Managing your personal work priorities is at the core of being effective in the workplace. Below we provide a few easy to implement ideas to assist you in your endeavour to master the art of time management.
Tips to manage work priorities
- Step back and look at the bigger picture.
- Establish your priorities.
- Allocate your time to the tasks that matter.
- Plan your weeks and daily task lists.
- Manage your emails.
- Minimise distractions and interruptions.
- Don’t procrastinate.
- Keep your work space clean and organised.
1. Step back and look at the bigger picture.
Good managers are required to step out of detail and look at the bigger picture. Sometimes it helps to go back to the basics and read your position description have a look at the organisation chart to remind yourself exactly what you were hired to do, and as a result, what your priorities should be.
2. Establish your priorities.
Categorise your tasks by Importance and Urgency. This will enable you to decide which matters regard your direct attention, which matters you should delegate, which tasks you could postpone and which tasks you can dump. Importance is the first factor of establishing priorities. Urgency is second.
3. Allocate your time to the tasks that matter.
The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rules, suggests that 20% of your efforts produce 80% of your results. Before you begin a task ask yourself the question, “What will the outcome be?”. Then you can try and avoid the time wasters. Record a time log for 3 days and monitor exactly what you’re spending your time on. What time was spent on important or urgent tasks? How can you rearrange your time and tasks to better fit the 80/20 rule?
4. Plan your weeks and daily task lists.
Effective time management starts with good planning, so plan your weeks and days, not at the beginning of the day, allocate time on Friday afternoon to plan the week ahead. Daily tasks should be planned the evening prior to avoid distractions which often occur first thing in the morning. Create to do lists, whether paper based or electronic. There are also some great applications for smart phones and tablets the manage your tasks, some are outlined here in our article 6 More Apps to Help You Study and Be More Productive.
5. Manage your emails.
Effective management of emails can have a big impact on freeing up your time. Turn off pop-up notification emails; allocate specific times during the day to check and respond to emails; set-up automatic rules to file unimportant emails.
6. Minimise distractions and interruptions.
Avoid unnecessary meetings and set boundaries for staff so you’re not being continually interrupted. Learn how to say no (where appropriate).
7. Don’t procrastinate.
For your most important tasks, allocate these to be done first thing in the morning, and complete them prior to checking email to avoid distractions. Inform your staff that you have a busy morning and would prefer no interruptions unless necessary.
8. Keep your work space clean and organised.
If your files and desk are well organised, it’s going to be much quicker to find what you need and will save you time in the long run. Allocate 1/2 an hour each week to do a quick tidy-up and some filing to maintain your clean workspace.
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