If you’ve made it through your undergrad program or even earned your master’s degree, chances are good that you have developed some time management skills along the way, especially if you’re one of the many students that had to juggle school and a part-time job, or even school, a job, and a family. But as a young professional you’ll face a whole new level of stress and demands on your time as you attempt to beat out your colleagues for promotions and climb the corporate ladder. You have professional goals and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to reach them. But if you really want to trump competitors, you need to work smarter instead of harder. And proper time management can play a major role in making this happen. Here are a few tips to get you started.
- Plan ahead. Planning is the cornerstone of all time-management efforts. Without it you cannot hope to effectively manage your time or your professional pursuits. Every day, before you rush off to your projects, meetings, or other obligations, take the time to sit down and peruse your schedule so you know exactly what’s ahead for you. This will help you to mentally prepare for your day, as well as catch any inconsistencies (like double booking) in advance so that you can make corrections.
- Keep an ironclad schedule. Your schedule dictates how your time is spent, so you not only need it to be precise, but you also need to follow it precisely. For this reason, you need to schedule in both professional tasks and personal time. If you book back-to-back meetings all day without leaving time for meals, bathroom breaks, and down time, you’re going to burn out pretty quickly, or more likely, you’re going to be late for everything as you rush to get from one thing to the next. And the constant stress will burn you out. So make a realistic schedule and you’ll be able to stick to it.
- Prioritize. It can sometimes feel like everything on your to-do list is the most important thing in the world. But you know that’s not true. And if you want to manage your time appropriately, you need to prioritize. This means figuring out how your valuable time can be best spent and then shedding other obligations.
- Delegate if possible. It’s not always easy to manage your time when you’re the low man on the totem pole and everyone is dumping their excess on you. But instead of saying yes to everything, you need to learn to say no when you absolutely can’t handle the additional burden, as well as delegate as much as possible. Even if you can’t necessarily delegate in the office, you can gain some time by handing off tasks in your personal life.
- Take time for yourself. If you’re constantly checking your Magnum Clock to see how late you are or how much sleep you’re missing, you’re not managing your time very well. As the saying goes, all work and no play make you dull. And a sleep deficit can definitely dull your mental facilities. So make sure to make personal time a priority so that when you are working you can give every effort your all.