Everyone knows that time management is one of those make-or-break skills that are required to succeed in the workplace; but knowing is only half the battle. As a Project Manager in our Enterprise Department, it’s crucial that I keep myself organized (to the best of my ability) to prevent pulling my hair out on a daily basis. Not only am I responsible for organizing my day, but the team I work with is dependent on me as well; at first we stumbled, but by now we’re getting closer to becoming a well-oiled marketing machine.
In our initial efforts to get organized, I thought the same thing you’re saying to yourself right now, “This is easier said than done.” Don’t worry, everyone stumbles. The key is learning how to make the chaos work! I call it “organized chaos”.
The first steps toward effective time management and maintaining an extensive workload is knowing what you can and cannot handle, as well as understanding why it’s so important to get under control.
According to MetLife, nearly half of employees (40%) admitted their workload had increased in the past 12 months. Taking it further, an article by Stress.org shows that 46% of workplace stress comes from trying to juggle your workload.
Without maintaining your workload properly, you’re putting yourself at risk for [a long list of stress-related health issues] including heart attacks, hypertension, and more.
So, how do we do it? Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way that may help reduce the chances of losing your sanity during the workday.
Post-its, lists, calendars; these are all great tools to keep yourself on track with tasks throughout the day. It’s not just about using these tools to stay organized, but how you use them.
Save your new list-making skills for prioritizing your day or week, try post-its for side notes (you can even use the post-its on your computer for a greener conscience), and calendars for meetings and deadlines.
Within every position and its individual tasks, priorities are never the same. However, no matter what role you play within your company, giving tasks superiority for one reason or another is vital to productivity.
Step 1: Make a list of tasks that need to be completed, whether it is for the day or the week; physically write out what you need accomplished. If you’re anything like me, you need all the help you can get to keep your priorities in order.
Consider using a Word document to keep your larger or ongoing projects organized, and an actual notepad for tasks you know can be completed within the designated timeframe.
Step 2: Mark tasks on your list that need to be completed by you personally, and which ones can be delegated to another employee.
Step 3: Give an order to your list based on priority and move tasks around as you see fit; as long as you have a method and stick to it you’ll be just fine. Use this list in conjunction with your calendar to make sure deadlines are met.
Step 4: Cross off tasks on your list once they’re completed, smile, and breathe. The actual act of crossing that job off your list will be more gratifying than you think! Now doesn’t that feel good?
Challenge Yourself for the Greater Good
Wait, What? You want me to challenge myself while I’m already knee-deep in tasks that need to be completed?
Challenging yourself throughout the workday will actually help you get better at your job.
Throughout your day or week, you’re most likely crossing tasks off your list that are recurring, or at least similar.
Here’s your challenge: What can you do differently within that task to increase your productivity? Have you ever timed yourself while completing this recurring task? Set small goals throughout the day for certain things that need to be done, and challenge yourself to increase your own efficiency. The coming days or weeks will get just a little bit easier now that you’ve recognized and eliminated obstacles to complete tasks much quicker.
Take it a Step Further
So at this point you now have a better understanding of what’s on your plate (wait, did I pack a lunch? – stay focused!) and you know what can be done to increase your own (and maybe even your productivity).
Let’s take it one step further. Have you ever actually sat back and thought about the process of completing those recurring tasks? Obviously a lot of thought went into it when you first learned how to complete it, but you’re a pro by now so there must be a better way! Can you lay out templates for yourself and rock out a task by attacking it data-entry style? How about breaking down a task and seeing what steps can be combined, or possibly even re-ordered? Who knows, you might just revolutionize the entire way your job is done!
Again, all of these tips are so much easier said than done. However, when it comes down to preserving your sanity (and possibly your job), a few of these pointers, although time consuming, may change more than just your workday; they could change your life.