I can’t be the only one who wakes up in the morning, and thinks about work and feels completely overwhelmed. And the day hasn’t even started! After months of feeling this way, I started doing something about it by focusing on my Time Management.
Once I decided to do something about it, it was simply a matter of focus. I started with figuring out a few habits that will help me address some of my key time management issues so that I could start having more time to work on other time management issues. Or something like that.
Here are some Time Management tips that work for me, but were easy to implement and gave me a result:
It takes time, so don’t give up. Don’t expect an instant response from any of these time management tips. These are really habits and work-style choices, and it takes time till they become effortless and a natural part of your daily workflow.
“To Do” lists are something to do. The amount of tasks that are created each day and week is continuous flow, and it is really hard to see what that flow is and what needs to be done without some visual picture. The easiest is to make a “To Do” list each day or each week, that lists all the things you know you need to do.
I use a simple pen and pad of paper at my desk, so I can quickly add tasks from a phone call or email. In addition, it allows me to make priority changes by adding numbers next to tasks. As I complete tasks, I just simply cross them out, and at the end of the day I can see what I achieved and the stuff that I still need to do.
One thing at a time. It is really hard for me to chew gum and walk at the same time. Some people can multitask, but more often people think they can multitask but can’t. Then there are people like me who know they can’t multitask. Best strategy for work is to focus on doing one thing at a time. This will not only ensure the best quality of work.
The human brain needs time to switch tasks, to shut down trains of thought and clear itself so it can focus on something new. If you are trying to multitask, then the brain cannot focus and so you actually become less efficient and less effective. I sometimes get forced into multitasking because of the needs of the business, but I try to keep it to a minimum and now more often I tell people it will get done later after I finish the current task.
Ahead is planning ahead. I have found that at night, usually after dinner; I look at my “To Do” list from that day and my calendar for the next day. Then I plan ahead to what I need to focus on for the next day, and I may change priorities on my “To Do” list and highlight the 2 or 3 most urgent things I need to do in the next day.
Whether you plan the night before, or in the early morning before the day starts, it is important to develop your own Plan Ahead routine and make sure you plan to have that time slot reserved. I have found that the 15-20 minutes I reserve for my Plan Ahead routine is one of the most valuable parts of my day.
First things first. It is really important to use the most productive part of the day, doing the most important tasks first. The most productive part of the day can mean different things to different people. If you are like me, I am more productive in the afternoons, but I know many people who feel they do their best work in the mornings or late at night.
No matter what time it is for you, use that time to work on the most important and biggest task first. That way, I completed them first and you can then shift your focus to the task that are smaller and less important. This time management tip is one that gave me the most productivity boost, since before doing this I was spending too much time doing small, less important things during my most productive time. This meant shifting my priority tasks to later in the afternoons, even though traditionally they are things I would try to do in the morning.
These time management tips that work for me may also work for you; whether you are a developer, support staff or management. Even if you only integrate one or two of these tips into your routine, you will most likely see a lowering of stress and an increase in productivity.