Tackle Your Never-Ending To-Do List
15 Lessons in Time Management
By Joan Graci
An inability to manage time efficiently can leave anyone feeling stressed, overwhelmed and unproductive, but what are the practical techniques that can be used to gain your power back from the “List.” Time management means getting the right things done, not more things done. It’s about identifying the goals that are most important right now and the most efficient ways to accomplish those goals. Here are 15 lessons to accomplish more goals in your personal and professional life to become the best version of yourself.
You can’t possibly get everything done on your To-Do List, so stop trying.
It’s a tough reality to come to terms with but a necessary one, especially for women in a fast-paced environment. By simply understanding that you can’t do it all, you’ll bypass unnecessary stress and be more equipped to check off the most important items from your list.
Learning how to prioritize is key.
When under the gun, it’s important to learn how to identify which tasks directly contribute to fulfilling immediate goals – like arranging a doctor’s appointment – and which ones – like organizing files – can be reserved for a less strenuous day.
No two brains are alike.
People listen and hear things differently, which always leads to communication issues and misunderstandings, ultimately contributing to lost productivity. When giving or receiving directives, make sure you or the individual receiving instructions repeats them back to ensure everyone is on the same page. Also, try taking a behavioral assessment – they work wonders for understanding different communication styles and how to approach them.
By knowing when to multitask, you minimize the risk of shotty work.
We’ve been taught that multi-tasking is a crucial soft skill. But the truth is working several complex projects simultaneously can have disastrous effects on the brain. Cognitive ability is best when spent on one task at a time. While it’s okay to multitask sometimes, many projects require your full attention. A productive individual knows when it’s okay to take a phone call while finishing up an email, and when they need to close themselves off from the world to finish a large-scale project.
Being a workaholic isn’t always a good thing.
Taking the time to step away from your work and relax can be the perfect medicine for an overloaded brain. When faced with a desk piled mile-high with paperwork or up against a difficult problem, sometimes it’s best (for your productivity levels and your sanity) to take a deep breath and come back to it with fresh eyes.
More hours do not equal more productivity.
I’m sure you’ve heard all about the decline of the 9-5 worker. Companies have been embracing flexible work hours and remote work options to appeal to working moms and women in the workforce. Studies show that people work smarter and better when they’re judged on the outcomes of their projects rather than the time they spend doing them.
Coming to terms with your own limits makes you a pro.
Some people lack organizational skills and are bogged down at the end of the week by surroundings that appear to have encountered a tornado. Others are so detail-oriented that the bigger picture often escapes them. Whatever your limits are, figure them out soon and own them – not everyone’s perfect. What makes someone successful is how they respond and deal with inadequacies.
Inhale today’s potential and exhale yesterday’s failures.
Beating yourself up over a bad performance review or a fight with a friend will surely put a damper on your work ethic. I know it’s easier said than done, but try to view each new day as a new opportunity.
There’s a reason why successful people always ask, “What’s the point?”
Great leaders and thinkers don’t have time to take every meeting that comes their way or seize each and every opportunity. They achieve their goals by ensuring that everything they do is purposeful and results-oriented.
We deal better with hard deadlines.
Deadlines help keep us on track and organized. Giving yourself an open-ended task always leads to chaos, missed opportunity, and frustrating interactions. People are most impactful when they know exactly what they need to do and when it needs to get done.
Knowing your “peak hours” will enhance productivity.
Everyone works to a different tune. It’s important to become self-aware by studying your own behavior to find out what times during the day you work best. Are you a night owl or an early bird? If you love watching the sunrise, arrange to work on strenuous projects in the a.m. and reserve easy stuff for later on.
Delegating doesn’t make you lazy – it makes you efficient.
Die-hard perfectionists often shy away from delegating tasks to others. If you’re swamped with a project or you run into an issue that’s not within your jurisdiction, ask for help. Trying to be a superwoman and accomplish everything will lead to mistakes and wasted time.
Procrastinating is ok…sometimes.
Everyone has parts of their day they absolutely hate. Ease into that part by accomplishing the tasks you enjoy most first. By the time you get to those less engaging projects, you’ll be “in the zone” and more likely to crush those insufferable responsibilities.
Tracking your time is the best way to hold yourself accountable.
By logging the time you spend on certain projects throughout the day, you can see how your time is really being spent. People are always surprised by how often distractions and white noise get them off track.
There’s always a way.
If you don’t trust your social media addiction and are on a tight deadline, find an app that will hold you accountable. The Cold Turkey app, for example, blocks Internet access for a specified amount of time so you have no other choice but to get work done.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joan Graci is the President and Owner of APA Solutions, Upstate New York’s first and only neuroscience-driven human capital consulting firm transforming the organizational landscape of today. Leveraging her continued education in the field of neuroscience combined with three decades in the recruiting space, Joan has spent time developing on-demand, science-based solutions to the people pains of today.