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8 Tips on Time Management for Job Seekers

8 Tips on Time Management for Job Seekers

Overview

8 Tips on Time Management for Job Seekers

Let’s talk about time management for job seekers. Don’t feel like reading? Listen here!

Some days we’re better at managing time than others. We’ve all had days when our time management skills aren’t exactly exemplary.

You have great intentions. You plan on working for two solid hours before tackling home tasks or personal business. But before heading to the home office, you unload the top rack of the dishwasher, move a load of clothes to the dryer, and make yourself a cup of tea. Tea in hand, you head to the office. On the way, you realize you need to drop by the bank later. You gather up checks you need to deposit from three different places and place them by your keys. You finally make it to the office and briefly check the weather. You see that rain is coming, so you hop up, grab your sneakers, and go for a quick walk before the storm arrives.

After an hour’s worth of personal business and home tasks, you find yourself plopping down into your desk chair, exhausted before you begin. Your to-do list didn’t shrink, but the time available to work did. How can you avoid falling into this trap? How can you set yourself up for success? How does time management impact career success or failure?

Why Prioritize Time Management for Job Seekers

You should prioritize time management because employers prioritize it. Time management for job seekers is a soft skill, and soft skills are in demand in the workplace. In fact, many experts rank time management as one of the most highly sought soft skills by employers.

If you’re a job seeker, demonstrate great time management skills and talk about how you demonstrate those skills during job interviews. Time management is a transferable skill. Whether you’re a teacher, a manufacturing engineer, or a college student, you can use and hone time management skills in every workplace setting.

tips time management for job seekers

If you’re happily employed, you’ll meet and exceed your manager’s expectations when you manage time well. You will set clear priorities, achieve goals, and stay within budget constraints of time, resources, and cost.

In addition, when you become better at managing time, you will have much more peace and less stress in your life. Amazingly, you’ll get more done in less time and find that you have time to spare. Whether in your professional or personal life, you will have developed an ease about you. It may sound like an impossible dream, but people who manage time well know these things to be true.

Time Management Strategies to Try

You can spend hours reading about time management for job seekers. But you need to spend your time well right now. How can you do that?

Pick two of the suggested solutions for great time management listed below. Apply them daily for 30 days. After implementing and attempting these solutions repeatedly for at least one month, your overall time management skills will have vastly improved.

Prioritize

Before you do anything else, prioritize. Look at what’s on your plate. Determine which to-do list items are essential or very important to you. Move those to the top of the list.

Think about which time of day you’re most productive, feel the most energetic, and seem most focused. This is your peak time of day for performing the most difficult, brain-intensive tasks. 

Taking a one-hour online training course required by your employer is essential, but is it difficult? Probably not. Move this type of task to a time of day when you have less energy and focus. Reviewing a strategic plan and making suggestions for improvement? This is brain-intensive. You need to be at your best to do this, so schedule it during that peak time slot.

If you feel tired all day long and can’t identify a time of great focus or energy, you may need to reevaluate your own self-care and wellness habits. To effectively organize and prioritize your tasks, consider using a task management software. These tools can help you visually arrange your tasks by importance and deadlines, ensuring that your focus is directed towards what matters most. 

Track Your Time

Once you’ve set priorities, also consider how you spend your time. Better yet, track your time all day long for at least one week.

You can inventory time in an app, on a calendar, or in a spreadsheet. Ultimately, what matters is that you keep very precise records of what you do and how long you spend doing it. When you review the time records at the end of the week, you may be surprised to find you spent nine hours checking email rather than the “just a few minutes a day” you thought you were spending.

time management skills

Just Say No

Want to know one of the biggest time sucks in the workplace? Saying yes too often and too easily.

Obviously, say yes when asked to perform a job duty listed in your job description. When asked to perform additional duties, tasks, or services, consider whether you should say yes.

Go back to your plate. What’s on it? It can only hold so much before it is overfilled, and you are overstuffed. If your plate is full already, you must say no unless you remove something else.

Also, consider the value of saying no for the sake of preserving time for yourself as a buffer between tasks. If you agree to make coffee every morning before the team meeting, you’re giving away 5-10 minutes of your time daily. What else could you do during that five minutes? What could you read? Could you take a short walk to ramp up your energy and heighten your focus? Could you respond to urgent emails, reducing your own stress during the team meeting?

Saying no is necessary to establish healthy workplace boundaries. You are responsible for setting and maintaining your own boundaries. Don’t give anyone permission to pressure you into moving the boundary line for their own benefit.

Batch It

Batching, or completing similar tasks one after another, is a smart way to manage time well. If you manage social media, for example, creating two weeks’ worth of graphics is more efficient than creating them one at a time as needed. This is because our brains get into graphic-creating mode, and we can stay there and build momentum as we complete all ten graphics.

If you aren’t accustomed to working this way, it may take time to adjust to batching tasks rather than completing a process in step-by-step fashion. If you give it a try, though, you may become more productive and efficient when you batch.

Create an Organized Workspace

If you’re trying to maintain an organized brain, create an organized workspace. It is scientifically proven that clutter and disorganization in a room prohibit creativity, reduce focus, and increase anxiety. Creating an uncluttered workspace decreases stress, improves focus, and produces energy.

Spending five minutes each day tidying up your office ensures greater focus and productivity. Spending an entire day decluttering and organizing does, too. This is a time investment that pays off handsomely.

Work Ahead

One of the best ways to avoid rushed and frazzled work days is to work ahead on future projects, tasks, and events. Put another way, avoid procrastination.

There’s a key reason for doing this: X factors. There are endless X factors when it comes to managing time. Unexpected accidents and mistakes made by yourself or others. Traffic jams. Technological snafus. Long lines at your favorite lunch spot.

You lose time when things don’t go as planned, when things break, and when others interrupt.

time management for job seeskers

The best way to buffer against this time loss is to work in advance. If you complete all project tasks three days before launch, you will find you have time to manage every single mistake and snafu that comes your way the day of project implementation. You will become incredibly flexible and agile, and that’s another soft skill employers are looking for.

One Bite at a Time

A common mistake we make when attempting to manage time well is to bite off more than we can chew. Instead of focusing on writing an article, we attempt to simultaneously talk to our child, respond to an urgent email, engage on LinkedIn, and write the article. The result? Not one thing gets our full attention, yet we find ourselves fully spent.

Pick one task, focus on it, and complete it (or at least work at it for a set period of time). Then move on to another task. There is no such thing as multitasking. There is only multi-failing and half-completion.

Stop Commuting

Do you want to carve out an extra hour each day to spend working on an important project, interacting with your family members, or studying to earn an additional license or degree? Then stop spending that hour commuting to and from the office.

Working remotely may be a great way to carve out more time for those priorities you have set. Not only will you reduce drive time, but you’ll also gain a better work-life balance with more flexibility in taking care of personal tasks and scheduling appointments.

If you aren’t sure if remote work is right for you, take this quiz. And if you’re ready to make the leap to working remotely, check out job postings on Lensa.

End Results of Better Time Management for Job Seekers

After implementing at least two of these suggestions for one month, you’ll find it easier to implement more of them. It’s easier to manage your time well when you are not frazzled, running late, and feeling overwhelmed. But first you’ve got to tackle the monster of poor time management head on.

You’ll be glad you did.

Bethany Wallace
Bethany Wallace
Bethany Wallace partners with mission-minded organizations to build better workplaces through soft skills solutions. Bethany aids leaders in strengthening workplace relationships through communications consulting, training, executive coaching, keynote presentations, & career coaching. Bethany enjoys presenting research at conferences and contributes regularly to major publications & recognized podcasts, including Glassdoor, College Recruiter, Zip Recruiter, Jobscan, FlexJobs, the New York Daily News, BusinessTech, Human Resources Online, Life After Teaching, Love Your Story, The Conversation Guy (10 Minute Mindset), Everyday People Podcast, The Success Chronicles, and more.

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