Maximize Your Work Day

June 26, 2013

The long awaited season 4 of Arrested Development has finally been made available on Netflix.  To my surprise, all 15 episodes were released on the same day!  Pre-children, my husband and I would have gorged ourselves on an all-day screenfest and completed the season already.  Since my young, impressionable kids have no interest in the show and need to be taken care of, we have to fit in an episode here and there in our busy day.  Even though it’s only a TV show, I feel the unwatched episodes hanging over my head like undone to-dos and it drives me crazy.  All this brings me to one of the most important things in my life: time management.  I need proper time management in order to be a good employee, wife, mother, etc.  I can only imagine how many more demands there will be on my time when my children are in sports and school activities.

I have tried a variety of tips and programs and figured out what works best for me and my lifestyle.  So, what are my strategies?

* I check my email and Kona conversations all day long.  I have tried the expert advice to schedule blocks of time or check once an hour but that doesn’t work for me.  I read everything as it comes in and categorize immediately.  I delete the emails and clear the unread conversation bubbles.  I assign myself tasks as needed.  It’s then clear to me what I need to take action on and when.

* Tasks, tasks, and more tasks.  I am a list-maker.  I have a constant active to do list going with clear start and end dates, descriptions and helpful links.  I have set up recurring tasks for items that have standard due dates.  Everything in my work and personal life is a task.  I don’t need to remember anything because I note it immediately.  (I love forwarding emails to Kona to create tasks or using the mobile app to add one quickly).

* Pretty set office hours.  Although I allow myself flexibility depending on the events and requirements of the day, I have generally scheduled my office hour time so I know when to turn on and off employee mode.

* I’m a night person so I do as much as possible the night before to plan for the next day.  I would imagine an early bird would get more benefit from arising earlier than normal but I’m yawning through my morning routine.  So my clothes, lunch, and laptop are all packed as well as everything the kids need.  I check my consolidated work and personal calendar, and the weather so I can plan accordingly.  I do one last Kona, email, Facebook check before bed so I’m up to date on everything.

* I like to use first thing in the morning for catching up and last thing in the evening of my office hours for planning for the next day.  Accordingly, I schedule my meetings and heavy projects around those times.  It helps me get oriented to the day and get ready to attack the next day.

* Micro breaks.  I use an app called TheMovement.net to remind me to take a quick stretch break every hour.  I like the reminder and I feel better when I’m doing it.  It’s also a good way to keep track of my day – it’s been another hour already??

* Scheduled calendar reminders.  I can easily get absorbed into my work and lose track of time.  So I have blocked out time on my calendar for things I need to remember to do (“Pick up kids at daycare” pops up a reminder 15 minutes before I need to go and then I keep snoozing it as I finish up my work.)

Check out these articles for more tips on time management, courtesy of Slideshare and Entrepreneur.

Have you found what works best for you?  What are your best time management tips?  Let us know in the comments below!

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