The contemporary workplace is unlike any which have come before. The quest to remain competitive in our industries, gain the necessary education, and conduct a successful job search is equivalent to having a second job. But how does one find more time in an already full schedule? What are some techniques for making the most of your time for academic and professional success??
I conducted an interactive webinar this month to introduce 14 techniques you may or may not be using in your daily work routine to make better use of your time. Please contemplate the following:
Have you analyzed your work habits? Do you work better during the day or at night? With music or without? At home or in the library? These are just some of the things you should know about yourself to make the best use of your time working.
What does your work space look like? Is it cluttered or organized? Even if clutter doesn't bother you, can you really find things as quickly in a messy space?
Do you visualize your goals? This refers to the main reasons you do what you do, for example supporting your family, getting a promotion, or graduating. Find a symbolic representation or photo of these motivators and post them somewhere you will see them every day as a reminder of why you are working so hard.
How realistic are you? Are you a perfectionist? Are you able to set clear, attainable goals instead of wasting time striving for the impossible?
Do you create lists? Lists are a very simple way to physically acknowledge and organize the tasks at hand.
Can you prioritize? Do you know when things are urgent? Can you tell which tasks are more important than others?
Do you set deadlines? Most projects have a time frame. Organize yours on an actual calendar, giving yourself a small cushion of time to finish to your satisfaction.
Do you break down the tasks at hand? Very large tasks can be overwhelming and sometimes make your head spin as you waste hours trying to get started. Break these large projects into smaller tasks which you can jump right into, finish fairly quickly, and gain momentum to continue with other parts of the project.
Are you able to multi-task? When it comes to time management, multi-tasking has its place for the simpler tasks which can be accomplished in short time frames available to you. Read on the train ride home, pick up project supplies while doing your weekly grocery shopping, or make a list while you are at your child's track meet.
Do you know when the right time to focus is? Certain tasks require longer periods of time for the utmost concentration. Know when you have this amount of time with no interruptions to delve into these kinds of projects. Otherwise, don't waste your time trying.
Are you good at delegating? This means assigning tasks to others. This is not to say someone else can do your term paper for you, but perhaps they can cook dinner or mow the lawn, giving you more time for professional or academic tasks.
Can you say "no"? Are there favors you are doing or projects you have volunteered for which are not aligned with your long term goals and responsibilities? You may just have to learn how to say no sometimes.
Do you take breaks? Have you ever stared at your Word Document for an hour with 5 words on the page, because you were tired, frustrated, or your brain was fried? That hour would have been better spent taking a power nap, going outside for fresh air, or talking to your family, so you could then be energized or inspired to get to work.
Last one … do you reward yourself for a job well done?
When you finish a task, complete a term, or earn enough credits to graduate, do you have a reward set up for yourself? Anything from a bowl of ice cream to a trip to Hawaii, if in your budget, may be just the thing to keep you excited and motivated to make the best use of your time.
How many of these techniques can you incorporate into your routine? A few days after the presentation, I did a personal assessment of my own work space and time management strategies. Here's what I found:
Contact your career advisor Nancy Cheek for the recording of the time management presentation, as well as others related to professional development and the many programs offered at Saint Leo University's Center for Online Learning.