Sometimes, it's the skills that pertain specifically to your job that allow you to advance professionally. But often, displaying solid soft skills – meaning, those that apply to any job -- is just as important. And one soft skill you definitely shouldn't neglect is time management.

Managing your time effectively reduces your chances of missing important deadlines, producing sloppy work, and incurring your manager's wrath. If you've struggled with time management, here are a few ways you can get better at it.

Man putting his head down on a stack of papers, with other papers laid out in front of him


1. Learn to set priorities

You can only add so many hours to your workday before reaching the point of compromising your health and falling behind on other responsibilities in life. As such, you'll need to make the most of the time you have in the office, and that means always making sure to get your most important tasks done before moving on to items that are less essential. Get in the habit of setting job-related priorities on a daily basis. Writing up a quick to-do list in order of importance is probably the easiest way to go, and from there, you can tackle items in order of necessity.

2. Find the right tools

Though a written to-do list could help you better make good use of your time at work, sometimes, it pays to get a bit more sophisticated. This especially holds true if you're tasked with managing projects with different moving parts. Thankfully, there's a host of tools at your disposal that can make time management easier, from Trello to Jira to Microsoft Project. These tools can help manage workflow and keep deadlines on your radar.

3. Eliminate distractions

You'll have an easier go at managing your time at work if you're able to get rid of some of the distractions that normally throw you off course. Figure out what your greatest points of distraction are, whether it's your chatty officemate or general background noise, and find ways to combat them. That could involve moving seats to a more isolated corner of the office, or investing in an effective pair of noise-canceling headphones. Another common source of distraction? Your own cellphone. Turning it off during the day could help you better focus on the tasks you're trying to accomplish and avoid wasting time.

4. Mimic the pros

Maybe there are a couple of people on your team who excel at time management. If so, why not pick their brains and see what tactics work for them? A little advice from your colleagues could prove invaluable, and chances are, they'll be happy to share. Your own manager could also be a solid resource in this regard, so don't hesitate to seek help if time management has been an issue for you.

The better you are at managing your time while you're in the office, the more successful at work you're likely to be. Make an effort to maximize the hours you spend doing your job, because it could help you not only advance your career, but also, avoid stress in the process.