Time management - oh the words sound so simple but are yet so darn tricky. How else are there several books, infomercials, classes, and seminars dedicated to this very topic? How often do we feel like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland
singing badly along to "I'm late for a very important date..." while frantically staring at our pocket watch? We learn and adjust to suit the obstacles we face. But every so often I can swear I hear the blare of the Ringmaster's megaphone announcing me as the next act and wouldn't you know it - I'm on the tightrope.
As many of you know I started a new job at a GREAT company
and I have to say - I am probably the busiest at work I've ever been which is a GREAT sign for the market. And as many of you experience every day I usually have two periods of panic – typically 11am and 2:30pm where I am so amazingly busy that I feel as though I'm spinning plates
- but they aren't next to each other to allow for maximum spin potential. OH NO.... They are actually each on a different floor of the building. And the elevator is broken... and the stairs are filled with smoke. ok... The stairs aren't really full of smoke - by law I would have to evacuate the building and wait for the go ahead to come back in from the fire department. But you get the jist.
Here are my 10 tips for managing your day and time.
1. At the end of every day plan out the next day.
Sounds tedious yes but what time is better to figure out what you couldn't get to today and what you should focus on tomorrow. And let's face it you're excited to be headed home so you're usually in a good mood, more relaxed, and putting those tasks down for several hours from now isn't so hard. Create a template, print out a copy every day and fill in the blanks.
2. Make your day manageable.
Plan out time for each task. Do you have to devote time to training or is there something else you need to get done but can never seem to get to? Schedule it in and then DISCONNECT. Don't read your email or answer your phone. Impossible you say? Just try it once. Trust me.
3. Put the things you like doing the least, first on your list and TACKLE them
.. head on. The rest of your day will be a breeze without those issues looming over your head.
4. Always plan in 30 minutes to an hour for administrative tasks
– returning emails, checking the status of a report, filing papers, etc. at the end of the day. It's much easier to start your day and tackle number 3 if you've already gotten yourself caught up on the things that seem to take a long time while juggling plates. Trust me - if you try to file while plate spinning, it will take you much longer versus dedicating that time.
5. The things you don't get to - move to the next day.
It will get done. Now if it's an urgent matter and your boss just said "Bob this needs to be done in an hour", please don't print this blog and hand it to him and say "I'm sorry Sir but The Headhuntress told me not
to." :) Case by case basis please.
6. Take a BREAK already.
It's a proven fact that people who do not take a few minutes for themselves to move around, get some water, grab a smoke with the Ringmaster, etc. are less productive overall. It's ok to walk away for a few minutes and let me tell you - that 5-minute breather will add a lot more productivity on in the end. I schedule in a 3pm peanut butter cup break every day - boy do I look forward to those.
7. Multitasking is no longer viewed as awesome.
To a lot of employers multitasking simply means doing a few things half as well as you would have if you devoted your full attention to it. So schedule it out - 1 hour of phone calls, 1 hour of research, 1 hour of (insert task here) - versus trying to do it all at once.
8. Stick to your plan.
Perhaps enlist an office buddy who is also trying the planning strategy and play police for the other.
9. Schedule out of office appointments first thing in the morning or at the very end of the day.
There is nothing more difficult than getting back from a 1pm appointment and trying to refocus and get back on track.
10. Write it down!!
How often are we scrambling to get a few things done at the end of the day that we forgot to do earlier – if you write it down, it’s much easier to tackle, remember, check off when complete, etc.
In our pursuit of work, life, balance we often become overwhelmed by the pure amount of work we have to do. I liken it to tightrope walking and plate spinning but overall the message is still the same. If you're overwhelmed and often hallucinate the sounds of the circus (you know the song I'm talking about)
and there just aren't enough hours in the day - try managing your time differently.