Are you still at work at 8 o’clock in the evenings? You still haven’t finished the tasks you set for yourself for the day? Many of us struggle with time management and it takes effort, patience and skills to master it. When managing teams, working with fantastic experts or candidates, or by simply observing others can teach us a thing or two about efficiency and work-life balance. Follow these three steps (and a bonus!) and see how these small, easy to implement action points can make a real difference in your life.
1. Failing to plan is planning to fail
Plan your day the day before. Don’t allow yourself the opportunity to worry about the next day during your free time. Spend the evening with relaxation and family. You need this time for yourself to recharge. Write down what you need to do before you leave the office and know that when you come back the next day, you have an action plan ready.
Some find that entering everything into their calendar helps. Some don’t find the idea of a calendar helpful and have a whiteboard at their desks where they use a grid and list their to-dos and tick them off as they go. If you despise technology and have no wall to display a whiteboard – buy a nice planner and use that to keep you on top of things.
Don’t make the daily plan too vague. An entry that says: “Work on business plan” is hazy. Narrow it down to hourly slots “From 10 am to 11 am work on business plan”.
Set yourself goals in ways that you can tick off and move on from.
2. Use buffer zones
Do you get to the office at 8 o’clock, remove your jacket, slam into your chair and start typing the first e-mail at 08:01? Didn’t think so. Allow a buffer zone between appointments and tasks. Be realistic and accept that it’s smart to allow for short breaks, quick calls, people popping in for a quick chat.
3. Manage your expectations
Be objective and set your goals to be clear, obtainable, tangible, quantifiable. Once you’re satisfied that you’ve achieved that, you can say: “Task complete. I can move on”. You’ll be ticking off more items on your list if you do it this way.
Bonus tip - It’s okay to say no
People regularly come to you for a “quick” question or talk about something that will only “take a minute”? It never does, does it? Learn and use these words: “I’m in the middle of something right now; let’s rearrange this for later”. If you are a yes person, ticking off your daily plan becomes a daily mission impossible. Learn to say no and focus on what you have to do right now that’s on your list.