How To Manage Time When You Don’t Have The Time

Time Management, How to Manage Time, Time Management Tips, How To Beat Deadlines

If you multi-task every time, regardless of your status in life or society, whether you work full or part-time, you know that there isn’t really enough time to accomplish most things because of the following factors: (1) unforeseen circumstances (2) workload just keep on piling (3) lack of help (4) procrastination (5) fatigue 

So I just went back to work after two weeks of holiday staycation, all refreshed and pumped up for the New Year…only to be greeted with two weeks worth of work and whatnot, backlog (admin-wise and patient care), insurmountable paperwork, deadlines, etc. Given all these blood-pressure raising challenges, how do I start and finish my first day at work unrattled?

Today I’m sharing some tips I have learned from my 20+ years of cumulative experience earned from various industries: pharmaceutical sales and marketing management, office management, health care, to name a few. I’m not saying this to pat my own shoulder but so you know that I’m speaking from a solid background and not just a duck quacking claptrap. So without further ado, let’s start the ball rolling and see how we can help each other.

Time Management, How to Manage Time, Time Management Tips, How To Beat Deadlines

1) Start with the easiest task. I’m old school because I still jot down my “things-to-do” and enthusiastically cross-out if certain tasks have been done (note: I have planner at home and notepad at work). Quickly browse thru your pile and separate the easy from difficult, difficult from extra difficult. “Easy” can be a simple follow-up call to a customer, order supplies, draft a letter, retrieve messages. Assign anything that is easy but time-consuming as second priority. Remember, time is the essence. Now look at your “things-to-do” list, how does accomplishing 15 tasks in less than an hour makes you feel? Happy and still energized right? I know I would!

2) Don’t start your day with the most difficult & time-consuming task. Sure you finished one single task in all of 8 hours but what happened to the easy 15? Your energy is low, most likely you’re stressed out, and since you still need to do more, you start to panic. Not a good idea sistah!

Time Management, How to Manage Time, Time Management Tips, How To Beat Deadlines

3) Stay ahead of the game, don’t procrastinate. I know some people who enjoy the adrenalin rush of beating deadlines at the very last minute, not me! When you rush, you are prone to oversight and errors. Check and mark your calendar; if you know that certain tasks/reports need to be accomplished in three weeks time, start doing bits and pieces and finalize at least one week before your deadline. This gives you enough elbow room to check and revise as deemed necessary. While my colleagues panic and stay overtime finishing their marketing presentation slides, I was either at the spa for a shiatsu massage or at the salon for a new hair color… ‘coz you know I need some beauty rest before the big day, haha!

4) Learn the art of delegation. This requires a separate thorough post but to put it simply, delegate but don’t over-delegate to the point that you lose track of what’s going on. Accountability is the word so regardless whether you have an army or party of two working under you, feel confident to delegate easy tasks so you can tackle the more difficult ones. Remember to work as a team for “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.

Time Management, How to Manage Time, Time Management Tips, How To Beat Deadlines

5) Keep an idea book. Big ideas don’t appear overnight. And most often than not, they won’t be there the day or hour before your deadline. When I was still in marketing, I have a small notebook where I write all a-ha moments or opportunities learned/encountered from a meeting, talking to customers, the works! I filter and use those ideas for proper strategizing. Of course not everything comes to a fruition, not this month or quarter but who knows, maybe next year!

6) Breathe, relax, have a break. Unfortunately, our minds can only process so much no matter how focused we are. Don’t allow deadlines consume all your energy. Stop for a moment, have a cup of coffee, stretch your arms and legs and breathe slowly. I do this all the time especially if the pressure is building up. Even the smartest robot malfunctions if it’s overworked. Recharge to re-energize.

7) If all else fails, go with your gut. This is a great test-taking strategy when you don’t know the exact answer or you’re running against time. Gut-feel is simply common sense which unfortunately isn’t common at all. Gut-feel is dictated by similar or familiar experience embedded in our subconscious or just plain intuition. I say use your gut if over-analysis is pushing you to the limit or keeping you from moving forward. Caveat: don’t rely on “guesstimate” all the time because 99% of successful endeavors are based on well-thought and substantiated facts.

What about you, how do you manage time and deadlines?

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26 Comments

  1. January 14, 2015 / 5:02 pm

    I cry. Just kidding. I do tend to follow a lot of these tips and I have emergency candy from when I'm overstressed.

  2. January 14, 2015 / 5:13 pm

    I make a list of things to do by priority. The smaller things, which I know is bad, I wait until the last minute. I tell myself I work better under pressure. I am getting better though.

  3. January 14, 2015 / 5:26 pm

    I love your tips. I agree that it makes sense to start with something that is accomplish-able first to I have a sense that I'm making progress

  4. January 14, 2015 / 5:47 pm

    This is a great list! I have learned the value of a to-do list and I live to keep things as uncomplicated as possible. If I'm making something overly complicated, I step back and make changes.

  5. January 14, 2015 / 7:22 pm

    I need to bookmark this and read it daily. I just want to go back to bed some days!

  6. January 14, 2015 / 10:20 pm

    I need to be better at managing my time. I am always procrastinating and barely get any work done! Great tips though, I'll have to apply these to my life for sure.

  7. January 14, 2015 / 10:38 pm

    I need all the hlp I can get! Games my phone and netflix are the worst!!

  8. January 15, 2015 / 12:43 am

    I always start my day with the hardest tasks and finish with the easiest. It's my nature to get the tough stuff over with, ASAP.

  9. January 15, 2015 / 1:08 am

    If i do something that isn't on my to-do list, I write it on there, and then cross it off. Lol. Makes me feel like maybe I did accomplish something.

  10. January 15, 2015 / 1:09 am

    Good tips! I'm definitely guilty of frequent procrastination.

  11. January 15, 2015 / 1:32 am

    Love these tips! I do best under pressure so sometimes I procrastinate on purpose 🙂

  12. January 15, 2015 / 2:11 am

    I keep an idea book which slowly turns into a todo list!

  13. January 15, 2015 / 5:20 am

    I love the idea book!

  14. January 15, 2015 / 8:41 am

    Such great tips! I've started keeping an idea book for blog things and it's helped so much. An idea isn't much good when you forget it 😀

    • January 19, 2015 / 4:49 am

      yes, idea book is a life saver in so many occasions. thanks!!!

  15. January 15, 2015 / 10:24 pm

    hahahaha… love you memes, they are so cute. I keep a book on hand or write in my planner ideas, to dos, etc… trying to keep on task can be a pain in the butt sometimes when after you accomplish things… so much better.

    • January 19, 2015 / 4:49 am

      Yes, big props to moms like you who maintain work life balance

  16. January 16, 2015 / 3:37 am

    These are all good tips!

  17. January 16, 2015 / 2:41 pm

    Excellent tips to stay balanced in the midst of the stress! Thank you!

    • January 19, 2015 / 4:48 am

      My pleasure. As the adage goes, don't sweat the small stuff. Easier said than done but if there's a will, there's a way!

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