Excellent time management is one of the most important aspects of both effectiveness at work and finding overall success within your career. In many career paths, it can be easy for one to slip into feeling inundated with tasks. But, equipping yourself with the proper tools to manage both your time and your work will ultimately lead to a healthier work-life balance. Managing and planning properly will allow you the time to further develop yourself in ways that you want, rather than constantly playing catch-up with work-related tasks.
Bettering your time management skills will feel like a lifestyle change. It takes time to develop new, healthy habits. But, once you work these tips into your routine, you’ll immediately start feeling the positive effects. Use these few tips as a foundation to creating a new level of effectiveness for yourself at work.
Start Really Using A Calendar
Modern technology has made it incredibly easy to use calendars, but we often only use them to keep track of phone calls and meetings. To truly start managing your time, begin using your calendar to keep track of specific work tasks. On Sunday evenings, set up your calendar for the week. There will likely be recurring events (lunch, meetings, coffee breaks, etc) that you can set to repeat.
When the recurring events are set, schedule out all of the work that you know must be accomplished that week. Be realistic in terms of how much time the work will take, and when your week starts, work towards sticking to the schedule you’ve laid out for yourself.
Set Aside Time For Emails
It’s no secret that email can be an absolute time-sink. It’s also not a secret that we work in an environment of urgency. Smart phones have made it possible to be reached anywhere at any time, and everyone has become used to (and expectant of) instant fulfillment to inquiries via email or text.
But, if you allow yourself to derail your work every time a new email hits your inbox, you will never be able to accomplish the goals you set for yourself for the day. Instead, schedule time for an email-check when you’re setting up your calendar for the week. A standard schedule would be four short periods of time a day: once at the start of your day, once before lunch, once after lunch, and once at the end of the day. Tailor your email-checking schedule to fit your particular job. If you know that you’ll need to check more frequently or less frequently, adjust the number of email-checks accordingly.
Prioritize Your Tasks
In an ideal world, you’d be able to set up your calendar on Sunday and just work through your tasks each day. But, that’s not a realistic understanding of how any job works. New things will always come across your desk, and it is up to you to determine when they will be completed. Avoid the pressure of stopping what you’re doing and immediately starting your latest task. The stopping and starting only leads to several unfinished projects, and prevents you from approaching your work with thoughtful, carefully structured ideas.
Instead, take a moment to prioritize, and consider the following:
- When is this project due?
- Where does its importance fall among the other projects I have scheduled?
- Where should this new task be placed in my weekly schedule?
Truly understanding the priority of each task at hand will allow you to work smarter, and prevent you from wasting time on menial one-off tasks.
Keeping these three major changes in mind when approaching your work should create a solid foundation of healthy time management. For more ideas to help better your work-flow, look to these sources: Entrepreneur, Forbes, The Creativity Post
Melissa Ko is the Managing Member of Covepoint Capital Advisors, LLC and serves as the Chief Investment Officer of its flagship, the Covepoint Emerging Markets Macro Fund. Please visit https://about.me/melissako, https://melissakoblog.wordpress.com/, http://melissakocovepoint.tumblr.com/, and http://www.slideshare.net/MelissaKo1 to learn more!