Soft Skill: Time Management

Studio shot of young woman working in office covered with adhesive notes
Getty Images

Be honest, did you come to this page because you're avoiding work?

Time is evasive. It's easy to let slip away from you when you're mired in work or when you stumble into an obstacle that throws off your focus. To make matters worse, most of us fall victim to the "planning fallacy," the tendency to overrate our abilities and underestimate the time it takes to complete a task – even if we've done it before.

It takes some planning and lot of discipline to stay on track. People are much more easily motivated to complete a task that has an immediate reward. That's why those short-term tasks on your to-do list are tempting when you have a large project looming over you. Because the payoff of finishing a trivial task is easier to envision and, therefore, to actualize, people tend to tackle these first even though the reward of completing a major task is far greater. Many minor tasks also tend to carry a sense of urgency that prompts us into action. We are hardwired to address immediate queries, like instant messages and "quick questions," but are more likely to postpone important things, like a presentation or year-end report.

At risk of enabling any more procrastination, AOL Jobs presents a list of the best time-management methods and tools. Try them and let us know how it works out in the comments.

> Find a job as a manager

Just get it done

8 tips to get much more done
In this list of productivity guidelines, career expert Miriam Salpeter recommends to forgo multitasking and to use social media as a reward in breaks.

The Pomodoro Technique
This method was developed in the 1980s and named after a tomato-shaped kitchen timer. The idea is to cut up your work into 25-minute increments and space them out with short and long breaks. Many people swear by this.

The do-nothing method for procrastination
This trick is so simple it's brilliant. Try it next time you consider cleaning your apartment instead of doing the work that pays to keep you in it.

> Find a job as an executive assistant

Much to-do about nothing

Overwhelmed? Subtract items from your to-do list
A Zen productivity blog recommends whittling down your to-do list when it gets exhaustive because it says, "Continual addition isn't sustainable or desirable." Identify your priorities and cut the excess.

The history and best practices of the to-do list
Italian philosopher Umberto Eco said humans like lists because they "make infinity comprehensible." But it's not as easy as scribbling down every nagging thought. As Brain Pickings' Maria Popova said, the list must contain "a few very specific, actionable, non-conflicting items."

All work, no play

Talking to your boss when you're overwhelmed
If you're buckling under your workload but your boss just keeps piling on the work, don't assume that he or she knows you're struggling. Your silence may signal that you're doing just fine.

A CEO's lessons on spending time wisely
Digitaria CEO Dan Khabie adopted the philosophy to "pay yourself first" in the currency that matters the most to him: time. To do that, he figured out how to save it.

6 ways to renew your energy
No matter how competence you are, you just won't get much done if you're tired. There are a number of things you can do to keep away fatigue.

When you just need to say no
Saying no to the right things, like distractions and unnecessary commitments, is a great skill. But did you know that the language you use to dissuade yourself from doing something influences your likelihood of following through?

Plan your weekend to enjoy it more
Plan some non-work aspects of your life, too. You don't have to schedule your whole weekend, but outlining a few "anchor points" will give you something to look forward to, says happiness authority Laura Vanderkam.

> Find a job as an event planner

Photo source: Getty Images

Check out more quotes on time management here.
Read Full Story