We all have a lot of stress in our lives, both at work and at home, and time management is one of those stressors. Many of us are overwhelmed and having difficulty multitasking and prioritizing our work to meet deadlines.
There are many different time management systems to help you cope with time constraints and work overload. Here are some of the more popular systems:
The Pomodoro Technique – This systematic approach was invented by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. You work in increments of 25 minutes and take five minute breaks in between, using a timer to measure your progress. After four pomodoros, you take a 15 to 20 minute break. You can use an actual Pomodoro timer, or even better, use a free timer online. Taking these small breaks clears your mind and helps you to focus.
Getting Things Done (GTD) – This is David Allen’s Work-Life Management System. It is considered by many people to be one of the best. David Allen has written a number of books on this topic, and his organization provides time management seminars and solutions for individuals and organizations.
Take the GTD test to see how you can improve your time management skills.
Franklin Covey’s Focus – This is another technique that many people, especially busy executives, swear by.
The system uses a four quadrant management matrix to help you manage your work load based on urgency and importance.
Some people take bits and pieces from all these systems, or others, to find the right fit for their lifestyle and work habits. Managing time when there doesn’t seem to be enough makes you feel like Sisyphus trying to push that boulder up the hill. Don’t despair, you can do something about it.
Researchers and educators, such as Dawna I Ballard, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Texas of Austin are studying how our working lives are shaped by our experience of time and the relationship between working time and related outcomes.
It is an issue that concerns everyone, from the single working mother who has to balance child care with a full time job, to the entrepreneur starting a business from home and working day and night to get their product or service off the ground.
Stress from poor time management can lead to health issues or substance abuse. That just makes managing your time even more difficult. Or, to put it bluntly, there will be no time to manage if you are six feet under. That is how serious that a lack of organization and focus can be to your career and your health.
People are working longer, taking work home, retiring later in life, and these are all circumstances that require a good work/life balance to prevent a heart attack or a breakdown, or just run yourself ragged so that you catch colds or don’t get proper sleep.
If this sounds like you, take a breather, OK, take more than a breather. Take a few hours and consider how you can improve your processes and free up more time.
You can try some of the time management systems we talked about. You can also organize your office to be more efficient by decluttering your stacks of paper and going paperless.
Use innovative software that helps you do your job faster and more efficiently. By using a PDF to Excel converter, you can save hours of time that you would spend inputting data into your spreadsheet. Those are the kinds of tasks that we don’t look forward to and frequently put off until crunch time. Yesterday we talked about making charts and graphs. Doing this, or making lists is another great way to manage your time.
Consider using other programs or software that might help you do your job. For example, some people like to use voice recognition software and dictate their writing instead of spending hours at the keyboard. Some of us love the feel of keys clacking under our fingers, but if that just makes you edgy, change it.
That is what technology was invented for, to make our lives easier. Why do you think we have remote controls for our TV? Just kidding, but when was the last time you got up to change the channel?
We don’t realize how much we can’t live without something until we try it. We panic if we forget to charge our smartphones and can’t access our emails. Of course, that is both good and bad; more work around the clock but more access when you need it.
There are all kinds of things you can do to improve your state of mind and your ability to manage your workload. Utilize modern technology as a time management tool and take time to relax.