Too Much To Do, Too Little Time To Do It: Learning to Manage Your Time

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Too Much To Do, Too Little Time To Do It: Learning to Manage Your Time

“Too many things on your plate.” “Seems like you are juggling a lot of things.” “I have a lot to do this week, where do I begin?”  These are some of the phrases I’ve been hearing and using a lot lately. As a project coordinator, many of my tasks are time sensitive and handling multiple projects can be daunting. I’m always looking for new ways to manage my time better. Recently, I’ve started listening to podcasts and Ted Talks to gain some perspective on how to work more efficiently. Some things I’ve learned:

What is time management?

Many people believe that time management is exactly what is says- managing your time. Others, however, believe that time management is a myth. Think about it- time doesn’t change. There will always be 24 hours in a day- no more and no less. All we can actually manage is ourselves and what we do with the time we have. This is often referred to as “managing your time demands”- a concept that I lean towards more.  Managing your time demands requires individual commitment in understanding at a personal level how we want to use the time we have and making sure the time demands are met.

How can we get better at managing ourselves and thus improving our lifestyle?

Plan ahead: Knowing what you want to accomplish in a specified timeframe sets you up for success. Have a plan ready and make sure you have the means and access to those means to make the plan successful. Time spent in planning, will be rewarded with more free time later.

Focus on one task at a time: Multitasking isn’t necessarily good for productivity. Generally speaking, people cannot do multiple important tasks at the same time with maximum productivity. I, too, believe that focusing on one task until I’m caught up and then moving on to the next one is the way to go.

Minimize interruptions:  Mark yourself busy when you want to concentrate on a certain task that requires your full attention. Snooze notifications and put your phone out of sight to avoid checking it compulsively.

Use reminders:  I have friends/colleagues who use calendars to set reminders for themselves or use OneNote to track their due dates. I use a combination of a project management tool and Calendar reminders to remind myself of upcoming and important tasks and events. Figure out what works best for you and stick with that method.

Embrace templates: No need to re-invent the wheel. Find out what templates work for you and for your projects. This can save you a ton of time.

Learn to say no: When your time is limited, saying yes to one thing may mean you also have to say no to a number of other things. Think what you really want to say yes to- what you really want to do and learn to say no. That’s not to say you shouldn’t embrace opportunity. Just know that it’s okay to turn down that invitation… or coffee… or Skype chat, when time demands something else from you.

Take a break: Most people assume the harder and longer you work, the more you get done. True, to an extent, but sometimes you need to take a break, gather your thoughts, refresh yourself and get back to the task at hand.

Managing time demands is not very difficult as a concept, but it’s surprisingly hard to do in practice. Once you start, however, you will immediately feel its benefits. Do you have any tips for managing time demands?
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