The Essence of Professional Time Management
Spring brings a sense of rejuvenation, a lighter step, and happier spirits to many people. It’s also a great time to clean up your schedule and get your “professional” self in order. There are multiple time management books, software, and programs to purchase, of course, but the following tips may be just what the doctor ordered. Plan your time: Whether it’s in the evening, morning, over lunch, or every weekend, develop a regular time to plan. This task should become as routine as brushing your teeth.
- Prioritize: Choose the most important tasks and assign them to your best time of day to accomplish them – when you are at optimal levels of energy and clear thinking.
- Allow adequate time, but set a limit: Giving yourself deadlines can help you stay on task.
- Delegate: Fulfill your professional responsibilities and do them well, but don’t do someone else’s job. Let others do what they do best while you accomplish what you do best. Even if delegating means hiring someone – do it.
- Allow time for the unexpected: When you are organized and operating on a plan, you will be able to take those unexpected twists in stride.
- Pay attention to the emotions/situations that trigger an interruption to your work. Are you more easily sidetracked when you are frustrated, anxious, in a hurry, hungry?
- Set the first 30-60 minutes each morning to clear out all the little stuff – answer email, schedule appointments, write a prep list for your appointments, etc. Then put away your phone, turn off your email chime, put out your do not disturb sign, and focus on your priority project.
- Learn to be mindful – fully focused on and aware of what you are doing.
- Learn to say no to phone calls, internet browsing, email checks, or whatever else doesn’t move you toward accomplishing your priorities.
- Write out your definition of success; your personal vision. Balance your to-do list against it.
- Are the things you have to do; the things you have to do? Get a “second opinion” from yourself – learn to keep what matters on your schedule and ditch the rest.
- Allow enough time when scheduling tasks and appointments. If you allow 30 minutes for a task that consistently takes 40, you are building up unnecessary Be honest about time and then add wrap up time. Pausing at the end of a task to tie up the ends and go over your prep for the next task increases your sense of peace and calmness.
- Enjoy each task – sure some things are more pleasurable than others, but even if the only enjoyment is knowing you can cross it off when you’re finished – enjoy it.
- Learn to say no to tasks that are someone else’s busy work. If it doesn’t fit who you are, where you are headed, or your assigned agenda, say no.
- Eat healthy: Start your day off with protein. Drink enough water. Keep fresh veggies, fruit, and nuts handy. Avoid sugar crashes. Don’t eat on the run. Enjoy your meals.
- Get exercise: Even if it’s just a 15-minute walk at lunch, you will have more energy and clearer thinking, which enhances time management if you get exercise.
- Get sufficient rest and sleep: this means putting work aside on the weekends. Go the bed the same time every night and get up the same time every morning – 7-8 hours later..
- Foster an attitude of gratitude: Expressing gratitude for the little things in life creates a sense of well-being, which creates energy. All in all, happier people get more done – and enjoy doing it.