Do you have trouble managing assignments, projects, and tasks at work?
Would you like to enhance and improve upon your ability to turn your assignments in on time?
One of the best things you can do for your career is to learn how to properly manage your time.
It doesn’t matter where you work, what job you have, or what types of responsibilities you hold: time management affects us all.
In this post, I offer five useful tips to help you improve your time management skills at work.
You can make use of one or more of these tips to give your time management skills a helpful boost.
View the workday as a finite amount of time.
Unfortunately, it’s all too common to find people working later and later hours. While there are rare times when it is necessary to wrap-up tasks after hours, this shouldn’t be a normal occurrence. Does staying around to “finish that task” after hours sound familiar? If so, you may be needlessly expanding your regular work hours on a daily basis, without even realizing it!
Instead of viewing your workday as a flexible, expanding unit of time, view it for what it is: a finite unit of time. When you do so, you realize you don’t have all the time in the world to complete your work. You’ll have to be selective about which tasks you’ll work on, and when.
You may need to hone your decision-making skills, delegate work appropriately, and say “no” to non-urgent requests or meetings. Not only will you do be doing everything in your power to help you get your work done during the workday, but you’ll be able to leave work on time.
Move forward with those assignments.
Do you wait until the very last-minute to begin an assignment? Treating a new assignment as an afterthought doesn’t help much when it comes to completing your work. Instead of sweeping those new assignments under the rug, put them at the forefront in your day-to-day schedule.
One way to do this is to reevaluate your work assignments. Make a list of each of your assignments and include the due date for each. You can then evaluate which assignments are urgent, and adjust your work plans as necessary. Another tip is to schedule time into your calendar to become more familiar with the assignment and start planning. You may also find it helpful to begin working on one small task related to the assignment in order to get the ball rolling and break through the wall of procrastination.
Learn how to master the waiting game.
Waiting for a reply, be it a return phone call, email, quote or referral can be time-consuming. And of course, we all know that slow days at work are bound to happen sooner or later. Why not take steps to make sure you aren’t wholly inconvenienced by these periods of time? Taking small “backup” actions now can help you maintain your productivity levels later.
One way to do this is to add check-in reminders to your calendar to follow-up with people you’ve previously contacted via phone, email, or in-person. You can set any time duration you’d like for your reminders: be it a few days or several weeks. Should someone get back to you in advance of your selected date, you can simply ignore or remove the reminder from your schedule. Add these reminders into your calendar by hand, or set automatic recurring reminders for yourself.
The other method is to create a task list or project review checklist for yourself. This is perfect for when your workload is light, or when you are waiting for other components of a project to come together. For example, you could put together a list of office administration items to attend to on those slow days, such as filing, archiving records, decluttering your workstation, and deleting emails.
Take note of completed tasks.
Ever wonder how you spend your time at work? One easy way to answer this question is to track your work tasks during the day. This little exercise can be extremely eye-opening as it forces you to really pay attention to what you’ve accomplished…or not.
The process is simple. At the top of every hour, record the tasks you’ve worked on in the past hour. You can use pen and paper or record your tasks in a digital calendar or app. Now, take an honest look at your results. What tasks did you accomplish? What didn’t you accomplish? Are you surprised by your results? What do you think prevented you from accomplishing your work?
Perhaps you didn’t budget enough time to write that report, collate those stacks of papers, or hold that phone meeting. Maybe you spent a good chunk of the morning checking your email and cell phone, and were constantly interrupted by people stopping by your desk. Having solid data on hand allows you to learn from your mistakes, and make better time management choices in future. You may decide to add in more time than you need to work on an individual task, focus on one task at a time, and eliminate distractions from your workspace as best you can.
Allocate wrap-up time at the end of the day.
It’s important to dedicate several minutes at the end of the day to wrap up your work. Why? Well, there’s a few good reasons for that. This practice allows you to review what you’ve accomplished during the day, to clean up your work area, and make necessary plans for tomorrow. It’s a convenient and practical way for you to take stock of the workday and your schedule as a whole, and ensure you are ready to hit the ground running the following morning.
Try wrapping up items within the last fifteen to thirty minutes of your day. You should already have a good idea as to the steps you’ll need to take to ensure things are in order before you leave for the day. For example, if you were processing invoices, you would save your work and log out of any computer programs, collect and store relevant files, and so on. And if you were tinkering with some new concept designs for a product layouts, you might gather your sketches, make a couple of notes for yourself and store everything in a file in your desk, so you can easily find your place the next morning.
How about you? What time management skill do you need to improve upon? Which of these tips do you think you’ll try out at your place of work? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!