Updated: May 14
Whether you are employed by a company or self-employed, you may not be taking advantage of some of the time-tested best tips on managing your workload. Here are the top tips on how to make time work for you.
Tip #1: Do a calendar review every Friday afternoon or Monday morning
As you wind down your work week, review what you have accomplished during the week and set objectives for the following week.
Reviewing your calendar can give you a sense of accomplishment and prepare you for even greater success and satisfaction the following week.
In setting objectives for the following week, include meetings, projects and tasks that you would like to complete in the next week. You may include the other parts of your life in an all-encompassing schedule. This may include reminders for family time or obligations, health, exercise, time with friends, volunteer activities, sports and errands (dry cleaners, etc). Some of my clients even schedule in a movie or TV night that includes family or friends!
Tip #2: Don’t be a slave to e-mail
Schedule in three blocks of time each day for email. Time-tested best: Three 30-minute chunks – one at the start of the work day, a second before or after lunch and a third mid-afternoon. Schedule whatever works for you based on your workload, customers and occupation. If your organization/team has a committed response time, break these into smaller chunks more often. You get the idea – allow yourself to be fully present in whatever you’re doing. That maximizes efficiency and decreases stress. Also, turn the email notifier bell off. It acts as a distraction and takes you out of what you are doing to respond to something that likely can be left until your next email check-in time.
Tip#3: Be reasonable in what can be accomplished in your work day
Don’t take on the world! Be reasonable about what can be done in any chunk of time. And always build in time for the unplanned. Give yourself breathing space. And then leave for home more relaxed.
Tip #4: Schedule your day
We all have interruptions and a degree of unexpected meetings and situations. Plan for them. Yes, plan for them. Start each morning with a schedule review.
Add in scheduled meetings
Add in time to view and respond to email
Schedule project/task times based on your weekly objectives
Leave some flex time for interruptions, impromptu meetings, etc.
Tip #5: Evaluate your attendance in any meeting before confirming
We are totally over-meetinged. In session after session I ask for a show of hands of who feel they go to too many meetings. Consistently it is between 90% and 100% of the people polled. Do you attend too many meetings?
When you receive a meeting invitation ask yourself:
Do I need to be there?
If so, do I need to attend the entire meeting? Could I attend the portion of the meeting that pertains to me/my team?
If it is for my information only, and there is no input required, can I just receive the minutes from the meeting?
If my presence is not required, can I send someone in my place?
Tip #6: Ask for help!
Why get stressed out and overloaded? When the stress and pressure increase, ask a colleague for help. And offer to reciprocate when they need help. If you question doing this, consider the opposite: a colleague approaches you to ask for help. How would you respond? If we know it works both ways, in most cases we are willing to help out. Remember though, it must be of benefit to both of you. He/she needs to know that they can come to you when in need of help too!
Tip #7: Know when to say ‘no’
Saying no can be ever so empowering. When someone makes a request for your time and effort, evaluate the request. Consider whether it is part of your job, how much time it will take, whether you have the skills to do it, if it utilizes your greatest strength areas and how necessary it is. You must choose in the moment whether to agree to do it or not. Your intuition and gut feelings will guide you in the right direction. Following this will usually give you the response that is best for both of you.
Tip #8: Take a time out before you need it
Being stressed has a huge negative impact on productivity. As you feel your stress level begin to increase, take time out. Unplug from your work for a moment or a few moments…until you are ready to plug back in. Being stressed impacts your interactions too. If engaging with people is the major component of your job, know your own stress signs and take time out before your stress becomes apparent to your customer. It will benefit you, your customer and your productivity.
Tip #9: Be fully present