Professional Tips to Improve Time Management

How will I get it all done?! There are so many tasks and projects out there I need to work on – where should I start??

I hate the feeling when my work – and my life – are out of control. I don’t know if I can get it all done, because I don’t really know what needs to get doneI need to get a handle on it!

Ok, I can’t promise that putting these tips into practice will fix your situation, but after thirty-seven years of professional administrative experience, I can encourage you to read on, with the hopes that you’ll find an idea that works for you.

1. Make a plan

Make a plan for tomorrow before you leave your desk tonight.

You’ve heard this one before, having a handle on my work is where I find my peace of mind.  So from the myriad of projects and tasks, I choose what I’m going to focus on the next day.

Then I prioritize them: a couple of quick/easy tasks to begin, then one of the toughest ones (that’s right, don’t put off the difficult project til the end of your day!). You can leave work with peace of mind knowing what has to be done the next day, and which project you will attack first.

Stick to your plan.

When I hit the office the next morning, I have to fight off the temptation to re-evaluate my plan because an email or phone message caught my attention. As much as possible, stick to the plan you made the day before when you were logically thinking it all through. It’s probably going to still be the best plan.

Is your workflow prone to interruptions and urgencies that throw a monkey wrench into your plan? It’s ok to close your door and turn off your phone ringer while you work on an important project. Don’t sacrifice the important for the urgent. When I don’t make myself available 24/7, I find that people tend to find solutions on their own.

2. Set realistic expectations

Set realistic expectations, for your sake and others’. Don’t over commit.

I’m a people-pleaser. I avoid confrontation. So it’s easy for me to offer a quick turnaround to a client and regret it later.

Overworking in order to meet unrealistic deadline takes time and focus away from your other deserving clients. And makes you less productive. Clients generally prefer a realistic target delivery date that you can keep, than one that keeps moving.

3. Schedule time

Schedule time for those ‘hard-to-find-time-for’ projects.

The tyranny of the urgent tends to rule my schedule. The important projects don’t get done because I’m putting all my time and energy into immediate needs.

If that’s your story, you need to schedule your time. Instead of working a particular task or project until you reach a certain point, try setting a time limit. In advance, decide how much time you will devote to each project on your schedule for the day. That way you can also schedule time for those hard-to-find-the-time-for projects.

4. Don’t trust your memory

Use your phone for reminders.

Siri can help you with those to-dos that pop into your mind on the way to work, or while you’re driving home.  A reminder in your phone to pick up groceries (or the kids!) on the way home can save lots of time and grief when you get home. Basically, every time you make a reminder for yourself, you can take your mind off that task and focus on the work at hand.

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