5 tips for more effective time management at work

I used to be fairly unprepared for meetings, I would stay late back at the office to meet deadlines very often always, I never used to have time for lunch, I was living on caffeine like a junky, I would constantly have work thoughts in my head when I slept and the blackberry drove me mad until I smashed it against my bedroom wall straight across from my bed with the rage and anger that I felt inside. But the truth was, I needed to plan my time better. Surely the reason for a lunch break is to refresh one’s self not just with nourishment Kenchic, but to get away from my desk and colleagues, just for a bit. Learning time management was difficult but has greatly improved my life and office stress levels. This is what has worked for me so far.

1. Emails
The thing about emails, is that they are sent from anywhere at any time. So even when you clear your inbox by 5pm trust you me the other people you work around – suppliers, clients, colleagues – are still at their desks sending emails and burning the midnight oil worse still is when they are international and there’s time differences involved. You will always find emails waiting for you every morning without fail. The thing with emails is that you can find half your day gone just from pure correspondence and then end up tired, resulting in sluggishly working in the afternoon. The minute you respond the correspondence, no sooner have you clicked send than a reply has been sent. See, it’s a game to keep you there, and when you start you get hooked to replying!

True phenomenon… I discovered however that I could do emails in the afternoon, when you are more or less tired of other work. You should also keep emails to the point. I sometimes used to get emails with “Hi… I hope you have been well since we last met. How is business going at…” it’s annoying. I prefer to email “Hi, attached for your reference. Regards…” if you need to suck up to a client/supplier for any reason, do so in person it’s more effective anyway. Keep say 2-3.30pm for tackling emails. If someone calls to say they need an urgent response you don’t have to break your legs for them, instead put the item as a top priority in your To Do List. How does this help? See the next item…

2. To Do List
Have a to do list, with priorities at the top moving down the list to least priority. Each morning you get to work look through your list and plan for the day. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail, same goes for organizing your work. Knock off each item from the list as you finish it. Be cautioned however, spend time working ON the list and not working AT your list. What do I mean? Well, I once had a colleague who would literally take almost an hour forever updating her To Do List trying to make it so perfect making sure she had covered every single thing needed to be done, that by the time she was done, she was drained, tired and done for the day with a really really long list to prove it. So it can work for you if you work on it. You should always read through the list to keep reminding yourself of what’s need next and to see what you can delegate.

3. Lunch break
Fairly simple here, TAKE A LUNCH BREAK! It’s meant to refresh you for the afternoon work, it’s your ‘me’ time, you need it and its yours. Take the break away from your desk; dare I mention how unhygienic any average desk is? You need the fuel refill into your system and a breath of fresh air. Ok I must admit in banks this is hard to do, but you can leave your post surely for at least a half hour. Fact, a lunch break is yours, it’s in your contract, you are a human being and you will collapse if you don’t slow down. Of what help would you be to your employer if you reach the collapsing stage?

4. Meetings
As much as some of us may hate meetings, whether internal or external we have to attend them for the interest of our jobs. Like many, I have attending meetings where I was clueless on the agenda. Either I was too busy doing something else to bother reading the agenda or I was too tired and after all I just needed to be there physically. Meetings can be used to your advantage though even when you didn’t plan the meeting yourself. Always be prepared for the meeting, keep the dress code professional and neat and take time to skim that agenda you were sent. Always have a progress update of where exactly you are at with your own work and note them down, you will be prepared should you be asked anything and you will appear fairly organized. Listen during the meetings, try hard not to zone out too much, there is a reason you were invited for this meeting. You should also remember the names of those you met and ask for a business card as you share yours. Ask questions even if you think you’ll sound retarded. Some women are even scared of speaking in meetings but be brave and raise your hand to speak. If you can, make additional comments where relevant to your work.

5. Be yourself and breathe
I became fairly competent with managing my time, got to have my one hour lunch break and left the office by 5pm. This is when I got a light bulb moment, which I will share with you. Your job is just a job, and you can easily loose it just as it came. I had migraines and lived on caffeine, always to make it through my day. My result was palpitations like you wouldn’t believe and an unhealthy lifestyle. You can change it though. Don’t think you need to constantly monitor how much better your colleagues are doing than you. The people who easily do poorly at work are those who always look back in the rat race wondering how far his/her colleagues are. Focus on yourself, your performance and how to improve that performance using a style that works for you. Don’t be ordinary, be extraordinary. Every now and then take a moment to breathe and remember you have a life outside your job. You’re a person you are not your job.

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  • James Ouma

    This is superb! I think I need this the most since I always spend a huge chink of my time doing things that aren’t in my schedule. Great job!!!

  • http://lily.co.ke/members/nkinyanjui/ Naomie

    Glad you enjoyed it!

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