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.
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!
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”.
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?