Managing your time effectively can have profoundly positive effects on your productivity at work as well as your general sense of well-being.
Monitor Your Goals
Monitor the goals you set in your Annual Plan to make sure they are still realistic. Sometimes you will need to modify these as circumstances change. Having realistic, achievable goals can help you manage your time better.
Know Your Best Working Times
Are you a morning person? A night owl? Do you tend to wilt after lunch? Our personal energy cycles influence our alertness and productivity at different times of the day. We can often get twice as much done in an hour when we’re alert and productive than when our energy is at an ebb.
- Think about when you are your most alert and productive, and schedule that time for your tasks that require thinking and analysis.
- Think about when you tend to wilt or fade, and save mundane tasks for that time of day.
Get Enough Sleep
Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. Sleep deprivation can cause disorientation, irritability, difficulty concentrating and memory problems. People who haven’t had enough sleep make more mistakes and are less productive. Napping helps, but it’s not a replacement for uninterrupted sleep.
Plan Uninterrupted Time
An important consideration for effective time management is finding regular times in your day when you can work uninterrupted. Then you can schedule tasks that require concentration and focus at these times.
If you don’t have any blocks of time that can be predictably defined as uninterrupted, you may need to create them. Here are some things that you can do to create uninterrupted time:
- turn off the phone ringer
- close your office door
- work at home or away from your office in a quiet place
For some people, procrastination is a real time management problem that keeps them from achieving their goals. When you find yourself procrastinating, ask yourself:
- Why are you procrastinating in the first place?
- Is this task important to you?
- Does it link to one of your long-term goals or priorities?
- If the task isn’t important to you, is it important to someone else?
Perhaps if this task isn’t important to you, it's something that you can consider delegating.
Delegation can help you get more things done and provide opportunities for others to gain experience in work related to graduate research. Here are some tips for effective delegating:
- Don’t delegate what you can eliminate.
- Respect other people’s time and abilities: Consider who can do the job most efficiently and effectively and when.
- Delegate some tasks you don’t want to delegate. Often, our pet tasks impede our ability to get more important things done. Usually someone else can do these pet tasks just as well as you can.
- Plan your delegation. Consult with others first, select people you think are capable of doing the job and who would like to do the job, then train them if necessary. Delegate gradually, insist on feedback, and then leave them alone.
- Delegation is one of the most effective methods of developing other’s skills. Make the extra effort to spread delegation across the board, and develop a strong team with no weak links.
Delegation is not only a skill, it’s a way of life: Like everything else, in order to be effective, you have to work at it. But once perfected, it will multiply your success a hundredfold.
It is often difficult to say 'no' to requests that are made of you. Here are some things that you can do to determine what you need to say 'no' to, and how to say it:
- Why do you want to do this? Is this something that relates to your priorities or do you want to do this because your ego is involved? Sometimes we say "yes" to things because we want to boost our egos, even if the task or project takes time away from our other priorities.
- Buy yourself time before you respond. If you are unsure, ask the person if you can get back to them. During this time you should think about what saying "yes" to this task means: what you will gain from it, how much time it will really take, and what you won’t be able to do if you say "yes".
- Block out time in your calendar first. Make your other tasks and responsibilities explicit to yourself and others. Block out the time this task will take and see how it fits in with your other tasks.
- Get a second opinion. Ask a trusted colleague or friend what he or she thinks. Find out what your friend thinks you would gain or lose by saying "yes" or "no".
- Look for other solutions. Could you do part of the task? Can you provide guidance to another person instead? Is there someone else who might be better suited to the task?
- If you are sure you need to say "no", say it sooner rather than later, and say it firmly but graciously.