By: Rachel Stevens | VP, Talent Management
What are your goals? Do you want to earn a professional certification? Do you want to be a part of a special project? Do you want a promotion? The best laid plans can’t be accomplished without first identifying the steps that must be done to achieve your goals. And time management is an important part of the equation.
How well do you manage your time? I know a few time management masters, but even the best slip up from time to time. To help you stay on track, here are some tips to handle your to-do list, master time management, and crush your goals!
1. Use a to-do list, but don’t abandon tasks.
All goals and projects are made up of smaller parts that need to be accomplished in order to achieve that goal. List all the measurable steps that need to be accomplished. One of my best tools for organization has always been to keep lists. I have tried online lists, apps, writing on an iPad, adding notes to my phone, task lists in Outlook, and paper lists crossed off with green highlighting.
Whatever works for you is fine; the key is to know what you are working on, and when those tasks are due. Seeing what you have already achieved, and what remains, is a great way to keep you focused and motivated. Of course, there will be interruptions, and you will need to handle a task such as returning an email or calming an upset employee, but the key is to stay focused on what remains to be done to accomplish your goals!
2. Plan ahead.
When you don’t have a plan for the day, you may wander around aimlessly, waste time, and handle trivial things first. Every day before I log out, I spend about 20 minutes cleaning up my desk, organizing my notes that are left from the day’s work, and reviewing my to do list for the next morning. Try blocking 30 minutes out each morning before the hustle and bustle of the day really get going. Use that time for organization, prioritization, and focus on the day ahead. You are doing important work and changing lives – remember that!
3. Tackle the biggest stuff first.
Eat the frog. Take a bite of the elephant. All these animal metaphors! Whatever it’s called – get that big, icky, tough stuff out of the way first. Then, use that feeling of accomplishment to get through the rest of the day!
4. Eliminate distractions.
This is the hardest one in today’s age of constant connection and social media! Does this sound familiar? Don’t fib…we’ve all done it. You are writing an email but stop to randomly check your phone for no reason. You are creating a spreadsheet, but you get a notification on your phone about celebrity news on Twitter that you MUST read! You are talking on the phone, but your email keeps popping up, distracting you from the conversation at hand.
Staffmark Group’s CEO Geno Cutolo always says, “Be present.” It’s easier said than done, but what wise advice! Try turning off your email notifications for an hour while you work on a very important project. Silence your phone, turn it over, put on do not disturb, put it in a drawer for a while. Do whatever works for you. Just eliminate those distractions.
5. Leave a buffer between meetings.
This one is simple to plan, but harder to stick to. Are you running from meeting to meeting, back-to-back, without even making time to eat or use the bathroom? Been there done that! Slot in “hold time” on your Outlook calendar so no one can schedule you, and then work on your goals and focus on success.
6. Just say “no.”
I’m not talking about telling your manager that you just aren’t going to do what they have asked of you, but it’s ok to set boundaries and manage expectations. If you are getting bombarded with email requests, a timely reply along with a timeframe for completion goes a long way! Rather than ignoring the person, tell them, “I’m looking into your questions, I’ll have an update for you by tomorrow at noon.”
You can only handle so much. Multi-tasking isn’t actually the best practice. Managing your time, others expectations, and focusing on one thing at a time goes a long way.
7. Find inspiration.
What inspires you? Use that to your advantage! Is it an inspiration board of quotes and photos? Is it a list of your life goals and dreams? Is it a TED talk on YouTube or a book about an inspirational person? A documentary on Netflix? How are you going to reignite that fire to get motivated and back-on-track? I believe in you. Now, believe in yourself!
What are your tips to manage time and reach your goals? Please share them on our Facebook page!