This month, we’re celebrating admin. professionals’ accomplishments and strategies. This week, we’re focusing on time management and strategies shared by Real Careers alumni.
Nicole Blanchette, Canada: Prioritise your day every morning or the night before you walk into the office, and work on one task at a time from start to finish. Multi-tasking does not work for me. I recognise that, in a busy office, we will encounter many interruptions and working on one task at a time may be difficult. I always have an open journal/notebook on my desk and will jot down the interruptions so that I can follow up after I have completed the task at hand. Of course I also need to be flexible and willing to switch direction if needed. Once the diversion has been addressed, jump back on the task you were working on.
Juliana Carneiro, Netherlands: Music on my earphones – when I have the music on, the works gets done much faster.
Bianca Constance, USA: My most effective time management strategy is having my manager out of the office. I can get things done like you would not believe. All kidding aside, my best time management strategy is posting everything to my Outlook calendar with plenty of lead time. I use it for reminders for me and for reminders for everyone in my department.
Leeanne Graham, England: To-do lists. It sounds so simple, but I am most effective at getting things done when I make sure I write it all down. When we are super busy, it is very easy to scribble something on a Post-it note or the back of a scrap of paper, and then it gets lost. Have a designated notepad specifically for your to-do list and write every little task down. I also like to use the Urgent/Important Matrix. I use that to prioritise tasks.
MistiLynn Lokken, USA: I try to follow the Eisenhower Matrix for time management, focusing on investing time in the “important” categories which will ultimately reduce the “urgent” (fire drill) moments. I’ve seen the effects of those who try to keep up with the urgent, such as responding to emails within seconds, but who don’t invest in the important items, such as personal development. That can easily lead to getting burned out in the busywork without completing high value projects.
Anel Martin, South Africa: Have a to-do list. Plan tasks and reach out to the correct resources to get the job done. And most importantly, do it right the first time!! Listen to your body and match activities to your energy level.
Emeka Otoba, Nigeria: I make sure my Outlook is synced with my phone, and so reminders pop up on my phone even if I am on the move, which happens quite often.
Dalya PerryBernstein, England: Prioritise as much as possible. Use hand written lists or your task bar in Outlook. Write your lists either the night before or each morning. When tasks are done, tick them off for satisfaction purposes! If you have a big project, diarise blocked time for yourself and if you can, switch your phone off for an hour or so to allow you to concentrate on it and use that time to the best of your ability. Break down large tasks into milestones to satisfy the basic human desire to make progress.
Jacqui Quigley, Republic of Ireland: I am most productive first thing in the morning – find your time. I do try to get my emails actioned during this time and then keep on top of them throughout the day, ensuring I have no more than 10 unactioned emails in my inbox at any given time. It is less overwhelming.
I keep lists, and lists for lists, but it works for me. Nothing has ever slipped off the radar once my list is involved. Occasionally, I would colour code the lists depending on priority or urgency – red for important, blue for today, and black for items to be dealt with over the coming days (within a week). If it’s something long term, for example a month from now, a highlighter gets involved. The highlighter works well as the list gets longer or complete; I can review back, and the colour catches my attention.
Katherine Vaillancourt, Canada: Lists – Make sure you list all the things you need to do and categorise them as A (most important), B (somewhat important) or C (for later). By looking at a list, you will know what you need to get done, when and its importance.
Catherine Williamson, England: Check emails only at certain times of the day (I have a reminder ping up on my computer) and then use the two-minute rule: if it can be dealt with in two minutes, do it. If not, use those two minutes to plan what you’re going to do with it and then put it into a task to be worked on outside the “checking emails” time slot.
I also categorise everything so that I’m not flitting from writing a letter to making a phone call to photocopying to filling to writing another letter – everything gets done in a block when you’re in that particular “zone”. Also, do the slightly intimidating things first!