A busy working life can be rewarding, motivating and can offer the kind of challenges that lead to personal growth. But being busy can also lead to a stressful time as your workload mounts up and there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done. Good organisational and time management skills are vital to keeping you on top of your workload, stress free, and can improve your productivity. Managing your own time, plus that of your employees, is easy once you know how!
Effective time management can help you to achieve more from your working day and save you from the out of control feeling that takes over when your work becomes unmanageable. The first step to getting yourself back in control is to become organised. If you are a naturally chaotic person then this might be a bit of a challenge for you, so start small and work your way up. The most essential thing to do is to make a to-do list with your tasks listed in importance. Freeing this information from your head and onto a piece of paper will help to alleviate some of the stress you are under and should make you feel more in control. You should keep a copy of your to-do list in your diary so that when making plans for meetings you can be aware of how much you have to get done and if you really do have time free on a particular day.
Listing your tasks in order of importance may sound simple, but once you start you will realise that there is a difference between tasks that are urgent and tasks that are important. An important task may be getting a piece of work done for your boss or dealing with your company’s largest client, an urgent task may be something that has to be completed in a very strict time restraint with no flexibility on moving the deadline. Some tasks might be both urgent and important – these should go at the very top of your to do list. With the remaining items on your list, deciding if they are not urgent or not important will help you get them in order. For example, something that is urgent but not important should go above something that is important but not urgent. This should help you to not overlook anything and to be able to focus on what your overall goals are. Once properly identified, you will find it a lot easier to work towards wherever it is that you want to head.
Your list of jobs will vary in size depending on whether your work has a certain point in the month or week that you get especially busy. Pinpoint exactly when you expect these busy times to be and prepare yourself for saying no to people around this time. It may be a hard thing to do but saying no to additional work when you already have enough you fill your plate is the best thing you can do. Other peoples often non essential tasks are fine to accept, but only when your to-do list is manageable. If other people are on hand then delegate tasks out to them instead of receiving them. You’ll most likely find that it’s the unimportant jobs that you can most easily farm out, but it will help to ease your workload and may help sculpt future working relationships or job roles for people beneath you.
Another helpful hint on how to get organised is to write down everything you do for a couple of days. Evaluating how your time has been spent can show you the gaps where your time could be spent more wisely, and could reveal to you that perhaps most of your day is taken up with admin tasks that you could delegate, or personal calls that could wait until the evening. If you spend a huge amount of time on a specific job, identify whether the job needed all that time. To do a quality job you will need to take your time, and a job well done is ultimately the desired end result, so don’t beat yourself up spending too much time on something – as long as it’s worth it.
Managing your time will come easier if you break all of your bigger projects into smaller ones. These can be easily slotted into your day, and especially if you don’t like the particular task, it will be a lot easier to work on it for short bursts rather than blocking out a day or two for just one job. It might sound like a cliche, but the key to handling your workload is working smarter, not harder. Good time management should mean that high quality work is produced rather than a high quantity, although you might find the more organised you are the more time you can free up. Try and spend this time taking a break as returning to your desk after stretching your legs or getting some fresh air will make you feel rejuvenated with a fresh perspective on your work.
So gone are the nights where thinking about work keeps you awake; your mind racing over the things that you need to get done. Not only will you sleep better, but keeping your stress levels down will give you a sense of renewed enjoyment for your role, and will help you to make much more informed decisions. Instead of feeling like you are constantly firefighting, you will find that a good time management system helps you to have the time to make clear, informed and well researched decisions.
About the author: Terry is a champion of industry. He enjoys nothing more than reading an air conditioning installation manual and keeping abreast with the latest HVAC industry news. He supports Manchester United and has a dog named Beefy.