May 30, 2013
Top time management tips and tricks
It's summertime (almost), and the living is easy (almost).
You might be looking forward to a vacation. Or you might be dreading vacation because time off -- yours and your co-workers' -- creates such major logjams of work that the break seems more trouble than it's worth.
But time off is important! And necessary. So to help make sure that summer R&R doesn't pass you by, try some of these classic time management tips. (Yes, you've heard them before. But they're still good.)
- Learn to differentiate between the important and the urgent. What's important is not always urgent. What's urgent is not always important.
- If a task takes less than five minutes, do it right away. If it takes longer, put it on your to-do list.
- Set time limits for routine tasks. Work tends to fill whatever amount of time you have.
- Aim to handle pieces of paper only once. Same for emails. Read 'em and deal with 'em.
- Delegate wherever and whenever you can.
- Organize and declutter your workspace so you don't waste time looking for things.
- Deal with email at set times each day, if possible. If you must check them as they arrive, limit sessions to 10 minutes.
- Cut up tasks into chunks. Order the chunks by importance. Work on one chunk at a time.
- Before you check your email or voice mail, devote a solid hour to your most important task.
- For tasks that require major focus, take refuge in a conference room or go to the library.
- Schedule demanding tasks for the time of day when you're most alert.
- All things being equal, do the hardest, least fun task first. Just get it over with.
- Establish efficient systems for your routine tasks, and stick to them.
- Do people wander into your workspace to chat? Set a three-minute egg timer and let them know they'll have to leave when the sand runs out.
- Use down time (e.g., waiting for meetings to begin) to update your to-do list or answer emails.
- Create the work environment that works for you. Adjust the lighting, fix your chair, turn off the email ping, get that cup of tea. Set the stage and go.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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