“If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day
‘Til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you.”
Ah, Jim Croce. I love this song about saving time in a bottle so you can spend it with the one you love. But, being totally honest here, if I could save time in a bottle, I’d probably bring that bottle to work with me to help me manage my task list.
But, I can’t. So in my quest for help with time management, I’ve had to employ other, less romantic strategies. Maybe they can benefit you, too.
Prioritize tasks and hit the biggest ones first
There are lots of little metaphors and object lessons out there to illustrate this important time management strategy. One of my favorites is this illustration by Stephen Covey. If you want to fit all of the sand, pebbles, and rocks into the jar, you have to put the biggest rocks in first and let the smaller things find their place around them. It’s the only way. I’ve gotten into the habit of identifying the two to four most crucial things I have to do each day and tackling those before anything else. If I get to the pebbles or the sand, that’s a bonus.
Learn when to say no
It’s hard to say no sometimes, especially when you’re a people pleaser like me. But, taking on small tasks can distract from the big rocks in your life. Saying yes to everything can lead to long-term consequences, like turning in low quality work or developing a reputation for overpromising and underdelivering. I’m not advocating slacking off or not being a team player. I’ve learned that sometimes you have to say no now so that you can say yes later.
It may seem counterintuitive, but taking breaks makes us more productive. It also helps keep us from feeling overwhelmed. I try to take at least 10 mins of my day and devote it to re-setting myself. It might not be glamorous (we don’t have a hot tub in the office just yet), but a short yoga video or even just sitting in my car watching YouTube videos for 10 minutes really helps me refresh so I can stay on track.
Stay focused on the task at hand
Solarity operates on a set of core values, one of which is focus. Staying focused leads to a higher quality of service for our customers and better quality of life for ourselves. Focus comes from being fully immersed and present in the task. I’ve learned that closing extra browser windows on my laptop, popping in my earbuds, and listening to music helps me focus.
Progress, Not Perfection
I won’t say I’ve got it all figured out yet. I’m a work in progress, but the tips above have helped me to better juggle my responsibilities at work and provide quality results for my team and our clients.
What are some of your best time management strategies?
About the Author
Brandy Whisman is an administrative professional at Solarity. She enjoys bringing clarity to chaos and helping people find a healthy balance in work, life, and relationships. Brandy received her B.A. from Berea College and her JD from the University of the District of Columbia.
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