You crawl into work. Settle into your chair. Turn to your co-worker, ask how their evening was and get their take on the latest Perez release. Now that you’re caught up, you casually look out the window and wonder what you’ll make for dinner that evening. All that thinking about food reminds you that you haven’t yet had your morning coffee. Off you saunter, leaving your piles of work until the last minutes of the day at which point you pound on that keyboard like it owes you money to get your reports in on time as you wonder where the day went.
If this sounds your typical work day, it’s time for a time management makeover.
While it may feel like your roller-coaster routine works right now, learning to manage your time and workload in the office can help you skyrocket your job performance to new heights and avoid the stressful ups and downs.
To make the transition from caffeine-fuelled work rampage to the cool and collected colleague you know you can be; here are some tips for time management in the office.
Pull yourself together man
Chances are you don’t have a handy-dandy secretary sitting outside your cubicle ready to get your life in order. It’s up to you. First step to time management is figuring out how much time you have to manage. Get a calendar, an agenda, an online organizer, or whatever tools you need to break down your day into a logical schedule. Add dates, goals and deadlines to your schedule so you can visually see your work in terms of time and organize yourself accordingly.
Make lists not excuses
To-do lists aren’t just for soccer moms anymore. Trying to keep track of everything in your brain is a heavy task, but putting pen to paper ensures that those tasks won’t get forgotten. Writing down the things you have to do will help organize your projects so you can start getting things done. Be realistic when writing lists of your projects and try separating your items by what you need to do that day and what is not really time sensitive. Having a daily to-do list will help organize your time and give you a sense of what needs to be done when, ensuring your tasks don’t accumulate to an impossibly busy Friday afternoon.
Not only will lists help you stay on top of your workload, but the added satisfaction of being able to cross task after task off that list is so heartwarming that it made the official list of 100 awesome things.
Go after the big fish first
You may pride yourself on writing emails in perfect iambic pentameter but if you are spending all day penning a few short messages, it’s time to rethink your priorities. With your time organized and your lists written, separate the tasks that need to get done now from those that can wait until you have a spare moment. Try and get the little things out of the way first and prioritize the major projects over things that are less time sensitive.
Clear your mind…and your desk
As my mother always liked to tell me, “a clear work space makes for a clear mind.” Although I’m pretty sure she only told me that because she wanted me to clean my room, I have found it to be true. Once you’ve organized your time and your lists, get your workspace in order as well. That way, instead of calling in a search party every time you need to find your stapler, your things will be easy to find and your tasks easy to keep track of. Also, a clear desk always feels less stressful than one piled with papers.
Don’t be an enabler
If Facebook, G-chat, and Twitter commandeer most of your time at work, don’t even give them the option of coming aboard your work schedule. Instead of having Facebook or your personal email account open in the background, leave your distractions for your break and close them down when you get back to work.