Anyone that works with a client base, whether in service, sales, high end deliverables, or whatever, will understand that there are expectations waiting for you on a daily basis – meeting deadlines with your client, manager, and peers. Those deadlines also have expectations that the product or service you are providing is of the highest caliber. In recruiting, we want to present the best candidate to the hiring manager. Maybe you are a report analyst and you want that spreadsheet to not only provide data, but tell a story as well. The challenge, is finding a way to manage it all.
Task management is not always easy. To be honest, I find myself frequently evaluating my task management skills and seeing areas I need to improve or am reminded of what works well. Hopefully the following easy tips can help remind you of how you can manage tasks, stay organized, or provide some simple reminders on how to manage your day.
First of all, staying organized is key. We can have all the checklists in the world, but if we don’t know where they are, or actually review them, it won’t matter in the short or long term.
Set expectations. When setting up deadlines use the old adage, “under promise and over deliver.” In other words, make sure the commitments you make are manageable and in a time frame you can meet. Ideally, you should set an expectation and then ensure you beat the deadline with a service or product exceeding what was expected.
Plan your day. One item to do is to take the last 30 minutes of your work day and plan the next day, or maybe take the last hour of your work week to plan the next week. Either way, you should be lining up tasks you need to complete with the deadlines associated with them.
Prioritize your day. Now that you have your daily or weekly tasks in front of you, prioritize them. That may be pretty easy depending on when the deadlines are, but you also want to consider how long and complex each task will take you.
Schedule your tasks. This is also known as Block Scheduling. Now that your tasks are prioritized, schedule time on your calendar for each task. This can be a little daunting at first, especially if you underestimate how much time you need. As you start to use this method you will quickly become more adept at figuring out how much time you need.
Build in some down time. Many times, tasks will take much longer than anticipated, or won’t take nearly as much time as you thought. You will need to build in some gaps for when tasks overlap, and time for other things that occur on a daily basis. Build in time for regular meetings, unexpected things that pop up… and we can’t forget about lunch.
Hold yourself accountable. Make sure you hold to your schedule. There will inevitably be interruptions, like phone calls, impromptu meetings, critical issues, and so on… that you cannot avoid. Use the gaps you build in your day to adjust when your tasks are scheduled, but also ensure you do your best to meet those expectations you have given yourself in terms of task planning, prioritizing, and scheduling.
Recognize Strengths and Weaknesses in Planning. Many that people struggle with staying organized may say, “It’s just not an area I am strong in.” That may be true, but building strong habits in the areas above will help you become stronger in task management. This quote from author Rikki Rogers helped me recently realize this as well: “Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.”
Hopefully these quick tips can help you to start building new strengths, habits, task management, that will help you excel in your role and career growth.