Welcome to the first installment of Ask a Professional Organizer – my new monthly advice blog! Each month I will answer a few questions related to our monthly topic. This month I’m sharing key time management tips as I answer 3 frequently asked questions. Read on!
Q: I struggle with getting all of my tasks done each day. What is one thing I could implement to help me today?
I find that many of my clients are not being realistic concerning the number of tasks that they can actually complete in a day. I want to clarify that a clear distinction should be made between a task and a project. A project isn’t typically something that you’ll complete in one day and is comprised of a series of small tasks tackled in a specific order. I advise my clients to identify the most important 1 or 2 tasks, not projects, that must be completed each day and to focus on them first. As for the other tasks on their list, I suggest that they be grouped together by type of activity and the appropriate amount of time be scheduled for addressing them. For example, block 30 minutes in the late morning to make phone calls, process emails at the pre-scheduled times during the day, and so on.
Q: I hear a lot of talk about "prioritizing," but I'm not sure how to do that. How do I prioritize my tasks?
Three key points to keep in mind when prioritizing your work is the level of urgency associated with the task, the specific deadlines, and if the task is relevant to your goals. I advise clients to take a step back and review their entire to-do list (should be compiled into 1 list) and determine the urgency and importance of each of the tasks. In doing so, they typically find that there are certain tasks on the list that seemed like a good idea but really don’t need to be done. I suggest applying the Eisenhower Method when assessing the urgency/importance of your tasks and have shared information about it in this earlier blog. Another relevant exercise that will help you identify tasks that are essential is to track how you use your time for 7-10 days. When evaluating the data you will not only see how long certain activities are taking, you can also see how much of your time is being devoted to tasks related to your business and personal goals.
Q: I find myself spending a lot of time on social media. How do I balance that time with the workload that I have?
If the time being spent on social media during the work day isn’t job related, then establishing some new habits may be necessary. Logging into your accounts when you are doing a coffee run or on the way out to lunch could work as long as you log out once you’re back at your desk. Assuming that your company’s policies don’t prohibit it, you could even use a social media break as a reward when you have completed an especially difficult task that you procrastinated starting. In this case, I would highly recommend setting the timer on your phone for a specified amount of time and once the timer goes off it’s back to work. Should you have a flexible work situation where spending time on social media is not an issue providing that you are getting tasks completed in a timely manner, I would very definitely treat this like you handle processing emails. Schedule specific times of the day for checking in on social media and set a timer so you are limiting the amount of time spent connecting with your friends and colleagues.
Do you have a question for this Professional Organizer in NYC? Next month we will be talking about decluttering your workspace. You can send in your questions right here and then check back next month to see what new advice I shared!