On average, we spend 8 hours a day at work. We show up at 9am, and leave by 5, that’s 480 minutes, or 28,800 seconds! Yet we complain that there is never enough time in the day. We’re rushing to complete tasks at 4:30 because we desperately want to leave on time. Soon enough, we realize it’s 6 p.m, and we still have work to finish, that we later put off and say we’ll get to tomorrow. It’s a vicious cycle that occurs in every workplace, regardless of what industry you’re in. It’s up to you as an individual to find tips and tricks, so that we can be our most productive self at work.
As a Project Manager, it’s my job to be efficient and organized. Here are 10 tips that I use to manage my time more productively, which I hope you find helpful.
1. Question Yourself
It’s easy to get caught up in the mundane, day-to-day tasks. Therefore, a great approach to any task that you find yourself doing, is to pause and ask yourself. “Is this the best use of my time?”, or “Are there more pressing things I should be doing?”. I often find myself jumping into a variety of tasks that aren’t that critical, so this approach has allowed me to assess and evaluate the importance of my immediate tasks.
2. Shut Your Door and Plug In
In many working environments, you will be surrounded by fellow coworkers or subordinates. It’s easy to get distracted or off topic, and therefore isolating yourself is sometimes the best approach when you want to be productive. Whether it’s plugging in earphones or closing your door, don’t feel bad for doing whatever is necessary to finish your work.
3. Tame Your Technology
We all fall victim to this: checking our phones unnecessarily, going on social media 8 or 9 times a day, and even monitoring our inbox multiple times to see if we received anything new. Allocating time for checking and replying to emails is important, but don’t let that take up your whole day. That, along with browsing social media can take up a large chunk of your work time. Being conscience of this can greatly reduce the amount of wasted work hours.
4. Clear the Clutter
As the saying goes, a clear desk is a reflective of a clear mind. Having a messy desk or workstation creates unneeded stress for both you and others around you. Try to keep your space clean and have the same expectation of your peers.
5. Write it Down
One of the most common lies I tell myself is, “I’ll remember this”, or “I don’t need to remember this”. A common practice is to write everything down. Always have a notebook on hand because you never know when an important piece of information will be given to you. Being able to remember the details of it will reduce the time you spend remembering or retracting your steps to find the missing information.
6. Organize Paper To-Do’s
Creating action items and organizing it into immediate and not immediate tasks categories can greatly increase your task efficiency. When writing tasks down, ask yourself if what you’re currently doing is the best use of your time.One must have an organized idea of the urgency of each individual task. Understanding this will help allocate your working hours to the must immediate or time-sensitive deliverable.
7. Schedule It
A lot of people make to-do lists but never actually get around to completing their to-do’s. If this is a challenge for you, creating dates and times in which you want to complete a task will allow you to better organize your time and generate a greater understanding of what’s delaying you or taking longer than it should.
8. 30 Seconds or Less
Not all tasks are created equal, nor do they all take the same time to complete. Being able to analyze a task as it comes in, and assessing whether or not you can quickly address it, is a great time management skill to learn. Getting things off your plate quickly will allow you to address more pressing tasks within your work day.
9. Sometimes, It’s Okay to Procrastinate
It’s not always the best use of your time for you to tackle a task right when it comes in. Let routine, time-consuming items with no set deadline pile up, and tackle them all at once. This process can only happen after you clearly understand the deliverables needed for a task, and the number of other tasks left to do.
10. Consolidate Routine Actions
Finally, being able to combine routine tasks into a large batch is a great way to cut down the time wasted jumping from one action to another. Actively being able to set your brain to something it can do well allows you to power through it quicker. If you were to jump from large tasks to routine ones, it will slow down the process of both.
Ultimately, these are all tips that can help influence better time management in the workplace. Some might resonate more than others, and some you might be implementing already, but in the end, it’s the conscious effort of being aware of yourself and your surroundings that lead to the best management of yourself.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”
– Benjamin Franklin