Between your emails, meetings, and phone calls, completing your daily “must do” tasks can seem like an impossible goal. Who hasn’t looked down at that checklist and cringed when you see the same project, week after week, at the top of the list? You know it needs to get done, but somehow it never does.
By changing a few simple steps in your daily routine, you can grab the reigns on your time management and get your projects under control. Here are 3 ways to get started:
Check Your Calendar
Typical morning: you arrive at your office, hot coffee in hand, and sit down to check your emails. Soon after, you glance at the clock and you’re late for your 11 o’clock meeting. Where did the morning go?
Before checking your emails, listening to voicemails, or reviewing your task list, do this: check your calendar. By getting in front of your calendar first thing in the morning every day, you are reminding yourself of where you and your projects are in time. Visualizing your timeline helps put into perspective reasonable goal-making and can soothe the anxiety of feeling like you don’t have enough time to get the job done.
Make a List
Grab your favorite pen and a pad of paper and list out everything you need to get done today. Write it all out—responding to tough emails, setting time aside for researching or conceptualizing new projects, and even jumping on LinkedIn to check your direct messages.
Then, list out secondary tasks. Have a meeting next week at which you are presenting? Throw the presentation outline and PowerPoint template choice on your list. If you fly through your “must-dos” quicker than you imagined, you won’t waste any time finding your next project.
Finally, breakdown large projects into mini-tasks. List the project’s name and underneath list each task on its own line no matter its size or importance. Checking off each item gives you a sense of where you are in the process and a feeling of accomplishment, which can help maintain your momentum.
Set an Early Deadline
You’ve been assigned a job you’re not thrilled about and aren’t 100% sure where to start. It happens more often than we’d like, but you still have to get it done. Take whatever the actual due date is and set your deadline for 1 week before that date. Then map out, week by week, which individual tasks you need to accomplish to get you closer to completion.
You have to write a 25-page white paper for your company blog.
- Due: October 31
- Deadline: October 24
- Week 1: Complete research and collect sources.
- Week 2: Draft outline and introduction.
- Week 3: Write it!
- Week 4: Step away from the project, let it breathe, then review and make edits.
When you hit week 3 and the work is done, knowing that you still have a full week to let it sit and revisit when you have a clear head is a wonderful thing!
What are some other ways to improve your efficiency? Organize your desk and filing cabinets, set aside time to review project timelines, and remember to give yourself breaks throughout the day.