If you find yourself getting frazzled and stressed at work because you’re not getting your tasks done on time, you need to get organized and manage your time better. Even if your workdays are never the same, you can still organize your days and manage your tasks in a way that will help you complete everything on time—and thoroughly. Here are seven time management tips that will significantly boost your productivity and help you meet your deadlines.
1. Set Goals
Make a list of your goals for the week. Write down any goal you wish to achieve, whether it’s work-related or not. Then organize your work-related goals into large and small goals. For example, “looking up information for an article” is a small goal, while “writing the final draft of the article” is a big goal. “Figuring out the topic for a PowerPoint presentation” is a small goal. “Creating the PowerPoint” is a large goal. Basically, large goals will take up more of your time. Next, put an average time for completion next to each goal. This will help you organize your week.
2. Put Together a Checklist
Create a daily checklist so you can cross off the goals you’ve accomplished. A checklist will help with work management and make you more productive. It will also feel good to cross off the goals you’ve achieved for the day, no matter how small. And that positive feeling will help you continue to work toward completing all of your goals.
3. Set Aside Uninterrupted Time
Going to a meeting, then working on a small goal for 20 minutes, then working on a big goal for 30 minutes, then going to another meeting will leave you feeling unproductive and stressed out. Instead, let yourself have an afternoon of uninterrupted work to tackle a big goal, or to finish several smaller goals. Once you start working on a goal, don’t stop until it’s complete or until your time frame is done. Moving between goals can keep you from completing them. Uninterrupted time will allow you to be more productive.
Remember to prioritize your goals. Larger goals that have to get done sooner are the ones you should be working on first. Sometimes people put off larger goals because they’re too intimidating. But the more you put them off, the more intimidating they’ll be. Try and break down your larger goals into three or more smaller goals and work on them consecutively. Psychologically, you’ll feel less stressed trying to complete three smaller goals versus one large goal.
5. Make Small Changes
If completely reorganizing your day sounds too daunting, try and make a couple of small changes every few days. If you’re prone to skipping lunch, make sure you schedule a lunch break into your day. You won’t get as much accomplished if you’re hungry or worn out. Even a couple of 15-minute breaks away from your desk during the day will help you focus more and stay on target.
6. Only Check Your Email at Certain Times
Designate a specific time two or three times a day for checking your email. Give yourself time to look over your email but not enough time for you to dwell on one email or get lost in emails that are unimportant. By doing so, you’ll get through your emails quicker and have more time to do the work that’s important. If you’re expecting an important email, you’ll of course check your emails more often. However, when you’re looking for an important email, do just that. Open your email and if the important email isn’t there, and it’s not your designated email time, close your email and get back to your goals.
7. Know Your Productive Period
People have different periods during the day when they’re most productive. Some are more productive in the morning, others in the afternoon. Find out when your most productive time of the day is and schedule your most important goals then. This will help you stay more focused and on task. This will also help you accomplish your most important goals in a timely fashion. When you’re not as productive, do a couple of small tasks, look at your emails, or catch up on some research. This will help you work when you’re feeling less productive. Using your natural productivity periods to your advantage will help you feel less stressed and ensure that you get the most out of your workdays.
Jane Hurst is a writer, editor, and avid traveler from San Francisco, Calif. Find her at About.me.
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