There are days when everything goes according to plan, and then there are days when nothing runs smoothly, meetings run over schedule, emails are left unanswered and there just aren’t enough hours in the day, no matter how well we try to manage our time effectively!
Coping with the stresses of modern working life can be difficult and we often neglect to form an action plan in a rush to complete more tasks and try to stay ahead of our game.
However, good time management is based in consistent, thoughtful planning – you wouldn’t meet a new client without having prepared in advance and your workday should be afforded the same consideration.
By spending a few minutes at the start of each day (or the end of the day before if you’re a night owl) creating a plan for the day ahead and prioritizing tasks, means we are more likely to have a day which runs smoothly, use our time effectively, complete tasks within deadlines and feel like we are coping well and managing our workload.
The following points will help ensure a consistent approach and create good time management habits.
1. Plan Everything Using Calendars & Planners
This may sound like a basic point but you’d be surprised by how few people routinely use planners to help keep themselves organized.
Planning on a daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly basis, can help you stay on top of things from appointments and work deadlines, to family obligations and birthday reminders.
Using a planner or calendar on your phone it is possible to sync all your devices (including family members, so that the kids aren’t left waiting at after school clubs) so that everyone knows where they are supposed to be and when.
Follow the plan on the calendar but remember that things don’t always go the way we expect so be prepared to be flexible when it is necessary.
Remember to schedule a time for exercise, personal space or just a walk in the park so that you give yourself the headspace needed to stay motivated, reduce stress levels and appreciate life.
2. Manage your Time and Take a Break
Most people work best for short intervals of time (usually 45 to 90 minutes) so plan tasks around these times.
For instance, schedule emails and phone calls within a 45-minute slot, change to another task for 45 minutes, then take a short break, make a coffee and get back to work on a different project or a separate task.
Factor in five or ten minutes for short breaks throughout the day and try to get some fresh air or exercise. Be sure to allow for a longer break too so that you really have time to re-set your mind.
3. Multitask and Be Creative with Time Management
Some people believe multitasking basically means you get very little achieved while feeling uber busy!
But this is because they aren’t multitasking the right way.
Completing two or more tasks at the same time is straightforward when one is a menial task that can be performed without thinking, leaving room for mental processing on the second, or third task.
For instance, if you spend part of your day commuting by train, then use this time to catch up on emails, write notes, or do some research. Similarly, if you walk to work, you could dictate presentation notes, listen to an industry podcast, or check-in with friends and family on the phone.
Organize your day so it fits with how and when you work best, so for some that might mean working late once the family are in bed, while others may prefer to start their day at the crack of dawn with a run so they have a clear head for their day.
Understanding when you perform best is key to enabling effective use of time.
At Creative Word Training we can help you learn to manage stress at work, become adept at process mapping and learn effective problem-solving skills in order to improve work strategies and ensure your working day runs smoothly.