August 2014: Time Management Tips to Achieve Your Full Potential

If you are good at what you do on the job … if you are a conscientious, committed professional … two things will be true: (1) you’ll get more to do, and (2) you’ll want to do it all well.

That’s when the vicious cycle kicks into action.   A few projects turn into many, with demands that overlap and often even conflict. The ball gets dropped in a critical project phase and schedules are compromised … deadlines loom larger and are mercilessly inflexible. Then comes a new week, filled with routine responsibilities … plus new expectations and deadlines. But there are projects carried over from last week still to complete! Tension mounts among team members … anxiety and stress affect concentration and communication … errors result in still more delays and scheduling complications … and on and on and on.

How do you get it all done without bending under the workload? Do you ever feel that you are managing your time better when you are multi-tasking even when it stresses you out? After all, you have a lot on your plate and you have to get the work done somehow. Busy professionals tend to get caught up in “urgency addiction” and “prioritizing on the fly.”

If being good at your job and wanting to do well results in this, who needs it, right? Fortunately, the answer is: It doesn’t have to be that way!  So what’s the answer? Time management!

First Things First: Gain Control of Yourself! – Identify and eliminate time wasters, regain control of your work space and tame the “paper blizzard”, identify and eliminate time-wasters, take control of the clutter – on your desk and in your mind, identify the habits and thought processes that rob you of your time and effectiveness.

Urgent or ASAP: Pinpoint and Pursue Your Real Priorities – Recognize which projects you can, could, or must delegate, and to whom.  Adopt the “F.A.S.T.” track to priority management – Focus, Agree, Schedule, Track. Decrease unnecessary time spent in meetings.

Divide and Conquer: Win the War between Multiple Tasks and Concurrent Deadlines – Develop some planning and organizational techniques to help you stay on target.  Make time for daily planning and develop a prioritized work list while creating a healthy sense of pressure.

Deal with Conflicting or Competing Demands – Discover the greatest time- and labor-saving technique of all time: the power to say “no”. Develop a constructive “worry list” and prepare for the unexpected to relieve the pressures of managing the stress of multiple priorities.

Through It All, Maintain Strong, Positive Working Relationships – Resolve conflicting demands in a manner that cools tempers and earns respect. Learn the right way to ask for what you need without irritating coworkers. Arm yourself with fallback formulas that anticipate human error and scheduling hitches. Learn to accurately gauge your pressure level and apply instant stress reducers.

Establish Solid Defenses Against Advancing Stressors – Develop a Personal Goals Map so personal priorities get equal time.  Create a checklist for developing balance in your life. Reduce stress with a prioritizing system that keeps you in control. Gain control over your time and your work in a way that allows for personal balance.

If all of this makes you feel overwhelmed, just remember that there is a definite up-side to “feeling the pressure.”  One of the problems with getting too comfortable is that it can affect your performance. When you’re working on tasks that you’re extremely familiar with, it can be tempting to do the bare minimum to get by. This can eventually have a negative impact on your reputation, your team, and even your career.

This is why it’s so important to push yourself regularly, and to try new things. Challenges, whether running a marathon or learning a new skill, can bring a sense of power and exhilaration. When challenged, we feel fully alive and engaged, because we’re actively participating in life, and we’re doing our best to achieve our full potential. C>

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