It can sometimes feel like there’s a lot to fit into your working day: a stack of emails, meeting after meeting, end of month reports. You name it and it’s probably filling up your schedule. It can be easy to feel like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day and the tasks are stretching you well beyond your limits.
Taking control of your schedule and managing your time better is the solution to getting back that feeling that you’re on top of your tasks. To help you along, we’ve put together these handy tips to make sure you’re managing your time as efficiently as possible.
Looking at your to-do list and seeing an overwhelming number of things can be stressful to say the least. Consider setting up a scale of priorities. This way, you can clearly see what needs doing urgently and what doesn’t need doing yet. Once you receive a task, give it a priority rating – from low to high (include as many as you want in between). You should find that those ten tasks that need doing suddenly look like one urgent task for today and a few in their you don’t need to worry about.
2. Could This Meeting be an Email?
We’ve all sat in meetings and thought to ourselves “is this really necessary?”. Meetings can take up large chunks of our day and keep us away from getting important tasks done, sometimes with very little gain. If you’re in the habit of arranging meetings, maybe take a moment before booking to think about exactly how necessary it is, could you give the same message in an email? Similarly, if you’re invited to a meeting and aren’t convinced how much you’ll get out of it, pop the organiser an email saying you’re going to sit it out. You can even ask for minutes if you think you might miss something.
3. Plan Ahead
Instead of coming into the office on a morning with a big pile of work to do and no idea where to start, spend the last ten minutes of the day before booking your time. Use a tool like Outlook calendar or, if you’re old school, buy a diary. Book in your time for each task (remembering that priority scale). This will give you a visual representation of how your day will look and when you expect to get things finished. When you’re doing this it’s important to remember that unexpected things often come up. You’ll probably have to be flexible, but the important thing is you’ll have some order to your day.
4. Don’t Fear the Word ‘No’
Being polite is lovely, but it’s not always the best way to make sure you’re managing your time well. If someone asks you to take on an extra task and you don’t have capacity, make sure you give them a resounding ‘no’. The same applies to those wanting to borrow you for a quick meeting. It might seem like you’re doing the right thing being flexible and accommodating to others, but it only works in the short-term. For those people you’re missing deadlines and letting down, they won’t be quite as impressed.
5. Set Your Goals
What are you planning to achieve? What are the overall goals of your employer? How about clients? Taking into account the aims of each of the stakeholders in your working life should give you some clarity over what’s important. Make a list of your main goals at work and compare every task that you do to those, if it doesn’t fit then there’s a chance that you’re wasting your time. Maybe it’s helping a colleague out who’s snowed under, it might be a nice thing to do but if it’s affecting your work then it’s a bad idea. If something comes in that isn’t one of your goals, consider delegating it out to someone else.
Have you figured out the perfect time management techniques for your working day? Let us know on Twitter @viking_chat.