July 30, 2015

5 Ways to Improve Time Management

By Anastasia Warren

Emails, electronic documents, physical documents, voicemails, meetings, new projects.

Many times, you walk into work in the morning with all of these things (and usually more), staring at you. Today was supposed to be the day you organized your emails. Today was supposed to be the day you updated your employee bio. Today was supposed to be the day.

Well, it still can be.

In a workplace that is filled with information overload, with different people to answer to and customers to please, it is often difficult to remain focused and prioritized. Stress, anxiety, and a feeling of defeat can all stem from problems with time management. If you are someone feeling the side effects of to do’s unchecked and projects unattended, let me assure you, you are not alone.

There are simple ways to combat the giant that is time management, helping you to leave each day feeling a little more productive than the last.

1. Allow yourself time

You’ve been putting off organizing your office for weeks. “Tomorrow,” you think, “tomorrow I’ll get it done.” Well now, it’s tomorrow and guess what? You have the same amount of emails in your inbox as yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. “I guess the office can wait,” you think.

No. Allow yourself the time to organize your workspace and your work materials. Whether it’s your email inbox, your desk, or your notes, you need to make getting it in check a priority. Take ten minutes at the start or end of your day to work on organizing your space, this time will add up, and eventually you’ll thank yourself for not waiting until tomorrow.

2. Outline your day

Obviously outlining your day to a tee isn’t realistic, things come up, you feel like doing certain tasks at different times – the list goes on. However, outlining main priorities each day can lead you to a more productive and energized work day. For example, check your email for twenty or thirty minutes a few times a day, but not in the meantime. As stated previously, give yourself a set ten minutes for your personal organization. Whatever you need in your position, allow yourself the time and outline your day around those important priorities.

3. Learn to speak up

You know yourself better than anyone. You know your limits. You know if you have time to take on one more project. If you feel yourself getting spread too thin, be honest. That is not to say you should always turn away projects, just be realistic. Set expectations for deadlines and the help you may need to complete it. Your boss and colleagues will respect you for your honesty.

4. Plan tomorrow

Each day, even if it sometimes means staying a few minutes after the 5 o’ clock mark, I make sure to write down my main to-do list for the next day before I leave for the night. Writing down important tasks for the following day gives you a sense of relief and prevents you from forgetting different projects, which will help your stress and time management both now and in the long run.

5. Color code, or don’t

 In the end, all that matters is that you find a system that works for you. Some people color code their events and priorities, some people don’t. Some people use an electronic calendar, some people don’t. Allow yourself the time to figure out what works best for you, use it to outline your day, speak up for yourself if you are overwhelmed, and always plan ahead.

Don’t allow time to own you, own your time and watch your work flourish.

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