“There are never enough hours in the day. How can I possibly get everything done?” If this sentiment sounds familiar, know that you’re not alone. We all know the feeling
of starting out each day determined to check things off the to-do list, only to find the checklist no shorter at five o’clock. Have no fear—we’re here to help!
Experiment with the following time management strategies in the new year. You may just make 2015 your most productive, effective, and stress-free year yet!
1. Prepare the day or night before.
Outline what you need to get done for the next day in order to start your morning off on the right foot. What are your priorities? Who do you need to connect with to get projects on the right track? Determining these next-day items before you leave for the night allows you to jump into work the next morning and immediately get the ball rolling.
2. Implement the 80-20 rule.
When applied to business and productivity, the 80-20 rule (the Pareto Principle) declares that approximately 20% of our actions produce 80% of results. Sit down and assess which tasks contribute most to your short- and long-term goals—those constitute your “20%” actions—and clear all unnecessary commitments off of your to-do list.
3. Track time spent on essential activities.
It is easy to underestimate the time necessary to complete certain actions and projects, which can lead to overscheduling and a frantic game of catch up. Avoid derailing your schedule by observing yourself for a week to nail down exactly how much time you spend on essential activities (your 20% commitments, as explained above). Then, rearrange your agenda to ensure that you’ve dedicated enough time to accomplishing these tasks.
4. Impose early deadlines.
Murphy’s Law can be colloquially summed up by the phrase “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” There’s nothing you can do to ensure that technology doesn’t fail you in your hour of need or that coworkers are not out of the office at inopportune moments, but you can be proactive and set deadlines earlier than necessary. This ensures that you’re not sweating if things do not go exactly according to plan, and will be sure to never miss a deadline due to unforeseen complications.
5. Delegate and ask for help.
One person can only do so much. Rather than forcing yourself to try to do it all, begin delegating tasks that do not require your personal attention. Or, if unable to assign projects to others, try reaching out to others for assistance. Leveraging colleagues’ strengths and knowledge can be a huge timesaver, not to mention a great relationship building opportunity!