In today's hectic world, it can be easy to find yourself swept along in an endless tidal wave of work, meetings, and projects. The good news is that there are some simple tools that you can use to reclaim previously lost time in your day. By knowing the basics of time management, organization, and scheduling, you can work more efficiently and effectively at the task at hand, regardless of whether that task is raising a family or completing an office presentation. The key is to take a few minutes every day to implement gradual changes in how you work, and the first step is learning what those changes ought to be.
Time management can be the most difficult skill to acquire. A few lost minutes here and there may not seem like much, but when added together, they can completely reshape your day and what you can accomplish in it. The main goals of time management are to prioritize your tasks and break down your work into clear, manageable segments to allow for faster, easier completion. After all, working on one huge project can seem daunting. By breaking up the task into smaller portions and keeping track of what you have left to do, you can work more effectively on tasks that are a high priority. Save checking your email or Facebook for a five-minute break after you've finished one of your main goals for the day.
- 10 Time-Management Tips That Work
- How to Manage Your Time Effectively
- Academic Success: Time Management
If you already have excellent time-management skills but seem to find yourself constantly interrupted and disorganized, then you may want to focus on organizational skills. You'll be able to find things quickly and easily precisely when you want them by organizing your work space and your projects. Organization also includes planning ahead: If you know you have an afternoon meeting that will take most of the day, determine which things are most important to address right away so you won't be swamped when you return to work. It may help to keep a list of things that you want to do or tasks that you need to achieve. Go through your planner or diary and clean out everything without a deadline to help yourself keep track of the most important events coming up. Reminders, ideas, and resolutions should go in a separate notebook.
- Organizational Skills: Recommendations for Teachers (PDF)
- Organizational Skills: A Resource Guide for Mentors (PDF)
- Mastering Organizational Skills
Keeping track of meetings and birthdays can be one of the biggest stress-inducers. There are few things more disheartening than walking into the office and realizing there is a meeting that you completely forgot to prepare for. Happily, in today's Internet age, there are multiple tools that you can use to keep yourself on track. A calendar board may be an attractive option for those who prefer looking at a month as a whole. It's still important to keep an ongoing diary or a planner, but a calendar board will allow for quick, easy scheduling as events arise. You can then transfer all of the new events into your long-term planner at the end of the day and alert your staff of changes through Internet scheduling programs, most of which are free to use.
- How to Use Google Calendar to Keep Groups Organized
- Three Killer Tools for Scheduling Shifts
- Introduction to the Management Principles of Scheduling (PDF)
Miscellaneous Planning Tips
- One of These Days I'll Stop Procrastinating (PDF) - One of the biggest barriers to a stress-free life is self-imposed. Procrastinating can turn the smallest task into a last-minute crisis, but it can be a hard habit to break. This handout from the University of Pennsylvania breaks down and explains the steps of project management that can help snuff out procrastination before it ever begins.
- Getting Past Perfectionism - The pressure to produce perfect work, especially within a competitive business setting, can often lead to a sense of feeling overwhelmed. Learning to get past your own high standards can result in an increase in creativity and a more positive experience of work in general. Princeton University has an excellent article that explains why perfectionism might not be worth the effort and what you can do to streamline your work day.
- 12 Ways to Develop Your Child's Organizational Skills - If you find yourself in need of developing some organizational finesse, why not make it into a family activity? In addition to having an at-home support group (and an excuse to indulge in arts and crafts), you'll provide your children with a valuable life skill.
- Transferable Skills: What Do You Do Well? (PDF) - Figuring out where you're faltering can be as simple as doing a one-page self-assessment. Take a few minutes to go through this list from Columbia University and determine where your strengths lie and how they can help you with your weaknesses.
- 12 Ways to Eliminate Stress at Work - Did you know that the average worker is distracted for up to two hours each day? These distractions aren't always avoidable - perhaps a coworker needs a report, or the boss calls an impromptu meeting - and they can throw off a good work groove. To take back control of your work day, check out these 12 tips from Forbes magazine.
- Get Organized: Tips and Tools for Managing a Project - If you find yourself placed in charge of a project at work, it can be difficult to coordinate tasks between team members. Check out this article from PC Magazine to discover how to handle the extra stress with ease.
- What's Your Stress Index? - Stress is hard to measure, so it can be difficult to tell exactly how much stress you're dealing with. Take this quick, easy quiz to determine your individual stress index.
- Five Scientifically Proven Ways to Reduce Stress at Work - It may surprise you to learn that some of the most effective ways of reducing stress are also the simplest. This article from TIME magazine explains how you can reduce your stress immediately.
- Five Tips to Help Manage Stress - Chronic stress can lead to serious health problems in the future, so if you're feeling the pressure, you may want to read this article from the American Psychological Association. Everyone handles stress differently, but you may find that one of these stress-management strategies is just the key you were looking for.