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15 Ways to Tame Time, Schedules, and Deadlines

January 6, 2014

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There’s so much on each of our plates, and only so much time in the course of a day to get it done. Here are 15 proven time management techniques to help you make the best use of your time, day in and day out. 

  1. Organize your to-do list. Whether your list is in electronic form or on paper, set out all projects, in descending order of importance, along with all deadlines for task completion. Build in a buffer, especially for large, complex tasks; you know you’ll need one.
  2. Review your list daily. Take the first or last 20 minutes of each day to revisit and revise your to-do list. That way, when you start to work, you’ll have a plan for how to best proceed. 
  3. Prioritize new projects. See where new projects fit into ongoing ones. Decide if you must deal with a new project first, or if it’s possible to work on it in concert with other projects.  
  4. Tackle the most difficult task first. Spend the first hour of your day on the most important thing that you need to accomplish. Even if you finish only part of it, you’ll be more likely to return to it later, and the deadline will seem less daunting—because you’ve had a head start.
  5. Know when you work best. Try to schedule crucial tasks when you are at your most productive. If you’re a morning person, tackle important tasks then. If you concentrate best after lunch, that’s when to schedule demanding items.
  6. Combine tasks. For instance, should you need to create similar databases for multiple projects, it will probably be easier to work on them at the same time. 
  7. Plan for interruptions. No matter how well you plan your time, there will be unexpected fires to put out. Build in time for them.
  8. Schedule times to check phone calls and email. Deal with phone and email messages at set times of the day. If that’s not possible, limit answers to less than ten minutes whenever possible. 
  9. Forget Facebook and social media. Unless you are tasked with using social media in your work, check these time-wasters on your lunch break or at home.  
  10. Complete tasks that take under five minutes right away. This allows you to get small, but urgent, tasks done quickly and gives you an immediate sense of satisfaction.
  11. Switch projects. If you get stuck on one project, switch to another for a while. When you go back to the first project, you’ll see it with fresh eyes.  
  12. Take breaks. Never stopping to refresh and revitalize is counterproductive. Stand up, walk around, stretch, take deep breaths, or get a cup of coffee to de-stress.
  13. Say no. If you simply won’t be able to complete a new task, say so. Explain to your boss why this is the case and see if the task can be assigned to someone else. 
  14. Set boundaries. If you’re busy, don’t stop to chat with co-workers. Instead, schedule lunch or a coffee break with them.
  15. Organize your workspace. When you don’t have to spend time searching for things you’ll be less stressed and more productive.

To learn more about Taming Time, Schedules, and Deadlines, check out these On-Demand Webinars with Kimberly Medlock:   


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