It doesn’t matter where you are in your life — you could work in an office, at a center, or in the home — you will at times have a to-do list a mile long that seems overwhelming. You wonder how you will get it all done. That’s where strong time management skills are a vital tool to have in your arsenal. Below are some tips to keep you organized and crossing tasks off your list.
1. Find where your time goes
Log the amount of time you spend each day for a week or two. Break your day down into intervals and record what you did during that time. You might be shocked to find areas where you aren’t working at your peak. You’ll also find how long certain activities take, what time of the day is most productive for you, and if you accomplished everything you set out to do. Knowing this can help you focus your efforts to improve.
2. Prioritize the important and the urgent
Break down your responsibilities into important/not important and urgent/not urgent. Generally speaking, except for times when urgent tasks come up, it’s best to prioritize the important things, because if those things take longer, then you’re only losing time for things that aren’t important. Order your to-do list this way to control your time and keep important things from becoming urgent.
3. Try the Two-Minute Rule
Little things tend to build up and cause a lot of stress in our lives, so sometimes it’s best to get those things out of the way first. The Two-Minute Rule says if you can finish something in only two minutes, carve the moments to do it. That can be anything from replying to emails to finalizing reports. Sometimes that’s the best way to clear a lot of items off your to-do list.
4. Say “No,” or Delegate
For many of us it’s hard to do, but saying “no” is a vital part of managing your time. If you are already feeling stressed with five things on your to-do list, taking on any more would not be good for you and would cause your work to suffer all around. Your best bet would be to tell the requestor, “I’d love you help you with this, but I’ve got enough on my plate right now and would not be able to devote enough time to your project. Once I’m less busy I can take on a bit more.” Another slightly uncomfortable option when your list gets too long is delegating tasks. We don’t like doing it, either because we prefer to do our work ourselves, or because of the time it takes to train others, but it’s worth it. It allows you to focus on those important tasks while letting someone else handle those things that are less important.
5. Stay focused
How many times have you been in the middle of a task and stopped to check your phone, walk to the vending machine, or pause to check your emails? Those small distractions we find ourselves bombarded with every day wreak havoc on our ability to manage our time. To control your focus, do things like put your phone out of sight, close any unnecessary programs on your computer, and plan any meals or snacks before starting or after finishing your task.
What sort of things help you manage your time? Send us your ideas!