Hand_covering_faceWe are all constantly inundated with increasing amounts information, tasks and requests of our time. How we manage that workload can impact our success in the work place, our stress level and our quality of life. Having been someone who has a tendency to take on everything I can, I have had to become outstanding at time and task management to keep up and maintain a level of quality I am happy with. Below you will find quick tips (since I know you are busy) that you can incorporate to start saving time today. While there is nothing ground breaking here, I promise there is one or more things listed that you know you should do, but you just don’t.

There are three ways you can be more productive. You can stop doing some work, work more hours or be more efficient. Working more hours is no fun so let’s look at ways to stop doing work and how to be more efficient.

Stop Doing Some Work

  1. Say no. It’s okay to say no. If it’s a boss who is asking you to take on more have a candid conversation about your current workload and ask them to help you prioritize your projects and select what tasks can be delayed to allow time for the request.
  2. Ask when things need to be done. Not everything has to be done right away. If someone says, “Whenever you get to it,” then ask him or her for a deadline that is more specific. If it is something you really can put off then that will free you for other work in the meantime.
  3. Delegate. I could write a whole article on this (or a book!), but if you hate to delegate, it’s time to get over it. If you are worried that others wont do as good of a job as you, train them and check in with them until they have it down. If you can do it, so can someone else. If you don’t have the time to delegate then have someone watch you while you do the task to kill to two birds with one stone. Not having time to delegate is a horrible excuse and it means you will never get caught up. In many cases, delegating lets others learn more about the company and expand their skill set.

Be More Efficient

  1. Do the worst tasks first. We are all guilty of saving the one thing we don’t want to do until the end of the day. We know it’s there and it’s in the back of our mind all day. Then, as soon as you don’t think you have enough time to do it, you gladly slide that task until tomorrow. Whereas, if you get the task done at the start of the day you build momentum. Everything looks easier and you feel like you have already accomplished something.
  2. Only touch an email once. You might hate me for this, but I only have four emails in my inbox as I am writing this and I only use one email folder (for travel). This is because I do everything I can to do something with each email I read. I delete it, respond to it right then, create a task in my task management program (www.toodledo.com is my go to for web and mobile devices) or delegate it. Letting emails stack up in your inbox is one of the easiest ways to start feeling stressed and having things fall through the cracks.
  3. Uses blocks of uninterrupted time. Maybe go into the office early when others aren’t in yet. If you shut your door, close your emails and turn off your phone, you will be amazed at what you can get done in a 1-2 hour block of time. Every time we get distracted it takes more mental energy than you realize to refocus your attention.
  4. Block your similar tasks together. It also takes a lot of mental energy to go from one type of task to the next. If you can group similar tasks together and stay in the “same mode” you will be more focused and be able to get more done.

There are countless time management systems available. The most important think you can do is use the parts from each one of them that work for you. Rarely will one system work completely work for you. It takes practice and refinement to perfect your time management, but it is well worth the investment.
What are your favorite time management tips? Please comment below.