Time; there never seems to be enough. It’s the one resource we can’t get more of, and it’s our most valuable resource. You must be able to manage your time effectively and efficiently. So, how do you get started?
Planning out how you want to manage your time takes, well, time, but it’s worth it! Recently, I stumbled upon a few articles that helped me figure out how to better manage my time:
- 3 Rules to Work By – Elizabeth Grace Saunders: This article focuses on how you should prioritize your responsibilities both at work and at home. It is aimed at entrepreneurs, but the tips can help anyone. The big takeaway is to develop a priorities-based decision-making process. This will help you filter out important requests vs. not important requests. The article is in an easy-to-read format, so you can get through it quickly.
- 10 Time Management Tips That Work – Joe Mathews, Don Debolt and Deb Percival: I found some of the tips in the article to be helpful, but the most helpful suggestion was to plot out what you actually get done in a day. If you feel like time is slipping by and you’re not getting anything accomplished, then take note of how long it takes you to complete that excel report, or create the meeting agenda. Not only will this help you in the future understand how long each task takes, but it’ll help you see where time may be wasted. I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for checking Facebook or Twitter for a quick brain break, but you shouldn’t be on there for more than five minutes at a time. This little technique might surprise you!
- Surprising Secret to Time Management – Geoffrey James: My favorite tip in this article has to be that you don’t want to just list out your tasks and do them in order; you really want to think about the importance of completing each task. The example given in the article is which task reigns supreme: writing a report or contacting a client? If you aren’t sure, this article might help you prioritize your to-do list in an even more impactful manner.
For me, the easiest way for me to prioritize my projects is by deadline (no-brainer), by identifying tasks within a larger project that have upcoming deadlines instead of just focusing on the bigger project, and by considering the impact of each item. Each Monday during my commute into work I plot out what I want to accomplish each day of the week. When I get to work, I write it out on a list, and start to tackle as much as I can. Lists are my go-to for time management (and who doesn’t love crossing off a task?). I’ve found that if I take this approach I can quickly get through my task list earlier in the week and try to leave my Friday’s open for any last-minute requests that came through or to start planning for the following week.
I also keep a separate list on my desk for looming home/life deadlines. This way, if I’m on a conference call and suddenly I remember that I have to get in touch with a plumber for that leaky toilet, I can jot it down. This helps to allow you to concentrate on work. By the end of the day I leave work with a list of life tasks for me to handle that evening.
For you procrastinators, it’s time to ante-up and just do those projects you’ve been putting off. Usually when I’m dreading the start a project, I make up (in my mind) how convoluted and time-consuming the project is when it actually takes a few short minutes or hours of concentrated thinking. Crossing that line item off of the list is incredibly rewarding.
So what works for you – are you list-oriented? Do you block your calendar for different projects? Let us know in the comments!