A lot of IT professionals are struggling to balance increased workloads because their employers can’t find enough talent to handle their current project load. Whether you’re on top of your deadlines but looking for a little time management boost or you’re struggling to keep your head above water, asking yourself the following five questions will help you understand what you need to do to improve your time management skills.
1. What are my favorite tasks on my schedule? Knowing which tasks you look forward to is a great first step in improving your time management skills. When you identify which elements of a project you love doing the most, you can disperse those evenly throughout your week, loading them towards the end of your day, to keep your motivation up. It’s best to do the other tasks, the ones you don’t enjoy as much, towards the beginning of the day when you have more energy and save the ones you love for the end so that, if you need to stay late, it won’t feel like as much of a chore.
2. What would I like to do more of with my time? Maybe you’d like to have lunch with a friend more often or you’d like to make more time to exercise. Often, we don’t feel like we have room in our schedules to fit in these fun, life improving tasks because the rest of our time seems so full. Additionally, there may be certain elements of a project you’d like to focus on more or different technologies you’d like to use more often. Knowing what you want to do more of with your time creates motivation to get less exciting tasks done faster and may even point you towards the necessity of a job or career change.
3. Which tasks take up more time than I think they should? Does brainstorming take up way too much time? Does checking your email suck time out of your already packed schedule? Identify less important tasks that seem to be taking up way more time than they should and start giving them time limits. You’ll waste less time on these trivial tasks so you have more to do the things you want and need to be doing.
4. Which tasks do I put off or procrastinate? Maybe you hate the time it takes to test or document something so you put it off. Maybe you can’t stand one, tough project that you’re currently working on so you procrastinate. The best way to improve your time management when it comes to tasks you frequently try to push off is to tackle them at the beginning of the day. When you first come into work you’re the most motivated, energetic, and focused you will be for the rest of the day. Use that extra energy to push through tasks you’d normally put off and save the ones you actually enjoy doing for later.
5. Am I organized and on schedule for my deadlines? Part of time management is staying on top of when things are due. If you’re not organized it may be getting in the way of the better time management skills you so desperately want. Take time at the end of the work week or the beginning of Monday morning to organize your desk, set deadline reminders, create a to-do list and generally prepare for staying on top of your schedule. You’ll be amazed at how much this helps!
Time management is an essential skill in almost any career. If you’re looking to improve your time management skills, ask yourself these five questions and take the steps you need to start making changes and creating a more efficient, enjoyable workday.