Education competencies: Time management

This competency is one in a set of complete functional and behavioral qualities that, when fully realized, can help lead to professional success. View all competencies.


Uses his or her time effectively and efficiently; concentrates his or her efforts on the most important priorities; adeptly handles several tasks at once.

Proficiency level

Level 1: Basic Level 2: Intermediate Level 3: Advanced Level 4: Expert
Plans the use of his or her time Uses his or her time effectively and efficiently Places a high value on his or her time and plans tasks accordingly Is an expert on efficient use of time and energy of self and others
Concentrates his or her efforts on priorities Concentrates his or her efforts on the most important priorities Makes quality time for the most important priorities Thoughtfully plans his or her schedule and skillfully discriminates between the urgent and the important, often accommodating a broad time frame
Completes one thing before beginning something else Can multitask Adeptly handles several tasks at once Easily handles multiple tasks at the same time, while considering plans for future tasks
Attends to the normal activities of his or her role Attends to a broad range of activities Looks ahead and doesn’t get stuck in the here and now, while attending to a broad range of activities Considers the short, medium, and long-term, while attending to a broad range of activities

Overdoing time management

  • May be impatient with other people's agenda and pace
  • May not take the time to stop and smell the roses
  • May not give people rapport time with him or her to get comfortable

Essential questions

To improve your proficiency, ask yourself the following questions on a regular basis:
  • When reviewing my daily and weekly schedule, do I allot ample time for the important and balance it with the urgent?
  • What on my schedule today do I need to revise, add and/or eliminate?
  • What future needs and events must I incorporate now into my long range plan?
  • Am I committed to saying "no" to extraneous requests or to asking the requester to choose what they would like me to cancel or delay in favor of their request?
  • Am I committed to staying on track with my schedule, cutting conversations or tasks short where necessary to move on?
  • What tasks can I delegate to someone else?
To avoid overdoing time management, ask yourself:
  • Am I too bound to my tasks and not scheduling time for myself?
  • Am I scheduling my time too tightly, not providing opportunity for personal interaction with others?
  • Am I impatient with others who seem to move too slowly?

Interview questions

  • Please describe how you planned your use of time over the past several weeks. What methods did you use? Please share some decisions you were faced with when allocating your time.
  • Describe a period of time when you identified priorities and consciously kept non-critical issues and distractions from interfering with your progress. How did you stay focused? What was the result?
  • All of us have to multitask at times. Please describe a situation or period of time in which you were most challenged with handling multiple tasks simultaneously. What were the tasks and how did you handle them? What were the results?
  • Think back to a period of time when you had to complete a broad range of activities. Describe the activities and explain which ones were a normal part of your role and which were unique. Which activities were of a short term nature and which were longer term? How did you go about attending to multiple activities without "dropping the ball"?

Learning on the job

Learning on your own: These self-development remedies will help you build your skill(s).
  • Set goals for yourself: Set goals and objectives to achieve, and establish a system of accountability and measurement of your progress in reaching them. Determine priorities based on your goals.
  • Lay out tasks and work on a timeline: Plan thoroughly before acting. Determine your goals, timeline, resources and support, and sequence of events. Ask others for their comments.
  • Manage your time efficiently: Value your time, and plan the use of it accordingly.
  • Create more time for yourself: Plan your time and set priorities before acting.
  • Give away as much time-consuming work as you can: Delegate all things that don’t need to be done by you. Empower others to do them.
  • Find someone in your environment who is better at time management than you: Pattern your activities after theirs and ask them for feedback.
  • Be careful not to be guided by just what you like or don't like to do: Incorporate data and intuition as well as feelings to determine your activity.
  • Be sensitive to the time of others: Be purposefully efficient in the use of your time and that of others.
  • Be willing to constructively say "no": Ask others to prioritize their requests of you, letting them know a choice for one thing may affect the performance of another.
  • Shut down transactions: Proactively end conversations and move on when it's time to do so.
Learning from develop-in-place assignments: These part-time develop-in-place assignments will help you build your skill(s).
  • Plan an off-site meeting, conference, or event.
  • Work on a crisis management team.
  • Launch a new program, procedure, or activity.
  • Teach a course, seminar, or workshop on something you don't know well.
  • Take on a task you dislike or hate to do.
  • Build a multifunctional team to tackle a common problem.
Learning more from your plan: These additional remedies will help make this development plan more effective for you.
  • Learning to learn better:
    • Teach others something you don't know well. Pick something new, different, and unfamiliar.
    • Study people who have successfully done what you need to do. Interview them. Summarize their key strategies, tactics, and insights.
    • Commit to a tight time frame to accomplish something. Establish a firm plan and stick to it.
  • Learning from experience, feedback, and other people:
    • Get feedback from your direct reports. Set a positive tone, and don't retaliate if you don’t agree. Establish a firm plan and stick to it.
  • Learning from courses
    • Take a course designed to offer feedback, such as one on how to develop negotiating skills or influence people.

    Recommended readings

    • Allen, David.Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. New York: Penguin Books, 2003.
    • Ash, David W., and Vlad G. Dabija.Planning for Real Time Event Response Management. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000.
    • Byfield, Marilyn.It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys: The Seven-Step Path to Becoming Truly Organized. New York: Viking Press, 2003.
    • Carrison, Dan.Deadline! How Premier Organizations Win the Race Against Time. New York: AMACOM, 2003.
    • Drucker, Peter F.Managing in a Time of Great Change. Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2002.
    • Duncan, Peggy.Put Time Management to Work: Get Organized, Streamline Processes, Use the Right Technology. PSD Press, 2002.
    • Emmett, Rita.The Procrastinator’s Handbook: Mastering the Art of Doing It Now. New York: Walker & Company, 2000.
    • Fine, Charles H.Clockspeed: Winning Industry Control in the Age of Temporary Advantage. Reading, MA: Perseus Books, 1998.
    • Gleeson, Kerry.The Personal Efficiency Program: How to Get Organized to Do More Work in Less Time. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2000.
    • Hutchings, Patricia J.Managing Workplace Chaos: Solutions for Managing Information, Paper, Time, and Stress. New York: AMACOM, 2002.
    • Jennings, Jason, and Laurence Haughton.It’s Not the Big That Eat the Small…It’s the Fast That Eat the Slow. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.
    • Koch Richard.The 80/20 Principle: The Secret of Achieving More with Less. New York: Currency/Doubleday, 1998.
    • MacKenzie, Alec.The Time Trap: The Classic Book on Time Management. Fine Communications, 2002.
    • Morgenstern, Julie.Time Management from the Inside Out: The Foolproof System for Taking Control of Your Schedule—and Your Life. New York: Henry Holt, 2000.
    • Panella, Vince.The 26 Hour Day: How to Gain at Least Two Hours a Day with Time Control. Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press, 2002.
    • Pickering, Peg, and Jonathan Clark.How to Make the Most of Your Workday. Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press, 2001.
    • Roesch, Roberta.Time Management for Busy People. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998.
    • Silber, Lee.Time Management for the Creative Person. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1998.
    • Stalk, George Jr., and Thomas M. Hout.Competing Against Time: How Time-Based Competition Is Reshaping Global Markets. New York: The Free Press, 2003.
    • Tracy, Brian.Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done In Less Time. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2001.
    • Winston, Stephanie.The Organized Executive: The Classic Program for Productivity: New Ways to Manage Time, People, and the Digital Office. New York: Warner Books, 2001.

    Next steps

    Copyright © 1992, 1996, 2001-2003 by Robert W. Eichinger and Michael M. Lombardo. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This work is derived from the LEADERSHIP ARCHITECT® Competency Library developed and copyrighted by Robert W. Eichinger and Michael M. Lombardo for Lominger Limited, Inc.

    This competency is one in a set of complete functional and behavioral qualities that, when fully realized, can help lead to professional success.