You cannot manage time. Unless you’re Stephen Hawking of course. But the odds are you’re not. What you can do is plan the way you use the time available to you. Way too many people, including me, fill their calendars with meetings all the way up. When this happens there is not enough time to complete the tasks you have for the day or the pressing issues that will come up that very day.
There are a couple of things that need addressing at the office:
Face it, all of these are important in the office space. The best you can do work and time wise is to set boundaries for the first two items as they’re things you can control, to some extent at least.
If possible, start the most important tasks immediately in the morning and get it out of the way. This way you’re ahead of everybody else who are still reading their emails when you’ve already finished the most important task of the day. Many people start their day by reading their emails. Just don’t. For the same reason avoid having meetings first thing in the morning.
Another thing to remember is to leave enough time in-between the meetings so you can recap and see what you actually need to do. If you absolutely have to start your day with meetings then make sure you have enough time to finish the tasks before you head home.
In most office environments your calendar can be seen by others (Outlook calendars for example). If you have a scheduled a meeting for doing tasks (be it only by yourself) it’s less likely that you will get overwhelmed with so many meetings that you won’t be able to finish anything else that day.
Having said that the most important thing about time management is this. Schedule time for yourself to check off the tasks for the day. And after that leave enough room for mingling. You’ll do that anyway.
So stop trying to manage time. Instead plan your time to work effectively.
Paul Rauno Merisalu November 14th, 2012