You’ve probably noticed that some professionals have an uphill career, while others, as they say, wiggle at the tail end of office life. Someone has time to solve both current and strategic tasks, and someone always blows a deadline and can only be proud of their winnings when they play online roulette at National casino. According to experts, it’s not just a matter of responsiveness and general professionalism. A successful career is first and foremost a result of effective time management.
On how to structure time correctly – our new article.
Manage Your Time
Refreshed and in the mood for productive work, you come into the office, turn on your computer, check your mail, and at the same time remember what you have to do today. But while you are answering your email, your boss distracts you with a minor, but time-consuming errand and a colleague emotionally talks about yesterday’s meeting with the director. Meanwhile, you receive two more emails marked “urgent. When you finally remember that you were supposed to prepare an important presentation this morning, the day has already passed in the middle. Most likely, you will have to stay in the office again…
Does this picture sound familiar? But all of this could have been avoided by spending five minutes the day before to plan the day. Of course, it would not save you from urgent emails, but the day would be noticeably more organized.
What Should Be Included in the Plan?
How should a career-minded professional plan his or her time? A strategic plan for a year or six months should turn every day into a tactical plan for the day. Daily planning is the secret of the personal effectiveness of many successful people.
When making a plan for the day, write down everything you need to do, from attending a meeting to congratulating colleagues or partners via email. And remember, for a successful career, you should always do a little more or better than is expected of you. For example, if you have been instructed by your manager to organize the department’s archives, do it in such a way that it is not only convenient but also pleasant to use the results of your work. In addition, make it a habit to include in your daily plan not only the tasks expected by your boss but also those that will work for your personal image, bringing you extra “points” in the daily office routine.
You can make a to-do list in an ordinary paper diary or in a special program on your computer, it does not particularly matter. The main thing is to get your thoughts in order and not to forget a single thing that requires your attention.
So, the list of things to do for the day is made. Now you need to prioritize – determine what of the written list is of primary importance (such tasks denote in the plan by the letter A), what is important but not urgent (B), and what is desirable but not necessary (C).
When prioritizing, don’t forget that what works for your career (your initiatives, projects you are personally responsible for, etc.) should be of paramount importance, i.e. marked with the letter A.
Once you have decided on the main thing, think about when it would be most convenient for you to perform this or that task. Work that requires concentration and immersion, it is best to plan for a time when you are not too often distracted by phone calls and overly communicative colleagues. Many successful people long ago made it a rule to do something complicated or important in the early morning, in peace and quiet, while the working day is not yet in full swing.
Conversely, tasks that require contact with colleagues, clients, or partners will be easier to accomplish in the middle of the day, when everyone is available for communication and in a businesslike mood.
Time Management in the Service of Career
A fairly effective rule of personal time management, which helps not to keep in mind many small tasks at once, sounds like this: if a matter takes less than three minutes, it should be done immediately, without delay. There was a need to call the client to clarify the time of the meeting? Do not think about what time of day it is better to do it – pick up the phone and call. Following this principle will free your diary from unnecessary notes, and your head – from unnecessary thoughts and plans.
Another very useful commandment is not to do several things at once. And even if the laurels of Julius Caesar do not give you peace of mind, do not try to discuss contract terms on the phone and at the same time make changes to the table on the computer monitor. That way you run the risk of misreading the spreadsheet and missing something important on the phone. In other words, do important things in sequence, not in parallel.
Flexibility or Firmness?
Your plan is ready, your priorities are set, and now your job is to stay on track. Almost certainly from the morning, you will have a lot of other things to do, important and not so important. Your boss may give you the responsibility of negotiating with a client or your colleagues may involve you in the preparation of an important document.
Which of these is more important for your life and career success is up to you to decide. On the one hand, you need to be able not only to make a plan for the day but also to adjust it as necessary. On the other hand, lest you drown in secondary matters, you will sooner or later have to learn to tell people “no.”
Daily planning teaches us the value of time. A person who has a plan for the day, week, month, or even year, hardly allows himself to lose an hour every day, for example, getting to work in the subway. Most likely, he will spend this time reading professional magazines or listening to podcasts. After all, an hour a day is twenty (or more) hours a month and at least 240 hours a year! A lot of time can and should be spent beneficially for yourself and your professional development.
Above all, for a successful career, you have to learn to forget the temptations of the Internet, such as social networks, forums, chat rooms, and online games. The only exceptions are specialists whose daily activity is tightly connected with the promotion of their own company in the virtual space. For the rest, we strongly recommend using social online resources at home, in your spare time.
Good luck planning your working hours!