We’ve all found ourselves feeling strapped for time at one point or another and it can often happen when we’re at work. Got an essay deadline to meet next week that you haven’t started yet? Taken on one too many clients and now can’t find the time to get all your work done? Managing your time can be difficult, so how can you improve so that you can be better for next time? This article will discuss a few ways you can hone your time management skills and meet your deadlines.
Take a moment to accept that you are one person and cannot do everything. One of the biggest issues for people who find it hard to meet deadlines can be taking on too much work. Every once in a while, remind yourself that you can only do so much. You might need to ask someone for help in your team or ask your university lecturer for an extension on your deadlines and that’s okay. There is nothing wrong with asking for help when you realise that you have taken on too much work and don’t have time to complete it properly.
Accept that this is a constantly growing skill. Time management is never something you can completely ‘master’. There will always be a new way that you can complete a task faster, or something that could slow you down. Everyone runs into trouble occasionally and no one can be perfect all of the time. So if you make a mistake, own it, learn from it and use it to be better for next time. Learn to accept that you are constantly improving and try not to beat yourself up every time something goes wrong and you’ll find that having a more relaxed attitude might actually help you manage your time better.
Try to complete tasks ahead of time. If you find that you have a lull in your work and nothing is happening, take advantage of that time and use it to complete a task with a deadline you know is far away. There is a sort of satisfaction you can gain from knowing you have work finished weeks in advance and you might actually find you have more time to relax as a result. Or, you might want to use the extra time you’ve gained from finishing your projects early to take on more projects or clients, just be careful not to let that lead you into a loop of being once again stuck for time.
Avoid stress and take breaks. While you might feel that you need to get as much work done in as short a time as possible, stress is likely to hamper your productivity and actually slow you down. Take an occasional break to relax. This will help you be more refreshed and revitalised when you return, which is likely to greatly boost your productivity and actually get the work done faster. Don’t let work invade your home life, either. If you’re spending time with friends or family, try to relax and not fixate on the work you have left to do.
Decline further work. If you’re already under stress from too many tasks, the last thing you need is to take on more work. If a co-worker approaches you asking you to complete a task for them, politely decline and explain that you have a lot of work at the moment and don’t have any time to take on any more.
Prioritise. It’s important to recognise which of your tasks are high priorities and which are low priorities. If you spend too much time on low priority tasks, you’ll feel increased stress when the deadline for the high priority task comes. Focus each day exclusively on the highest priority tasks and once they are completed, work on the low priority ones with the comfort and knowledge that they aren’t as urgent and you can take a more relaxed approach.
Time management skills are important to any work or study life, so it’s important to make sure you’re on top of your work as much as possible. However, it’s okay to take a break every now and then and realise that you need to recharge. As long as you’re responsible and can focus when it’s important, you’ll find that managing your time can be a lot easier than it seems. As always, good luck!