A majority of both recent grads and career veterans would agree that time management is their biggest obstacle. Ever thought, “There never seems to be enough hours in the day!” or “Where did the time go, I haven’t finished any of the tasks I started today!”
Time management is a tough thing to figure out. Even the best laid plans can slip over time, so its good to revisit how you are managing and maximizing your time at the office.
I have been struggling with time management at work lately thanks to my creative “innovator” personality type, which is not necessarily ideal for staying productive in the banking world. For example, I love talking to and connecting with my clients, even if that means a long conversation that strays away from business. I never finish one project or task before starting the next, and I am admittedly addicted to my blackberry.
My distractions lately have led to guilt about not finishing things as early as I would like, disappointment in myself and fear that I am letting my team or clients down.
So first, I identified what distractions I could cut out of my workday to free up more time.
1. Blackberry. Rather than answer every single personal message that comes in throughout the day, I now keep this lovely device in my bag or in a drawer so I can’t see that obnoxious little red light blink every time I get a twitter direct message, blog comment, facebook message, text or email. I can’t even tell you how much this has helped me focus and stop de-railing from tasks. Your personal stuff can wait a few hours, I promise.
2. Personal Email. I used to keep my gmail up all day every day. Now I check my personal email a handful of times each day and then close it. Same goes for g-chat, time to retire from staying logged in all day and checking distracting status messages non-stop.
3. Facebook. Don’t do it. It is like an addictive drug. It will suck you in and you won’t even notice how much time has passed. You are not being paid to creep on facebook. That is what you do AFTER work.
Cutting personal technology addictions is the first step. From here, I had to figure out how to maximize my day. I had to do some reading on this topic and here are a few helpful suggestions I found:
• Plan out tomorrow’s task list before you leave work today. That way no little detail or client request will be forgotten. If it is a simple task, do it before you leave because you will probably forget or disappoint someone if it isn’t done.
• Review this list first thing in the morning each morning. This gives you a direction to start your morning. Crossing things off that list in the morning will give you a sense of accomplishment which will motivate you to continue being productive throughout the day. Apply the same technique to Monday Mornings on a larger scale, map out what projects you need to complete that week and get started. Don’t rely on random thoughts to guide you to productivity.
• Procrastination is like smoking, quit today. It’s addictive, toxic and doesn’t lead to anything good. Keep up with work emails, if something is required of you that you can’t get to right away, print it out and leave it next to you so you can’t forget it. If it is an “FYI email,” read it and move on- don’t leave it in your inbox unread.
• Respond. Call your clients back within half a business day even if you don’t have an answer for them at that moment. Call people within your organization back within 1 day at the latest, be a team player and don’t make people wait on you. Not responding will just eat at you anyways so pick up the phone.
• Just say No. Women, this one may be a shocker: Remember that you do not have to do EVERYTHING requested of you. Its ok to pass it on to a team member once in a while or let someone know that it has to wait. Better that than having a meltdown later.
• Routine. This one is almost impossible for me, but all my sources say this is crucial. Apparently we are not supposed to rely on our mood, the luck gods or the rush of realizing a deadline is approaching to maximize our day. Who knew?! Having a routine allows you to plan for interruptions in your day and make sure you are planning ahead enough to get things done on time. This starts from the moment you wake up. For example, I’m always late which makes me start my day off in a panic-adjust your morning routine to avoid this.
Looks like I have a lot of work to do but I think it will pay off and make me feel a lot better about myself at work. I’m already on the right foot today considering I woke up at 6am rather than 7.30 to accommodate writing this post on time management and getting to work on time!
Make it a productive day!