Posted by Robert Half on 27 May 2016
Today’s workplace is not exactly slow-paced. The combination of hefty workloads, competing demands and near-constant deadlines can make for a tricky balancing act.
While there's no one-size-fits-all fix, the following time management tips can help.
1. Devise a daily game plan
When you walk into a sea of assignments and feel like you don't have a second to spare, your first inclination might be to immediately dive headfirst into any task – even if it's a time-consuming but low-impact one. While all of your tasks require careful adherence to the clock, one of the most effective time management tips is to take 10 minutes at the start of the day to create a more strategic plan. Identify your most critical and time-sensitive tasks, and then make a prioritised to-do list. It's an upfront investment that'll save you time in the long run – if you stay disciplined and keep the constant mental shuffling (aka multitasking) in check.
2. Set (or reset) boundaries
There are limitations on what a person can achieve in a given time period. Spreading yourself too thin day after day isn't healthy or sustainable. While it's terrific you want to be a team player, constantly pressuring yourself to "do it all" can have some ugly side effects, namely burnout, mistakes and that dreadful feeling you'll never get caught up. The solution: Be willing to tactfully say no sometimes. Also, protect your time by guarding against scope creep. If you're a hard worker with a reputation for meeting deadlines and fulfilling obligations, don't feel guilty about occasionally delegating or pushing back against unrealistic expectations or an unmanageable workload.
3. Clear the clutter
While this may not come to mind when thinking about time management tips, having a tidy office space can affect your work. Clutter can lead to unnecessary stress and wasted time. Many professionals tend to be more productive – and more at ease – when there's at least a modicum of order. If you frequently have to dig for files buried underneath piles of sticky notes and lunch receipts, perhaps it's time to make a clean sweep.
4. Quit procrastinating
Ok, this is easier said than done. It's tempting to postpone less-desirable assignments in favour of tackling more exciting ones. But purposely delaying work on unappealing or highly challenging projects will only exacerbate your problems. Chronic procrastination creates headaches for you, while potentially straining your professional relationships. Don't be your own worst enemy.
5. Have an active life outside the office
Generally speaking, being dedicated to your job is admirable. But client meetings and brainstorming sessions shouldn't be the only events on your agenda. Schedule time to explore outside interests or simply relax. Keeping personal pursuits on the calendar – whether it's hiking or just hanging with friends – can provide extra motivation to manage your time efficiently while you're at work. Plus, it's hard to gain focus and perspective if you never disconnect and decompress.
6. Be "time sensitive"
No blog post featuring time management tips would be complete without this one. When you show that you respect people's time, they'll be far more likely to return the favour. So, don't keep others waiting. Avoid scheduling meetings that aren't necessary – and keep them on track when they are. Likewise, there's no better way to build rapport and gain allies than by volunteering to assist overworked colleagues if you're able. By kindly lending a helping hand when you can, you'll generate some goodwill that could come in handy the next time you're feeling the heat.
Do you ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day for the things that matter? It’s a common complaint. Yet more often than not the number of hours in a day is less important than how you choose to use them. These time management tips will help you better control the clock.
This article originally appeared as 6 Time Management Tips to Help You Better Control the Clock on the Robert Half Creative Group blog.