Managing tasks and their deadlines is hard. Managing people is harder. But managing myself and my time is the hardest, but it is the key to managing both people and deadlines. This was my biggest learning during my first week in my new role as a manager at Human Resources.
The reality is we all have 24 hours in a day, out of which we spend about eight to nine hours at our office desks. On a tough day, this could go up to 10 to 12 hours. But not only is that unhealthy for staff in every way, but it may also be indicative of a need to manage one’s time more effectively.
In the past week, I’ve often found myself looking for ways to check things off my task list faster and more efficiently. Here’s what I learnt, and I hope some of it is a useful reminder for you as well.
1. Invest 20 minutes in planning your day
Instead of starting each day in a whirl, I found it helpful to slow down my pace after running into the office, and taking some time to structure my day. This helped me gain a one-up before the clock got the better of me, and list out my priorities for each day.
I also realised it was futile to put more than three to four big items on my daily to-do list. While making the list, it may help to write the items out in the order of what’s most important to you and your team.
2. Start your day with the most time-intensive activity
Starting your morning with the hardest or most time-intensive activity is a good idea, especially if that’s when you’re at your best (which I am). Coming in nice and early with a fresh mind was the perfect setup to solve my hardest problems of the day, or work on the task that needed the most time and effort from me.
An early start meant I was able to tick off such tasks early in the day, without feeling like I was running out of time to achieve everything else that I had planned.
3. Routines are meant to be broken
A routine is great when it works, but it’s even more fun when it needs to be reworked to suit your goals better. In the past week, I’ve had to play around with the way I have managed my work in the AM and PM and realised that a new routine may be in order.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t quite grasped what my new routine is yet. It can be overwhelming to step out of your comfort zone away from the tried-and-tested work habits that have worked so well for you in the past.
But a new year, a new role and a new team are all great reasons to break the monotony and figure out how you can keep doing more of what makes you good at your job, and slowly season it with habits that will make you great at it.
In addition to all of this, with a crazy amount of technology available at our fingertips, and most of it for free, there is nothing stopping us from making the most of it. Tools available to us on a daily basis, such as the Google Calendar or Skype, can be helpful in more ways than to just keep a tab of our meetings.
These are just some of my thoughts over the past week, but I’d love to hear some tips from you.