Have you ever been on an extended vacation and in the middle of it asked yourself, “What day is it?” Somewhere between fun-filled activities and sleeping late, you lost yourself in the flow of vacation life and drifted further away from a routine and a clear awareness of date and time. I’ve had a similar feeling since March – except it hasn’t been relaxing activities that put me in a time vacuum but rather a global pandemic and being thrown into work-from-home life. For many of us, the start of a complete remote work environment was thrilling. No commute? No real clothes? No problem. That is, until we realized that this new normal meant an increased blurring of the line between personal and professional life and the arduous task of mastering time management to be both productive and sane.
As a project manager, time management is a very necessary skill, one that takes continual practice and improvement. For most of us who have a never-ending to-do list, it becomes easy to fall into the “get tasks done no matter the time it takes” mode. As daylight saving time approaches, it’s important to revisit routines to ensure that we’re increasing productivity and quality of work with an extra hour. Here are a few tips that I’ve compiled to help manage time effectively.
End the day by preparing for the next
The last thing most people think of at the end of the day is the start of the next. Let’s be honest. For many of us, the first part of every morning is spent asking ourselves, “What’s on my docket today?” while Outlook calendars and full inboxes jog our brain for the day’s tasks. Then it becomes easy to let unread emails be your to-do list and neglect open-items or unresolved tasks. Instead, at the end of the day, quickly jot down an EOD status with a short list of action items for tomorrow. This way, nothing will fall through the cracks and you will feel prepared for the day ahead.
Equip for efficiency in meetings
Scheduling a meeting is often a double-edged sword. On one hand, there are issues that need to be discussed, but on the other, there’s the blunt truth: We all probably don’t need yet another meeting. When you are scheduling meetings, work to give all attendees as much information as they need beforehand to make the meeting both efficient and successful. Include a brief agenda or bullet points to cover in the invite itself and be sure to add items you want attendees to come prepared with. This action will help everyone feel properly equipped and help eliminate the first few wasted minutes of introduction and “this meeting’s purpose is ____.” You’ll find that implementing this strategy usually makes for a more productive (and often shorter!) meeting, saving everyone precious time in the end.
Give yourself a break
As a go-getter and list-checker, I’m usually not satisfied until all of my day’s items and tasks are complete. This can lead to an eight-hour stint of working nonstop. Not only does this quickly lead to burnout, but it often slows down productivity as well. Instead of working until you’re tired and overwhelmed, schedule intentional breaks during the day to allow yourself time to recharge. You will find that your productivity kicks up when you’ve scheduled a lunch or 15-minute break instead of staring at an endless, daunting list of tasks. A quick reset will motivate you to pick back up and be productive before your next break or stopping point.
Whether it’s planning ahead for the next day, prepping for efficient meetings or blocking time for proper breaks, use this year’s time change as an opportunity to master time management and make the most of the end of 2020.