Time Management – What you Need to Know
Have you ever looked up at the clock while working and said to yourself “How is it 4:30pm already? I have so much to do!” If you have, you aren’t alone. Mindlessly reacting to your day can put you in the mindset of constantly putting out fires and not proactively doing anything towards your real goals. It’s true that in some jobs, every day can be different and you never know what you may end up with, but here are some tried and true tips to help you manage your time more effectively, regardless of the situation.
- Set Goals. You can do this in the form of “To-Do” lists, or simply by prioritizing the three things you MUST get done today. Set your goals in the morning, while your mind is still fresh and not overburdened with a ton of details. Don’t make this a long wish list of things that aren’t important, set your goals so that you can meet them.
- Schedule your day (and even your week). After you have your top three things to get done that day, put a plan in place to accomplish them. Schedule times to start each, and have a rough idea of how much time you plan to spend on each task. Certain tasks will occur on the same days each week, like meetings. Put them on your calendar in advance and plan accordingly.
- Plan for interruptions. Some days will have constant interruptions and some days will have minimal. Don’t over schedule yourself to plan for each minute of your whole work day. Give yourself some time in between your planned goals/tasks for life and work interruptions to happen. Identify your time wasters and avoid them in the future.
- Use calendars wisely. My life changed when I started visually tracking my appointments and daily goals on my desk calendar. You can easily do this through your Outlook calendar too and have reminders pop-up 15 minutes in advance. For me, I work best on paper, and I like being able to visually see ‘at a glance’ what I have to do yet, what is outstanding, and what is due soon. I also get an extreme sense of accomplishment from crossing things off of my lists.
- Wear a watch. Wearing a watch each day holds me accountable for meeting times, deadlines and my own personal daily goals. Getting sucked into a conversation with a co-worker could easily eat time from your day, but a quick glance at my watch can keep me moving forward productively with my day.
- Arrive Early but DON’T stay late. Getting started on your day early, when your brain is fresh and ready to tackle the day is the best way to get a jump on your day. However, knowing when to walk away and call it a day is another strength. Trying to cram more work into a day that was already busy and productive makes little sense when you are not at your peak performance. End of your day typically coincides with burn-out and needing some time to re-charge. The positive to this is, you may come back at a problem with a fresh and creative solution the next day.
- Keep your workspace clean and organized. A cluttered desk can cause confusion and make it hard to find things you need to be effective. Clear off your desk at the end of each day so that you can start fresh the next morning.
Time management is an art, not a slam dunk. It can take time and repetition of behaviors before you fully embrace and practice effective time management. Give a few of these tips a shot and see if it makes your work day easier to manage. What are some of your time-wasters? How do you manage them?[hupso]