop Procrastinating

  1. Grit

Grit is one of the most important things to learn in life. It’s about staying the course no matter what. But there are different words used to describe this skill or approach.

  • This post tells you all about the psychological aspects of resilience.
  • While this post tells you all about what it takes to have mental toughness

However you want to define it, a lot of it is needed to keep on trucking in today’s 24/7 life. Learn how to strengthen your grit ‘muscle’ and it will serve you well.

About the Author

Cynthia Kyriazis, Founder and President of Productivity Partners Inc., has provided productivity training and coaching for Fortune 500 to small business clients for over 20 years. Recently named one of “28 best online productivity experts”, her passion is teaching employees how to apply the principles of organization and time-management and to help them navigate the 24/7 demands on their time. Cynthia is set to release her second book in February 2016, Get Organized. Get Focused. Get Moving.: How to Avoid Productivity Potholes, a guide for helping business professionals avert common obstacles to productivity.