20 Apr Time Out: Better Time Management Tips for Work
The Internet. Smart phones. Text messages. Email. We have so many ways to communicate, get information, be organized – but sometimes this just feels overwhelming, not streamlined.
If you find yourself longing for the days of a rotary phone and carbon copies – don’t despair. You may just need to find a way to organize your day for better time management at work.
We suggest these tips for better time management and a more efficient workday:
Ease up on email. Email is the greatest invention and the bane of our existence. Not only does it allow for round-the-clock contact, it’s usually open and alerting us to every new message with a little beep or bell. The problem is, we tend to get distracted and check email more frequently than necessary.
Ask yourself if you really need it open all the time. Can you check it once every hour? Every two hours? If so, shut it down (yes, really) and focus on tasks that need your concentration. When you need a break, check email, respond, and. . .close it again.
Make appointments, not to-do lists. Ah, the infamous to-do list. Whether you keep a roster of tasks and errands online, or on scented stationery, you can easily get frustrated as the list keeps outpacing the accomplishments.
What’s better? Plan time for each task. Block it out on your calendar – “complete time sheets” “record expenses” or “file reports” should be allocated a place in your schedule, not on a list.
Just say no. While a lot of your workload probably comes from others who manage you, it’s also easy to “accidentally” sign up for extra tasks. You don’t have to manage the team softball roster and the annual toy drive.
[bctt tweet=”It’s great to be a team player, but it’s even better to be a happy, productive employee who doesn’t burn out.”]
Try for a while to say no to more things, until you feel you’ve established better time management habits with the things that you absolutely must do. Then, you can begin to fold optional tasks back into your day. Also, notice which days are less busy, and try to organize your week to tackle the less important on those days.
Go tech. You can make use of all kinds of great organization software, most of it very reasonably priced, or even free. From Google Calendar to Toodledo to tons of other productivity apps, you can make automated reminders, recurring appointments and – if you must – to-do lists, that will sync across devices and eliminate scraps of paper.
But, power down, too. Ok, ok, we just said embrace technology. But it’s also good to turn off the Internet completely – your phone too, if possible – when you really need to buckle down. And there are tons of Internet blocking software out there to keep you honest.
And if you can’t turn your phone off completely, most models have a Do Not Disturb function that allows you to program for certain numbers – say, your spouse, your child’s school, and your home – to ring through anyway.
Better time management is learned through repeated behavior.
You won’t go from procrastinating every morning, to finishing work an hour earlier overnight. And crises come up, long nights aren’t entirely unavoidable, and, well, you’re human.
But like any other habit, if you begin to practice different behaviors that help you focus, over time it will happen more naturally. Until then – get back to work.