Time Management: A Key to Getting Ahead

Something we’re rarely explicitly taught when we start our professional lives, but is actually essential to our success in the world of work is good, efficient time management. Learning how to organize yourself and your tasks is so important for your ability to do your job, as well as for your own mental health. There’s nothing more stressful than having too much to do with no time to do it. It doesn’t matter how smart you are if you can’t organize information well enough to take it in. And it doesn’t matter how skilled you are if procrastination keeps you from getting your work done.

In our hectic schedules, your ability to handle the information coming your way, as well as your time, means you’ll learn to manage your tasks, be much more productive and, most likely, be a step up on the competition for getting ahead in your field. But good management of our personality and our habits is often much easier said than done. None of us set out to procrastinate, or to be overwhelmed with the avalanche of information we have to process each day. We all begin our day with the best of intentions for a productive and energetic schedule. But our world, now more than ever, is full of distractions, and a lot of what we face professionally is out of our control. Here are a few tips to help us manage what we can.

Get Organized

This is a somewhat simple sounding key to making your office time more productive. Organize your desk and keep it tidy. Create an In-tray for physical files and printouts that can be organized by their priority-level. Pin important tasks to your soft board, and, if needed, set reminders on your phone. And something almost thematic to this whole endeavor: make a habit out of doing things right. Keep your desk tidy, not just for one day. Systematically pin your files and set reminders.

Make Meetings Matter

Planning the time and venue for the next meeting during the current one will save you time and keep you focused on what needs to be done in preparation for it. Make sure your meetings are necessary – sometimes the weekly Monday morning meeting simply becomes a habit. Establish an agenda and stick to the start and end time. Watch out for group size. Anything larger than eight to ten people can reduce the effectiveness of the meeting.

Choose Your Tasks with Care

Make sure what you have set out to do is adding value to the organization and that it’s making the most of your skills. This is most relevant when taking on an extra project or other extra work. Don’t be afraid to team up with a colleague who can help you, rather than overburdening yourself and reducing your effectiveness for other tasks.

Create and Stick to a To-Do List

This is an easy one to begin but can be more difficult than you might imagine to stick to. But it’s key to keeping you focused on your tasks ahead. Prioritize your tasks and decide which you want to complete first. For some the easier tasks are what they like to take care of first thing in the morning, for others focusing on the more difficult tasks first is preferable. There’s no right answer except knowing what you personally prefer.

Make It Easy to Get Started

Starting something is the hardest part. Why not break larger tasks up into smaller sections? That way you can organize to complete them step by step and, at least psychologically, reduce their length or difficulty.

naisA Global is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization dedicated to helping talented young Asian professionals unlock their potential and become great leaders.