Time management is an essential skill that many of us have, unfortunately, NOT mastered. It’s the reason why we’re late for work, why meetings run long and why we usually can’t get our butts out of that office chair by 5:00 PM. We then compromise by working through lunch or, worse yet, working on the weekends. Managing your time at work these says is less about keep work strictly at work (because, let’s be honest, who can afford to do that anymore when we are so connected?) but keeping a healthy work life balance with effective task management. Let’s get started with a few basics that will help you establish a foundation for helping you get what needs to be done on time everyday of the week.
Set yourself up for four solid hours of work each day.
I know, your overachieving self probably aims to get in a full eight hours of work done each day. But just think of all the legitimate distractions you face during the 9-to-5 like meetings, last minute requests, urgent fixes and technology issues that may prevent you from actually getting work done. An once your work flow is interrupted, it takes a while to get back into the groove of it. If you’ve set yourself up for more work that you can realistically finish in one day, you 1) end up staying much later than intended and 2) set yourself up for feeling of failure and disappointment. Be realistic with what you can humanly handle and set those expectation with your colleagues and peers. Make a to-do list for your weekly tasks and projects and reinstate those feelings of accomplishment as you check more and more things off that list!
Do a 4pm wind-down.
Set aside the hour before your workday ends to wrap up. Don’t set any meetings for this time. Go through your Producteev tasks, emails and if someone is making a request, notify them that you will get back to them first thing tomorrow morning. If you coworkers are sending you last minute requests frequently, you should share this list with them as well! Make a generic checklist of all the things that need to wrap up everyday, focus on that, and give yourself a pat on the back as you wrap up and leave the office at 4:59 PM.
Repeat after me: “There will always be work.”
You won’t ever really finish everything that needs to be done. The best you can do is prepare and schedule yourself for the work that needs to be done to meet those deadlines. Once you acknowledge that there will always be works that lingers at the end of the day (and know that you can address that the next morning) you will feel a huge weight lift from your shoulders. Reorganize tasks, give yourself a much needed break and prepare for tomorrow!
These mantras will not resonate with everyone, but if you can take away one thing from this, know that you can achieve a better work/life balance with just a little organization in your day.
Until then, stay productive!