If only I had a few more hours in the day.
How many times have you said that to yourself? Don’t be shy. Raise your hand.
In this fast-paced life that we live, we are bombarded daily by responsibilities, deadlines, obligations and conflicting priorities and there are days when we feel we just can’t get our heads over water. Truth is, all the paper planners or digital reminders in the world won’t keep you on track if you don’t develop the skills necessary to manage your day. If you aren’t sure which skills you need to develop, answer the following questions with either Always, Often, Rarely or Never:
- Do you feel you don’t have time to add any new projects to your schedule?
- Do you have trouble locating the things you need in a timely manner?
- Do you hesitate to throw something away just in case you may need it later?
- Do you have problems saying “no” when asked to take on a new project or volunteer?
- Do interruptions keep you derailed for ten minutes or more after the interruption is over?
- Do you find yourself playing catch up after neglecting a task or project?
- Do you struggle with the urge to immediately respond to emails and instant messages or getting people off the phone?
If you answered Always or Often to questions:
1 and 7 – You struggle with scheduling. Over-scheduling is just as bad as procrastination. When you are super-scheduled you can become paralyzed when you are faced with a change in plan or routine or even new projects.
2 and 3 – You have organizational challenges. Whether you are drowning in piles of paper or electronic files for everything, it’s time to figure out what to toss and what to keep.
4, 5 and 7 – You have too many interruptions. I’m guessing that you have trouble saying “no” (Which by the way is a full sentence) to family, co-workers, your phone, emails and all types of instant messages and you often find yourself falling behind on your tasks. Here’s a hint, saying “no” will not keep you from advancing at work or make you a bad mom, wife, daughter, friend or sister.
Here are some strategies to deal with the everyday things that rob you of your time:
- Meetings – Have an agenda and stick to it. Start and finish on time. Have a stand up meeting.
- Phone calls – Schedule them. Know the objective of the call before you dial the number. Let the caller know how much time you have.
- “No” vs “Yes” – Request time to make a decision. Avoid making excuses.
- Interruptions – Tell people when you are available and when you are not. Look at a clock. Say you have to get back to work.
- Paperwork and Email – Throw away what you do not need. Handle emails and paper mail once.
Now if you will excuse me, I have to check my schedule to see what’s next.