Everyone knows that a day is only 24 hours long. Yet yours sometimes seems shorter. While all your colleagues seem to be thriving at work, you can’t help but run around trying to get through the day. What can you do about it? How do you take back control of your time, despite a list of deadlines that keeps piling up and getting closer? Today, we are going to try to give you some keys that will allow you to regain control of your time and your agenda while not abandoning your efficiency to find time for yourself.
If there’s one tip you need to take away from this guide, it’s probably this one: learn to say “no.” Most overworked people admit it: they have too much work. Time management problems are rarely rooted in gross inefficiency, but often in overwork.
“Would you be available tomorrow at 4 p.m. for a quick call?” your office colleagues often ask. Learn to refuse. Politely, of course, but firmly. It’s probably not that one small call that will completely change your workload, but minute by minute, it may tip you over the edge.
If you are not available or already have enough work, refuse any additional workload. This will put the first stop to your problem.
Learning to say no is not always easy. Especially since your co-workers may not realize how much work you have to do. Don’t hesitate to be as transparent as possible: with your colleagues, your supervisor, or others. They will understand all the more that it might be appropriate to do without you for an informal discussion this afternoon.
Our technique: use digital tools to your advantage. If you have a public calendar, include all your professional activities. Even if you just have a quick call at 2 pm, add it to your calendar. This will tell your colleagues that you are not available at that time, and probably not the next minute.
Also remember that organization is efficiency: group all your similar activities and limit multitasking. The human brain is very bad at switching quickly from one task to another, which often takes a little time to adapt and adds a layer to the accumulated stress.
You can group your tasks by type, by topic, by contact person or whatever. Experiment. You will find what saves you the most time.
Also think about sorting out: get rid of all unnecessary or low-value activities. Before you go to a meeting or start a job, ask yourself, “Is this really the best I can do right now?”. This applies especially to long, time-consuming meetings, which often tend to pile up in our modern society. If such an opportunity arises, avoid participating. If you must attend anyway, avoid dragging it out. When the meeting is over, politely bow out and go back to your priority tasks.
The last tip we can give you is the “time-blocking” technique. What is this, you may ask? The principle is very simple: “take time for yourself”. If your day is a succession of meetings and phone calls, you will probably not be able to make any progress on the important file you have been working on for months. You’ll have to take your work home and risk your precious free time to complete your task.
Instead, take time for yourself: block time in your calendar to set aside time for your important activities. If you need three hours to work on a file, block out that time. Don’t accept any calls or meetings during those few hours to avoid interruptions. You will be more efficient if you are not disturbed. If you have a shared corporate calendar, this is the perfect place to mention these kinds of events: Monday, from 8 to 11, you are working on your file, and are therefore not available.
Datelist is a time-saving online appointment scheduling software. Using a digital scheduling calendar, offer your colleagues and clients the opportunity to book appointments with you when they want while booking your own calendar and avoiding time conflicts. Reduce the back and forth emailing to find a time that works for you: let people book themselves, and focus on what matters most to you.