Managing time can be a challenging feat for the average worker: long meetings, constant emails and other petty distractions can take a big chunk out of your productivity. Finding ways to manage time is crucial not only to enhancing your personal productivity but also for minimizing stress and maintaining a healthy attitude. Here are four ways to manage time in challenging situations.
First, start with a plan. It's been said that those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Preferably the night before work, write out a list of tasks you need or want to accomplish. Make this list more effective by prioritizing the tasks in order of importance; start with the highest priority task, and go from there. Peter Bregman, author of bestselling time-management book "18 Minutes," advises making your daily plan to help you determine what will make your day successful and what tasks will further your goals while allowing you to leave at the end of the day with a sense of accomplishment.
To take your daily plan one step further, place all important tasks on your calendar. There's no rule that says calendars are reserved only for appointments or meetings. Whether it's ordering supplies, typing a memo, making dinner or attending your child's softball game, it should be placed on your calendar. Bregman mentions studies in which people who designated a time and place for each of their tasks had a far higher success rate at managing time and completing those tasks than people who simply made a list. "If you want to get something done, decide when and where you're going to do it. Otherwise, take it off your list," advises Bregman.
Keep your workspace clear. A cluttered desk full of unfiled papers, mail and other items is distracting and interferes with your focus. When too many things are in your direct field of vision, you may find yourself being pulled in multiple directions and unable to concentrate. It may seem minute, but you will notice a difference in your personal productivity and ability to manage time once you clear your workspace and surroundings of unnecessary clutter.
This last tip can be challenging to implement for many people. Learn to decline certain requests that don't fit into your daily plan. Realize that you are only one person; it is not up to you to save everyone else's day. As author Karen Burns suggests, what is important is not always urgent. Be cautious about the additional tasks you take on, and when you do add something new, be sure to reprioritize your daily plan to manage time efficiently.
Starting with a daily to-do list, placing all tasks on your calendar, keeping a clear workspace and learning to decline certain requests are all effective ways to manage time efficiently at work. Perhaps the most important tip to remember, however, is to let go of perfection. Understand that there will always be distractions and that you may not always cross everything off the list. That's OK — that's what tomorrow is for.
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