As Creative Science Labs’ lead project manager, I am constantly looking for ways to be more productive, more efficient, and better at managing my time. Countless times I have said, “...if only there were a few more hours in the day,” but I have found that with proper preparation and an adaptable mindset, you can create those hours you’re missing.
Here are some tips to get you on track:
1. Keep Two To-Do ListsMost people keep some sort of list of things to do throughout their day or week, but if your to-do list is too long, it can be overwhelming or feel impossible to complete. My advice is to keep two to-do lists: One that serves as a comprehensive list of everything you are responsible for, and one with just the tasks you plan to complete that particular day. Breaking the list down makes it more manageable, and you’ll be more optimistic if you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
2. Schedule Time BlocksSo you’ve split your to-do list into two, but even your smaller, daily list still seems daunting. Rather than looking at tasks on your to-do list as things that need to be done all at once, set aside time blocks to work on each task on an hourly basis. Giving yourself time constraints to finish each task will prevent you from spending too much time working on something.
3. Utilize Calendar ToolsNo matter if you’re using Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, or something else entirely, you’re probably not using all of the time-saving tools at hand. Be sure to take advantage of your calendar app by adding everything to your calendar: standing daily or weekly meetings, time blocks for working on things, personal appointments, even lunch. This will make it easier to stay organized and on track to complete your to-do list for the day. And don’t forget to add alerts to remind you when you need to shift gears.
4. Reevaluate PrioritiesA good way to ensure you’re always working on the most important task at any given time is to reevaluate your to-do list frequently and make changes when necessary. I suggest at least twice per day. Set your priorities for the day in the morning after you’ve scanned your inbox for fires, and then reassess again after lunch. This will ensure you’re working on the right things at the right time, and allow for additions of any surprise tasks that come up.
5. Be FlexibleAll of the planning you do to organize your day can fall apart in an instant if you’re not flexible. Wrenches being thrown into your day are inevitable, so it’s smart to expect the unexpected. Keep an hour or two of every day unscheduled so when your boss throws a new, urgent project your way, you’ll be able to fit it in. Should you not have something come up, you can always use that extra time to get a head start on the next day’s work.
In Closing...Being an effective time manager can not only increase your day-to-day productivity, but it also can increase your long-term success. Making small changes to become more organized and time-conscious can go a long way in making your days easier. Have any tips for being efficient in the new year I didn’t cover that work well for you? Share them!