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Top time management tips

PAs the world over need to be on top of everything. As the role becomes more in line with middle management, they’re expected to be able to prioritise their work to meet tight deadlines. Here, lifestyle website MyDomain gives its top time management tips for busy people.

Study yourself
Take a week to track your habits. Pay attention to how much time you spend on each of your tasks. Use this information to better structure your day. If you know a weekly project takes you an hour, block out that time in your schedule to get the work done. Knowing how long it takes you to do daily tasks helps you formulate a daily to-do list and it feels good to cross things off.

Schedule, schedule, schedule
Research calendar tools – apps, Outlook tricks, or web-based schedulers – and find one that works for you. MyDomain’s Katie Sweeney, a former assistant for high-profile clients, says she keeps Google Calendar open in a separate window all day. Add all of your daily tasks to this schedule and colour-code it for easier organisation, then share it with your boss and anybody else who needs to know what you do. Try to do the same with your executive’s calendar if it works for him or her so both of your diaries look similar. You can also use these tools to store useful information, such as names and addresses.

Set reminders
If you’re a forgetful person or you don’t have the time to look at your schedule several times a day, set yourself reminders for important projects. Even if you know something doesn’t need to be done for weeks or months, a reminder is a great way to keep you from forgetting anything. This can also work in your personal life when it comes to birthdays and bill payments.

Know yourself
We all have a different style of working. If your job is flexible or you’re a business owner, learn what time of day you’re most productive. Figure out your ideal working conditions and stick to them when you plan your day and be sure to make your boss or clients aware of your hours.

Make organisation key and prioritise
Create routines and automate everything you possibly can. If there are emails you send frequently, set up a template so you can just drop in key information. Start each day by writing a manageable to-do list and prioritise items on it by numbering them in order of importance. If not doing a task by the end of the day won’t have a negative impact on your work, save it until the next day if need be.

Don’t procrastinate
Sometimes it’s easier to get the easy stuff done first. If it takes you two minutes to do it, there’s no point putting it off. Never avoid tasks you don’t enjoy; no matter how much you ignore it, it’ll still be on your list to be done.

Block out distractions and plan for interruptions
Schedule in blocks of time when you close your email and ignore phone calls so you can get important projects done. You’d be surprised at how much you can accomplish when you don’t have any distractions. If there are certain points during your day that tend to get disrupted more, try not to schedule anything important. This also gives you a bit of down time to get little bits and pieces done.

Recognise your limits
Pay close attention to your schedule every day. If your boss keeps piling work on you, don’t be afraid to say no. Understand your limits and don’t let anybody push them. Overworking yourself can only end in burnout and sickness.

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