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The Side Dish

Don’t Be Busy, Be Productive. Tips To Improve Time Management.

Jenna Berning, Associate Media Director / 11.13.2018

“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.”

Leonard Bernstain

Leonard Bernstein could not be more accurate in his quote. There never seems to be quite enough time in the day to accomplish what we want or need to do. This is why it is so important to focus on time management.

At BIG YAM, we are always ready to move quickly when creating a plan and seemingly doing the impossible when it comes to meeting tight deadlines.

Of course, our ability to do so is largely due to our incredible team and a solid plan. But one thing that is imperative in making sure we each meet our deadlines is good time management.

There never seems to be quite enough time in the day to accomplish what we want or need to do.

Over the years, beginning in grade school, I have developed time management skills that have carried me through high school, college and my career. Still, I find myself distracted throughout the day. Whether it’s a text from my children’s nanny, the random “need” to check Instagram or email or a quick chat with a coworker on my way to get a snack, it’s not something I prepared for and it gets me off task.

Organization and time management may not be something that everyone is great at, but it can be learned. Taking small steps can make a big difference in ensuring you have productive days and are able to enjoy your time at work and at home.

It can seem like a never-ending cycle of stress and last-minute deadlines loom over us every minute of every day. And let’s be honest, sometimes no matter how organized we are, things are going to come up and throw our entire day out of whack. But those days can be the exception and not the rule. If we can manage our time better on a regular basis, it will allow time for those unpredicted tasks when they do arise.

Here are six tips to improve time management:

Conduct a time audit.

Over the course of your day or week, log your time spent on each task and each break you take. This will help you understand where you are running short on time, and where you are wasting time. Chances are, the amount of time you think you are spending on certain tasks is nowhere near accurate.

Create a daily plan.

  • Put a time limit on tasks and stick to that time limit. These limits will help you stay focused and efficient.
  • Schedule breaks between tasks – leave a buffer between all tasks and meetings. We are only capable of focusing for roughly 90 minutes at a time so be sure to schedule breaks to avoid burnout and maintain productivity.
  • Complete your most important and demanding tasks first thing in the morning. Most people tend to be more focused in the early part of the work day. Our minds are fresh and we haven’t been bombarded with new tasks for the day.
  • Batch similar tasks together.
  • Schedule email response times. Do not abandon tasks to respond to emails. Have set times that are dedicated to email response.

Don’t multitask.

As a mom, this one seems impossible as I am guilty of multitasking nearly all the time. Even though I do it, and I think we are all guilty of it, multitasking ultimately wastes time and can sacrifice quality standards.

You know what I’m talking about. You’re in the middle of a task and randomly stop to check your phone or you’re on a conference call and checking emails at the same time. You can’t be fully engaged with any one task if you are wandering over to something else every few minutes. It ends up taking you twice as long to do half as much work.

Block out distractions.

This can be as simple as closing all computer windows but the one necessary for your task. Try minimizing your email, cleaning off your desk, turning off social media app alerts, putting on headphones to drown out office noise or even picking up your laptop and going to work somewhere no one can find you.

Don’t answer your phone just because it’s ringing. Catch up on phone calls during downtime to avoid interruptions when working on high-focus tasks.

Organize your email.

Nothing makes me panic more than having hundreds of emails in my inbox!

I am a habitual email filer. I use my inbox as a to-do list and as soon as an email is answered or the task is completed, the email gets filed. For me, this works. For others, it may be helpful to create labels for emails – urgent, with client, needs action, etc. That way at a glance, you know which emails are most important.

Learn to say no.

Don’t just automatically say yes to every request.

Instead of automatically accepting a deadline or meeting invite, check your schedule and determine if it’s downtime doable. If you don’t have time, maybe someone else does and you can delegate or outsource a less important task so you can focus on the bigger ones.