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Time management tips for the workaholic

Julie Lord

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If you love your work in project management, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been working for years, it can be quickly turn into the only thing you do. So how can you regain the work-life balance without impacting on your productivity?

Perhaps you’re not as much of a workaholic as a Facebook-at-work-aholic or a long-coffee-break-a-holic? Let’s have a look at using your time a little more effectively. Here are a few tips to get your started:

Use the 2 minute rule

If a job will take less than two minutes to complete then do it as soon as you see it. Reply to that email, photocopy that document, send that letter. Putting off small jobs won’t make them go away!

Prioritise your workload

Spend a few minutes first thing, and perhaps when you return to your desk after lunch, prioritising your tasks. You can use a Prioritisation Matrix to help you sift the important and urgent from the non-urgent and unimportant.

Be realistic with deadlines

On average a job takes twice as long as you estimate it will. Make sure your deadlines allow for over-run. If necessary use the “redline/deadline” approach. The redline is your personal target. That’s how long you expectthe task to take. The deadline is what you tell the person who is waiting for you to complete the task. No one complains if you’re ahead of schedule.


Don’t start a task that will take 20 minutes if you know you’ve got a meeting in 10. Once you’ve started on a particular job see it through to its conclusion. It’s easy to become buried under a mountain of “almost-done” jobs if you keep switching tasks.

Get organised

Yes, the “To Do” list is a bit of cliché but they work. You can have a paper one, write on a whiteboard or even install an app on your phone but relying on remembering tasks means sooner or later you’ll forget to do something.

Avoid Distractions

Did you know that the average US worker spends 55 minutes a day on Facebook? Unless you’re the Social Media Manager you probably should be keeping that sort of activity for your non-working time. But working distractions can crop up too and you shouldn’t be afraid to ignore them either. Turn off email notifications and only check for messages when you’re between tasks. Don’t be afraid to put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door or on the back of your chair to indicate you’re not available for a chat right now.

Go Home

Of course you should be prepared to put in extra work when it’s needed but that shouldn’t be every day. Remember to actually go home early once in a while to switch off from work. And actually use your holiday allowance before you’re forced to!


Finally, don’t fill up your working hours with tasks that aren’t really yours. If someone else can do a task then ask them to do it! Perhaps the project management apprentice could help here?

Use your project management skills on yourself and analyse how you are using your time – then use the tips above to improve!


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