For project managers, juggling your time between multiple clients and coworkers isn’t easy. But here are a few tips that have helped me be more successful with my time management:
1. Schedule your day. Take 10 – 15 minutes at the beginning of each day to map out a game plan for projects and personal tasks. Though your plan might not stick, it’s easier to meet your goals and deadlines when you have multiple short-term goals, and not just a start and finish.
2. Prioritize your goals. Distinguish between a need, want, and a would-be-nice item. Defining what tasks are important and what can wait will help you prioritize your goals. If you have a deliverable that’s due before COB, and a report that’s due at the end of the week, don’t work on the report until your deliverable is complete.
3. Be real with your time. Unless your name is Usain Bolt, you will not be able to run the 100m dash in under 9.5 seconds. Likewise, if you have a task that’ll take an hour to complete, don’t bank on completing it in 30 minutes (even if you did manage to do it that one time). After you’ve finished a task, treat any spare as bonus time to tackle other tasks. That way you’re always running downhill and not uphill.
4. Freebies. Always keep a list of smaller, easy-to-finish tasks in hand. Small, incremental victories are key. Just like with debt, the snowball effect is real in the workplace. When you complete a bunch of small tasks, you will always feel more accomplished at the end of the day. Remember, building a brick wall starts with laying down one brick at a time. The more tasks you complete, the closer you’ll get to finishing your “wall” of responsibilities.
5. “No” – learn it and use it. It’s ok to say “no.” Say it with me: “No.” See? It’s not hard! Learn to turn people away when you’ve run out of capacity to take on extra work. It’s always better to say “no” than to bite off more than you can chew. Remember tips 2 and 3: know your goals and your bandwidth. Unless something is mission critical, that request should not change your day.