Time management is a skill that most employers look for in candidates during the hiring process.
They want to be sure that whoever they hire will make the most of their time on the clock to meet deadlines and production needs.
However, time management skills don’t always come naturally to everyone. Here are some things you can do to start taking charge of your time and productivity:
Create a List of Priorities
At the start of your day or before you begin a big project, take the time to write out a list of the tasks you need to complete. Order them by priority, with the most important being first on your list. Try to estimate the time it will take you to complete each to-do item. This will give you an idea of what you can realistically accomplish in a day and the total time everything will take to complete.
Putting this list on paper gives you a visual of what is to come. Use it as a motivational and accountability tool to keep you on track. It only takes a few minutes to do and will save you time later in the day when you need to know what to start working on next. Plus, the satisfaction that comes from crossing completed items off your list is unmatched.
Be Realistic with your Abilities
When thinking about how to structure your day, be honest about how long things will take to complete. You may want to be a superhero and get everything done as fast as possible, but you are setting yourself up for disappointment if you try to take on too much.
Instead, use your time wisely to maximize what you can get done without sacrificing quality. If you have an especially lengthy project to tackle, it might be smarter to break it up over a few days rather than completing it from start to finish over one shift. You can still feel a sense of accomplishment when you finish each section – and keep your brain power fresh in the process.
Don’t Try to Multi-Task
Yes, this does go against some of the most cliché suggestions for resume builders and interview tips. However, research really does show that multi-tasking is hurtful to productivity levels and accuracy. In fact, most of us aren’t even capable of doing it effectively. Rather, we end up task-switching, which consists of rapidly switching from task to task.
To get things done quickly and correctly, the best thing you can do is to focus on one task at a time. Find the delicate balance between compartmentalization and awareness. Acknowledge that you have other things to do but be able to tune them out when you need to turn your attention to something else.
Increasing focus means removing the things that try to steal your attention away from the task at hand. Put your phone away and decrease chatter with the people around you. Additionally, if you have the option, try to pick a work location that inspires your creativity, relaxes you and gives you space to think.
It may also help to block out focus time on your calendar. This communicates to your coworkers that you might not be immediately available to collaborate. When choosing your focus block, make sure to pick a time that maximizes on your energy. For example, if you are a night owl, you might want to consider working a third shift job.
Give yourself something to look forward to once you hit certain milestones. This doesn’t need to be anything big or expensive. A trip to the ice cream shop or buying a new book could be enough to motivate you to get things done.
When you turn work into a game, it makes it more fun to give your full effort to the task at hand. You know yourself best, so choose milestones and rewards that really will incentivize you to work harder.