Space-Age Time Management Skills

Posted by Kathi Guiney on September 20, 2017, Working Smarter | No Comments

You would think by 2017, we’d have super-smart robots doing our work for us, like in The Jetsons or WALL-E. But while we wait for technology to catch up with our dreams, we must wrangle our own work. That means we have only 24 precious hours to complete all our daily tasks—a tall order when you feel like you’re aimlessly swirling in a whirlwind of activity. If you’re always busy but never shortening the to-do list, improving your time-management skills can be just the thing.

You can’t invent time any more than you can invent a 29th-century robot, but you can reinvent your calendar with these time management tips:

  • What are your priorities? If you don’t already keep a to-do list, start! At the end of each workday, make a list of all the tasks you need to get done. When you come in to work the next day, review the list and prioritize each item for this day only. What must get done today? What would you like to get done today? What can absolutely wait until tomorrow? What could you get off your plate entirely by delegating it to someone else? Set completion goals and stick to them.
  • Where are you wasting time? …because we can guarantee you are wasting time. We all do it—Facebook, texting, chatting about The Walking Dead at the water cooler. You may not realize how quickly these moments add up to hours! To prevent small distractions from turning into big ones, start keeping an activity log. Log all your activities for a week and how long you spend doing each one. Once you see how you’re actually spending your time, you can reallocate it into a daily time budget.
  • What can you reorganize? Your activity log will show how much time you spend trying to find things, like that email your client sent you last month, or that signature folder buried somewhere on your desk. If disorganization is bringing down your productivity, take a moment to reorganize of completely redo your filing systems. A small investment now will have long-term benefits!
  • How can you make use of your downtime? Whether you’re waiting for a meeting to start or for your lunch order to be ready, part of your daily hours will be spent waiting. But wait time doesn’t have to be wasted time! Always have something ready to work on, such as replying to email, reading expense reports, or planning out the next day’s activities.
  • Where can you set limits? Only so much time can go into making any project “just right.” (Perfectionists, this is for you!) Try assigning a specific time limit to each task, and don’t exceed that limit. Your schedule may not allow you to rework anything but the most important projects. Creating job flyers for your latest round of postings? Give yourself an hour to do the best job you can, and then move on. Also set times in the morning and afternoon to check and answer email. Checking messages all day can easily eat into time allotted to more critical tasks.

You can’t change time, but you can change how you manage it. And while improving your time management can help you stay focused, even the most organized people have underproductive days. Keep your chin up, do your best, and remember it’s OK to Google “robotics” now and again, just in case!

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