Did you know that February is Time Management Month? This shouldn’t be such a well-kept secret as many of us, even us NYC Professional Organizers, periodically lose sight of the fact that there are only 168 hours in a week. Once you deduct time for sleeping and other essential activities like meals, commuting and possibly exercising, you have already used up at least 45% of the time available each week. My objective in having you embrace this concept is not to increase your stress level, but to have you focus on the big picture.
Once you accept that there is a finite amount of time available each week to tackle your to-do list which can contain a seemingly endless list of tasks to be done at work and at home, you are in a better position to make changes that will maximize your productivity. After all, while we can’t really manage time, we can manage ourselves… our habits, our tasks and our plan for tackling them.
Here are 5 NYC Professional Organizer approved tips which will help you effectively maximize the remaining hours that are available each day.
- Track your time. Do you really know how long each of the tasks on your to-do list will take? Start out by keeping track of how you spend your time each day for a week. The answer should be easy for those that are repetitive tasks, while a conservative guesstimate will be needed for those that are new. Be sure to include all activities from phone calls to email to meetings to time spent brainstorming your approach to a client presentation. At the end of the week, review the log and assess the amount of time spent on each task based on the importance of the tasks.
- Have a daily plan. Now that you know how much time should be allotted for each task, be sure to block time in your calendar accordingly and to leave time in between tasks and meetings for the unexpected. Take 30 minutes at the end of each day or first thing in the morning to review your schedule for the next day. Unfinished tasks should be rescheduled if they are still a priority. Pay particular attention to tasks that seemed to get pushed from day to day. This is a sign that they may not belong on your current to-do list or could be delegated.
- Learn the art of delegation. Delegation is a key time management strategy for this NYC Professional Organizer. Carefully review your to-do list and identify those tasks that could be done by a colleague, your staff or a family member. By delegating, the tasks will not only be completed by the desired deadline, you are also are also providing colleagues and family members with an opportunity to contribute, learn and participate…. you aren’t just asking them to take on a seemingly undesirable task. In addition, you can then focus on what you do best.
- Set limits. Identify the 1 or 2 top priorities for each day and be sure that an appropriate amount of time has been allotted for addressing them. These are the must do tasks for the day and need to be the focus. Once you have checked them off of your list, you can move on to other tasks requiring more immediate attention. If need be, take steps to combat procrastination as well disruptions.
- Create Boundaries. In order to stay focused on that priority task, it may be necessary to eliminate distractions. Close your office door. Let the phone calls go to voicemail. Turn off the email alerts for the duration. Schedule a time to check emails and listen to voicemails/return calls for later in the day. The objective is to maximize the time that you have carved out of your schedule to get this work completed.
Looking for additional strategies to make the most of your schedule? View our additional time management tricks.
Are there other tips that you have used that have been helpful? Please share them with me and my NYC professional organizing clients.