Sometimes work can make you feel so overwhelmed that you’re not sure how you’ll possibly get everything done, let alone do it well. On the days when time management seems like an absurd fantasy, try incorporating the below tips into your work day regimen and see if they help save your time and sanity.
Determine Tasks & Deadlines
To help you prioritize your workload, each Monday morning write down everything you need to accomplish by the end of week. Then break that list down further by tasks that need to be completed before the end of each day. If you have large projects, try to limit your daily task list to 3-5 projects per day. For example, sending proposals to 20 clients would be considered one project, creating quarterly budgets or forecasts would be a second project, proofing materials would be a third project, etc. Once your daily list is determined, start with your most difficult task first. Not only will this make every other task seem easy by comparison, you also won’t spend all day thinking about that big task you still have to do, which gives you the rest of the day to focus on projects 2-3 or 3-5.
Limit How Many Times You Check Your Email
Set specific times throughout the day to check your emails. If possible, try not to check them first thing in the morning or every few minutes throughout the day. Try to complete an important task first and only check your email after the task is finalized, so that you’re not overwhelmed by any new requests they likely contain. To avoid distractions, turn off notifications so that you don’t see pop-up messages every time a new email comes in. Before you read any of your emails, filter them by sender/subject line, delete any that are identified as spam or junk, and then prioritize them based on their subject lines, so that you are less likely to get distracted. If you are expecting an email from a specific individual, filter your emails by name and only open emails from that individual. Finally, use the OHIO “only handle it once” strategy: read an email one time only and then respond to it immediately afterwards, so that it’s finished.
Forget About Perfection
Everything doesn’t have to look perfect, especially if it takes too long to make it so. Perfection is often the greatest obstacle to being productive. Instead of striving for perfection, ask yourself why you’re doing the task in the first place and what difference it will make to your business as a whole. The goal is to work smarter, not harder.
If your schedule consists of numerous meetings each day or throughout the week, block off specific time on your calendar and make yourself unavailable to attend meetings during those times. If you have daily meetings, try to block off at least 2-3 hours each day as non-meeting time. Or, if Tuesdays-Thursdays are filled with back to back meetings, consider blocking off Mondays and Fridays as non-meeting days. Once meetings are scheduled and to ensure each meeting is as productive as possible, request an agenda ahead of time. Once the meeting starts, stick to the agenda that will help avoid spending time on mindless matters.
Use Your Personal Time Wisely
When you’re away from work, set aside time to rest and reflect on self-care. Schedule time for exercise, research flights for a holiday, look up local places you can volunteer, make that doctor’s appointment you’ve been avoiding, book a massage, or meet some friends for happy hour. Doing so ensures that you are prioritizing yourself and making the most of your spare time.