5 Time Management Skills All Successful People Have


Time management skills are necessary for success in any form of business, but what do these skills look like?  Everyone knows that they are important, yet it seems like an ever-changing list of strategies that one uses in order to maintain efficiency.  So, here is a concise list of the skills we have seen the most successful people use.

1. Start & End each Day w/ the 80/20 Principle

The 80/20 Principle states that 80% of our work comes from 20% of our effort.  So creating a time management structure that allow us to be the most efficient with our time is a highly useful skill.

We all plan our day, to some degree, but the time spent regarding the how, where, and when of our schedule often impedes us from accomplishing our daily goals.  Our calendar gives us ideas of what needs to be done and where we need to be, but it does not help us prepare for how we will accomplish our daily goals.  More often than not, it prevent us from prioritizing our goals, and shifts our thought to the “all” of what we need to do, and that overwhelms us.

If we start and end each day by organizing our thoughts on paper (I use a whiteboard), our tasks become clear, and we can easily see what we should focus on as our primary goals.  A key factor during this time is to avoid any distractions (checking your email or phone) – I’ve lost hours of time due to these time thieves and distractors.  Once we have primary goals, we can easily apply the 80/20 rule and focus our energy efficiently.  Additionally this will allow flexibility in our schedule if we need to reprioritize our list.

2. Say “No” More Often

Saying no is difficult, but it is necessary to be efficient with your time (click to tweet).  If you are a “yes person” there will be a never ending supply of busy work, which will keep you from the meaningful work that needs to be done.  The habit is especially true for attending events.  If you do not directly benefit from the event, don’t go – your time is better spent relaxing and thinking about the next day’s tasks

By saying, “No,” this allows you to be selective with your work, which will then increase the efficiency and quality of your work.  Similarly, you will also find that you have more energy to solve the problems you originally set out to answer.

This however, is not an invitation to be exclusive with your time, rather it is an acknowledgement that your time is valuable, and that you should be protective of your to-do list.  Saying “No” allows a team to be honest with their work, and for the the problems that require a collaborative effort to be easily recognized.

3. Be Honest w/ Yourself About Your Work Patterns

Retaining focus is often difficult, especially with the distractions that currently exist – social media, cell phone, email, etc. These distractions can be even worse if you have a short attention span and seek near-constant stimulation.  In order to be the most efficient in our work process, we need to recognize our work patterns, and be honest with our abilities during the workday.

There are times when we need to take a quick break, look at the big picture, evaluate our current assignment’s importance, and to match our energy level with the difficulty our task at the time. There are also times when looking at a cat video for 5 minutes may be precisely the break we need to get over writers block or an after lunch slump. If we can be honest with ourselves and recognize our patterns and habits, it will allow us to get more done, decrease frustration/stress, and effectively meet deadlines.

4. Allow Time For Interruptions

Interruptions at work are hard to avoid and costly to our efficiency.  When we are interrupted, it takes time to respond and to recover our thought process.  While some disruptions are necessary due to last minute changes, they should be infrequent and done only when necessary.  The most widely used practice to avoid unwarranted intrusions is to create a group of  times that you are available and unavailable. These times can function as “open office hours” and you should welcome others to come to you with anything that is on their mind.  This will help your team, as well as yourself, to be the most efficient with potential interruptions.

If this practice is used, we need to make sure that the “unavailable” time periods are protected and will be more productive.  Using email auto-responders, setting phones to airplane mode, and working in a private space should be encouraged.

5. Master the Short Meeting

Just as we need to avoid being interrupted, we are also obligated work with our team.  Delegating work appropriately will allow a team to effectively complete projects, but If one person takes on too much work, the entire project will suffer.  A good team is receptive to its members, and will press for the best work while providing help.

Using our co-workers to build on our ideas helps us bypass creative road-blocks, and if there is ever confusion in a project, schedule a short meeting (7 – 11 minutes) with a coworker to help clear things up.  The key to effective collaboration is keeping our interactions short (click to tweet), which will allow us to get the information we need and then get back to work.  This is why scheduling a meeting for an odd length of time, such as 7 or 11 minutes, will solidify the idea that time is precious and must not be wasted on problems that can be resolved quickly.


Implementing and honing these habits takes time and energy, and we were tired of tools that took more time to learn than apply. So, we built our own. If any of the above tactics resonate with you, we encourage you to beta test our app to see if we can help improve your time management and ability to host an efficient meeting.