There is no doubt that stress starts to play a role when our busy schedules get on top of us. Effective planning of your time can help you keep on top of your workload and keep stress at bay.
Managing our time is not something many of us are well trained for and some of us manage better than others. Here’s eight simple tips you can do to manage your time better.
Don’t avoid the ugly tasks
Everyone has tasks that they don’t really enjoy doing; things they will do anything to avoid. The big tip here is to perform these tasks when you’re at your peak and keep procrastination at bay. If, for example, you’re more of a morning person and your concentration is lost later in the day, do those mind-numbing tasks earlier in the day and the tasks you enjoy later in the afternoon as your energy starts to fade.
Learn to prioritise
Effective use of time is all about prioritising your tasks and doing the most important things first. Try prioritising tasks with a to-do list as follows:
A = Top priority jobs – those to be completed today
B = Jobs that should be completed today
C = Jobs that you’d prefer to complete today but can be put off until tomorrow
D = Jobs where the deadline is some way off that can be completed later.
Keep it real
Keep your to-do list realistic; it will be overwhelming if it is too long. Break big tasks into manageable-sized pieces. If you’re having problems prioritising speak to your manager who will be able to clarify which task is more important or set ‘priority of tasks’ as an agenda item in your regular meetings.
Organise your immediate work area so that you don’t waste time searching for things. Your computer and hard copy documents should be filed in a logical way so that you can remember where everything is. And having a set process for filing means that shared files will be easily accessed by others in the workplace.
Check your email on a schedule
It’s not effective to read and answer every email as it arrives. Just because someone can contact you immediately doesn’t mean you have to respond to them right away. Most people want a predictable and reliable response, not an immediate response.
So if people know how long to expect to wait for an answer and they know how to reach you in an emergency, you can answer most types of email just a few times a day.
Learn to delegate
Delegation plays a defining role in being able to manage your workload. You need to be able to let go and trust your staff and/ or colleagues to take on part of your workload.
It can be difficult granting someone else responsibility, they make mistakes along the way and not do everything as you may have liked. However, with patience and guidance, delegation can alleviate less crucial part of your workload. This leaves you time to work on more important tasks and increases skills of staff.
Managing your time can sometimes be more about managing expectations from your manager and/or colleagues. While there may be occasions where you work overtime, this should be an exception rather than the rule. If you find that you are continually working more than a standard eight-hour day through no fault of your own, speak to your manager about:
- assigning extra resources
- delegating your workload to other employees
- hiring a temp or casual staff member.
Dare to be slow
A good time manager responds to some things more slowly. For example, someone who is doing the highest priority task is probably not answering incoming email while doing it, as there are more important tasks than email. We need to recognise that processing our work (evaluating what’s come in and how to handle it) and planning our work are also mission-critical tasks.
Source: This is an edited extract from ‘Managing Your Time’, available from AFA Care and Benestar at https://benestar.com/. For more information about accessing AFA Care resources available at Benestar please visit https://www.afa.asn.au/afa-care