For many people, there never seems to be enough hours in the day to fit in a busy workload. Often, this can lead to feeling overwhelmed, stressed and anxious about going to work. However, by developing new time management habits, managing your workload can potentially become easier day by day with these simple tricks!
To Do Lists
First on the list is ‘to-do lists’. Most people might scoff at the idea of writing something down on paper and see it as an unnecessary waste of time. However, to do lists have been proved to increase productivity, feelings of accomplishment and make you more energised to complete future tasks. So, always work from a list. When something new comes up, add it to the list before you do it. A good idea is to write your list the night before, or at the end of the workday. That way, you can move everything you have not yet accomplished onto your list for the next day.
As you work through the day, tick off the items on your list as you complete them. This activity gives you a visual picture of accomplishment. It generates a feeling of success and forward motion.
Set Realistic Deadlines
A common downfall for most is taking on too many tasks at once. Thus trying to juggle them and failing to meet the required deadlines. By not allowing enough time to complete a multi-task job, projects can fail and people’s careers get side-tracked or torpedoed. They hope for the best, trust to luck and don’t allow a sufficient cushion of time to complete every step of the project. As a result, the project fails.
When planning your workload, you need to expect the unexpected. Throughout the day, emails will come in, phones will ring and by the end of the day you could have numerous new tasks to complete. By allowing yourself enough time to complete tasks and accounting extra time for the unexpected you will save yourself a lot of stress in the long run.
When setting realistic deadlines, consider the following aspects:
- Are there any other immediate priorities that need to be dealt with first?
- Will I be asked to do other jobs by my manager?
- Will I be relying on anyone else to complete the task? (i.e. data from a colleague)
- How long will it take those people to provide what is required?
- Can anyone else help?
- Can I delegate certain tasks?
Dedicate a Time to Certain Tasks
Forming a key time management habit will help to focus time and energy on one task at one time. This will help to avoid tasks overflowing with each other and juggling multiple tasks at the same time. A good task to do this with is checking emails. A smart idea is to manage your email only twice a day or less. Check it once in the morning and answer any new messages. This will free up your morning for the most important things you have to do for the day and not get you bogged down and distracted. Check it once more in the late afternoon after lunch. After that, leave it alone until tomorrow and focus on the other tasks you need to complete.
Secondly, another key time management skill is to get into the habit of completing the most important tasks first. This is the golden rule of time management. Each day, identify two or three tasks that are the most crucial to complete, and do those first. Once you’re done, the day has already been a success. You can move on to other things, or you can let them wait until tomorrow. You’ve finished the essential.
Track Your Performance
Being organised saves tons of time, and you don’t have to be the most ultra-organised person in the world either. Systems aren’t complicated to implement. Create a filing system for documents. Make sure all items have a place to be stored in, whether it’s a server online or a physical filing system. Streamline, streamline, streamline.
If you do a weekly audit of your filing system, you will be able to see where your time was spent that week, or what tasks were taking up a lot of your time. This will help in the future when it comes to upcoming deadlines, setting aside time for tasks and managing your to do lists.
Delegate Where You Can
Learning how to delegate is vital when you have a heavy workload. Even if you’re the one who is accountable for the completion of a task, it may not need to be you who gets the job done – so examine your workload and identify logical opportunities to delegate bits and pieces to someone else on your team. As long as they have the time and the necessary skill set to do the job in question, you can outsource one item on your agenda with a clear conscience and confidence in a quality outcome.
These 5 tips should help you kick-start your workload into something more manageable. However, if you’re really feeling the weight of your heavy workload, sit down with your manager or employer to let them know you’re struggling. You could even present a workable solution to them if you have something in mind. Until you speak up, your struggle may go entirely unnoticed – and by refusing to bury your head, you can work with your superior to find a solution that serves everyone.
Burnout in the workplace is very real. With the rise of technology we’re living in a world where we can always be connected to the workplace. This constant connectivity can make it hard to switch off and lead to burnout. Find out How to Prevent Team Burnout in just 5 easy steps.