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Time management at work

Sarah Horrocks
by Sarah Horrocks Published on November 15, 2007

E-mails popping up all the time, the phone ringing non-stop and meetings cramming up your diary? Worried you won’t be able to meet your deadlines? The only solution is to get organized. Here’s some advice to keep from getting snowed under.

Answering emails
Set aside time each day to reply to your emails instead of stopping what you’re doing every time a new one pops up. Open your inbox first thing in the morning and spend half an hour replying to emails, then close it and only check your new messages once or twice for the rest of the day.

Cut the phone
It’s not easy to get on with your work when the phone won't stop ringing. When you don’t want to be disturbed, switch your voicemail on. If you don’t have an answer phone, try and come to an arrangement with someone else in the office. Arrange to take her calls in the morning if she’ll take yours in the afternoon, so that you can focus on what you’re doing. When you’ve finished the job in hand, listen to your voicemail and call people back if you need to.

Plan your breaks
When you’ve loads of jobs to finish, a presentation to prepare and a meeting with a client after that, the last thing you want is Christine waltzing into your office, coffee in hand, wanting to talk about last night’s TV. Don't let chatting workmates use your office as a recreation room! To keep the peace, ask people to ring (or even better, email) instead of just turning up unannounced. Or agree on a set time to get together at the coffee machine for a break.

Anticipate
Avoid doing things at the last minute as far as you can. Deadlines are usually pretty generous, so instead of slogging away at something the week before it’s due, spend a couple of hours a week on the job if you can over the six-week period before a deadline hits. You’ll avoid last-minute catastrophes.

List your tasks in order of importance
Make a To Do list of everything you have to get through. Instead of letting the work pile up and weigh you down, set down in black and white what you have to achieve, right from the most important and urgent to the smallest of tasks. Then put them in order, underlining priorities and striking them off as you get them done. You’ll be able to organize yourself much more easily and you won’t forget anything!

Set time aside for emergencies
If you do everything at the last minute you won’t have any space in your diary for extra work or impromptu meetings that can crop up. Nothing ever happens as it’s meant to, and the best of plans can be thrown into chaos! Save yourself the panic and stress by setting a slot aside every day for unexpected extras.

by Sarah Horrocks

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