Written By Contributing Editor Sherri Middleton
Time seems to fly when you are having fun and it apparently flies faster when you are on a tight deadline. It’s that way for me anyway, so I thought I’d spend a few of my precious minutes to jot down some of the best time management advice I’ve been given over the years. Maybe it will help you manage your time better, too!
1. Make a quick to-do list to start each day and assign a time limit for completion of each task. Keeping the list to three or four items at a time makes the goal seem achievable. Jot it on a piece of paper or use an app and list your most important tasks first, or better yet, open your desktop calendar and block off the time for each project.
2. Turn off all distractions. Don’t check email yet. Don’t listen to voicemail. Go straight to the most important item first and see it to completion. Or, if you’re like me, start with something easy to get started and then move to the most difficult item next.
3. Set a dollar value on your time. When you know how much your time is worth, the knowledge will sometimes motivate you to make the best of it.
4. If you can’t complete a task in the time you have – ask for help or delegate some or all of the work.
5. Forget the small stuff. That’s the stuff that distracts us from a project or task when we know we need to stay focused. While working, a thousand other side things arise and beg for attention. I usually scribble out a quick note to myself or add it to Asana so I can get back to the main task.
6. Take a break. Take a walk. It might seem counter-intuitive and counter-productive, but our brain needs this time to decompress. The time away allows the brain to analyze the situation and return refreshed and hopefully invigorated.
7. Get organized. Nothing wastes time like a cluttered desk. You should see mine. First, the stacks of important documents lying around reminds me that I have a dozen other things to do. Second, I can see the mess around me and it makes me feel nervous. I’m currently working on several projects, so I quickly sorted the information into files and moved them out of my line of sight. Now back to the important stuff.
8. Learn to say “no.” It’s not always possible to say no, but it is often necessary when focusing on an important task. Knowing what is a priority to you and what can wait makes it easier to say “no” when necessary.
9. Don’t make a habit of saying “no.” People who never offer assistance rarely receive assistance when needed.
10. Reward yourself. If you’ve completed the most important tasks of the day, it’s time for a reward. Treat yourself to five minutes of Facebook or a cup of coffee. A reward for doing a good job releases the stress of the moment and allows us to return to the task list with energy and resolve.