Have you found yourself at the end of the day sitting at your desk while everyone else passes by, waving and going home? Are you the one on Friday afternoon, who someone thinks will work all weekend if they drop an important report on your desk that’s due by Monday morning? If you are one of those people—and trust me, we’ve all been there—one of the lessons to learn is that we must establish good habits to manage our time better. How do we do that? Here are five tips for better time management:
Clutter is anything that is unnecessary: documents, books or things that are stored. Just throw it away. Go through everything, and if it’s not needed now, archive it. Get it out of your sight. If I am trying to focus on one thing, and have little stacks of paperwork or reading material, I keep looking at my stacks thinking, “There’s something over there I’ve got to do.” They redirect my attention and pull me away from things that need to get done.
Avoid Energy Suckers and Toxic People
You know who they are. They are the people who come by your desk and just go on and on and on about a problem or drama they want you to fix or change. It persistently sucks your energy, and takes your focus away from things that have to get done. It also eats at your time while your clock is ticking away.
Pick a paper or electronic system to keep track of your time. After years of switching from Day Timers to wall calendars to electronic calendars, I eventually found using all three works best for me. Find what works for you and establish a system of use.
Block Out Working Time
If you have committed to scheduled meetings from January to December, go ahead and block that time out on your calendar. You need to make sure to protect that time so that nothing else overlaps it.
Block Non-Working Time
It doesn’t matter when you block out some down time, just be sure to do it every day. Take time in the morning, at lunch or later in the afternoon to meditate, work out, walk, read a book or listen to music. That includes vacations, also. Most people don’t even take vacations because they haven’t planned for them, or put them on the calendar. If we get things on the calendar, we more likely will get those things done.
Bonus: How to Break Bad Habits. We usually find ourselves working overtime, weekends or holidays because we’ve established bad habits. We lose track of time, or we are watching and modeling others who have bad habits. Often the culture in a work environment is one of intimidation or peer pressure to work long hours, to work through lunch, holidays or weekends. That’s a bad habit, and we don’t have to do it. Break the habit. If there’s intimidation or peer pressure in your environment, get over it and protect yourself. It’s up to you to establish good work habits, and to control your time management.
If you found these tips from Jennifer Bridges, PMP (formerly, Jennifer Whitt) of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in her self-paced, downloadable courses at PDUs2Go.com.
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