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Do you often feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day? Are never-ending to-do lists making you feel stressed and overwhelmed? Many of us feel these pressures at work and have at some point experienced a workload that seems impossible to get through.
The good news is you can alleviate some of these pressures simply by getting organised, successfully managing your workload and effectively prioritising your tasks.
Being able to manage your time effectively and prioritise your workload will not only make you feel better, but it will also enable you to achieve more at work. Employers also value time management skills and look for them in the new talent that they recruit.
TOP TIP: If you have an interview be prepared to give an example of your time management skills as it in one of a number of common interview questions.
So, what are the secrets to successfully managing your time and prioritising work?
To-do lists can be both your best friend and your worst enemy. On the one hand, it’s always better to write your tasks down as opposed to trying to remember information. This will prevent you from forgetting tasks and details. On the other hand, having one long and mighty to-do list can feel overwhelming.
The best way to keep track of your tasks is to always write them down in your diary. Rather than having one long to-do list that you’re always adding to, have a list for each day of the week.
When you have your list of tasks for the day, establish an order of importance. If you’re really busy and are struggling to establish an order, you can always ask your boss what they want you to prioritise. Once you have your order you can start with the most important task and work your way down. If you don’t manage to complete your whole list, move the remaining less-important tasks to the following day.
Consider each task on your to-do list and estimate how much time they will take. Be realistic, as overly-optimistic estimations will only see you missing your deadlines. This way, at the start of each day you will know exactly what you can achieve in the time you have. When you get to the end of the day and have successfully met your deadlines and completed your tasks you’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment.
For most of us, it’s almost impossible to make it through the day without interruptions. While you may have planned and structured your day, you should always be ready to adapt your plans without feeling too stressed about it.
If you’re working on a tight deadline, then try to ensure you only allow time for important interruptions or queries.
Emails can be extremely distracting and will often break our focus. When a new email comes in, it’s often tempting to stop what you’re doing to read it straight away. Then you might leave it in your inbox for later.
For some, responding quickly to emails is a necessary part of the job. However, if you can switch off email alerts and allocate yourself times in the day to check your emails, do it. If someone needs you urgently, they’re more likely to give you a call than to send you an email anyway, so you can afford to have an hour or so away from your inbox.
Trying to juggle a number of tasks at the same time isn’t beneficial. Your mind won’t be able to focus on a single task so you’ll actually spend more time on things when you’re multitasking than you would if you gave each task your full attention.
It’s a well-known rule that 80 percent of effects come from only 20 percent of causes. This means that 80 percent of your successes come from only 20 percent of the work you do. If you can prioritise the 20 percent of your workload that really makes a big impact then you will see bigger and better results.
Good time management will help you to achieve more and feel good about your work. Put these organisation techniques into practice and see if you start to notice a difference in your happiness and results.