Developing effective time management strategies in any environment is always going to be a challenge. When it comes to managing your time within the workplace, this is further complicated by the common misconception that multi-tasking is and should be the norm.
You find yourself swamped with constant interruptions from an over-bearing boss and inconsiderate colleagues who drain you of your time. Then there’s the steady stream of phone calls, the emails that beg for an immediate response and the clients who want everything done yesterday.
Although you may feel there is little you can do to manage these daily disturbances, you ultimately have control over your time in each of these scenarios. It’s simply a matter of implementing a few time management strategies.
Plan the night before
Make it part of your ritual to end each working day by preparing your to-do list for the following day. Write down all the tasks you need to complete, allocating a set amount of time to each one.
By planning the night before, your unconscious mind has the opportunity to process and organise your workload. You begin to focus on your tasks prior to even starting your day.
Prune your to-do list
All too often a to-do list can quickly turn into a dumping ground for everything that needs to be achieved in any given day.
Take the time to review your list and place each item in order of importance and urgency. Maintain a core list of at least 3-5 things that must be done that day and do everything in your power to complete them.
Determine level of urgency
If your boss or clients’ come to you with a list of urgent projects, ask them to confirm which of those assignments have the most immediate need. Formulate an action plan, in agreement with your boss or client, to complete those projects within a time frame that is mutually agreeable.
By taking ownership of an activity in this way, you will reduce the likelihood of becoming overwhelmed.
Escape from your desk
If you work in an open plan office, the chances are you are prone to multiple distractions and interruptions. Whenever you are working on a time sensitive piece of work, take yourself off to a different location; somewhere away from your desk where you can work in peace.
Perhaps book some time in a meeting room or grab a spare desk in a different department. Try spending an hour or two working from your local coffee shop even. (It worked for J. K. Rowling) Do whatever works best for you.
Don’t over commit
While you may want to make a good impression on your boss and co-workers, if you continually volunteer to do extra tasks, you will eventually burn out. Carefully assess whether you have the capacity to work on another project before offering your assistance.
If asked to take on extra responsibilities that you feel will over burden you, politely decline. Explain that you are busy at the moment, but may be able to help out at a later date.
Adopting workable time management strategies is the key to controlling how you spend your time in the office. When you start to take charge of your environment in this way, you will begin to develop better working practices and improved levels of productivity.
Till Next Time
The Time Doctor – Mike Gardner