When I asked managers and supervisors what they believed to be an area where they and their employees struggled the most, I received consistent feedback that time management was a key area of concern. Indeed, the lack of good time management skills at work can take its toll not only on job performance, but on several aspects of one's life, from work to family to health to any social life outside of work. To be effective managers and employees, we need to find ways to improve time management on an individual basis so we can do our jobs as we should (and still have a life). Below are five tips to point you in the right direction
1. Organize, organize, and organize!
Make a list. Use a PDA. Hire an assistant. Everyone has their own style of organization, which is fine, as long as you use whatever method works best for you on a regular basis. You may choose to make a list on a pad of paper you check things off of and add items to at the end of each day. Or maybe you use your blackberry or other PDA to review and keep important tasks listed. Another option, if permitted, is to hire an assistant to help you. It takes a bit of time to get organized initially, but if kept up with on a consistent basis, it's well worth it in the long run. On the contrary, when you're not organized, it can often seem like nothing gets done or things fall through the cracks because you're so busy and don't have a good focus on what needs to be done and when.
Once you have a method of organization, you can then focus on prioritizing your day and week. Be clear on the significance of what you're doing each day and what is most important.
3. Manage expectations.
Okay. So it's not always easy to say no to your boss. However, it's important for your own sanity to learn to manage expectations. If someone comes in 5 minutes before a meeting, then ask them if you can touch base with them at another time that works for them as you have another commitment to keep. Or, if you're asked to complete a task for someone and it was needed ‘yesterday’ in their mind (we've all been there) but you have another big project due in the morning, learn to say, ‘OK. I have a big project to complete by the morning, but I can work on this tomorrow afternoon and have it to you by noon the next day. ’ At the end of the day, coworkers should respect the fact that you honor your commitments to others, as well (including yourself). Remember, every time you are saying ‘yes’ to something, you are saying ‘no’ to something else. No matter what, things will always be there the next day.
It's sometimes hard for managers to delegate tasks to their employees for various reasons. For one, they often think it would take too much time to train someone. However, if they took the time to train their employees properly on certain tasks and projects, it could pay off ten fold. It might take some time in the beginning, but would free up time for them to do other important tasks in the long run. For any employee, considering hiring someone to help with various tasks outside of work, like housecleaning and running errands, so you have time to focus on your family and/or social life when you get out of work.
5. Block out time for projects, returning phone calls and email.
Look at your calendar daily and weekly and determine what day and time you can block out to focus on projects that require little or no distraction. Also, it's good to focus on responding to email and voicemail at certain times throughout the day. You can get a lot more done in a day when you're not continuously responding and reacting to emails and phone calls.
Time management is not something that's learned over night. It takes time. There are several resources available, so find one that fits with your style and personality. It will pay off in the long run!
Maurisa Westbury is Chief Training Strategist for OnlineTraining2Go an e-learning solutions company specializing in providing computer based training via the Internet for individuals, small to medium sized businesses and the association market. OnlineTraining2Go offers an extensive catalog with over 2500 topics. The company also offers career coaching, FREE teleseminars and webinars related to career development and personal growth. If you're ready to reinvent yourself, get noticed and move to the next level in your career get your FREE report on career advancement and success now HERE