There just isn’t enough time in the day. Time moves on and, before you know it, the day is over and you haven’t accomplished a third of what you set out to do.
But, what if you can manage your time and use it more effectively so that you feel content and proud at the end of each day? I can’t speak for you, but I would certainly prefer this.
So, how can you manage your time in the workplace and be flexible with what may come your way?
In my case, I work in a showroom where there is constant contact with customers, whether they touch base with us by email, make an appointment, walk in, ask for a purchase order, have a customer service issue, etc. I need to complete tasks efficiently and effectively with few issues; that is how a showroom must run to be profitable.
Within this chaos, I like to find my peace. That peace is found in how I direct my time and focus so I do not become overwhelmed or upset by all that is in flux. Being overstressed is not good for anyone, both physically and mentally, so finding peace is important.
The truth is, you are the one fully in control of how your day goes. So, how can you achieve a peaceful work environment? Following are some helpful ideas that get me through my week – ideas I believe can get the ball rolling for you.
The Right Timing
Learning how to control your time is fundamental to finding your peace. There are several steps to this that work for me.
Find your optimal time of day. I perform best in the mornings. I am at my sharpest, and luckily my showroom is usually at its quietest. That is when I can finish any daunting task that I may have delayed (such as writing this article)! I prefer to address those items in the morning so that I can have an easier afternoon, which is also when my energy wanes.
Set days for your tasks. On Mondays I tend to review where I left off on Friday and begin to check emails, starting the work week off fresh and with a positive attitude.
On Tuesdays, I check my purchase orders for confirmations. Were my purchase orders received by the vendor? Are there any discrepancies I need to address?
On Wednesdays I finish outstanding quotes that may have been giving me angst or that I am not fully comfortable with. This is my day to ask questions of vendors or colleagues so I can complete my work.
On Thursdays I fill out my purchase orders for the week. Personally, unless it is an overnight or something else that needs to be addressed immediately, I like to give purchase orders a few days to rest before sending. I find that it saves the trouble of adjusting should the customer have a change of heart.
Fridays are when I review all emails in my inbox from the week, checking that I didn’t miss any or forget to return a message. I then mark down what is needed for Monday so I am not thinking about work over the weekend.
In addition to controlling your time, planning out jobs is important as well.
Limit Multitasking. Nothing at work is more disruptive than having to constantly change your focus. If you’re able to, finish what you’ve started. If you’re in a groove, see if that phone call or email can wait. If it can’t, then make sure you mark where you left off and get back to it as soon as you can. Multitasking makes you more prone to errors and lessens your memory and focus. It also lowers your quality of work.
Collate Related Tasks. To further minimize multitasking, put related tasks together. For me, that means collating all the purchase orders to be typed at the same time, as well as compiling my orders that need payment and charging them at the same time. This way I am focused on one meaningful task and not jumping around and losing focus.
Weigh the Pros and Cons. If you find you can’t get everything done, determine the priorities. Perhaps the more vocal customer’s task is more important to complete for your sanity, or perhaps you will be in a bind if you don’t complete something else. Whatever it is, think about what will help you the most. Weigh the pros and cons of each item and finish the one with greater consequences.
Meetings. If you are leading a meeting, make it a productive one. Have the points you need to review already outlined and memorized. Be cognizant to cover only the necessary information for your meeting because your coworkers had to stop what they were doing to listen. End your meeting with a plan and what is expected of your team.
Use a Calendar. I still like my paper planner, but any calendar will do. Mark down dates and times for appointments or other important dates you need to remember. On Fridays, when I am reviewing those emails, I also review my calendar for the upcoming week. Here’s a tidbit: the use of a calendar doesn’t just pertain to work. I use my calendar for when bill payments are due, plans are made, groceries need to be purchased and any other related tasks. When life gets busy, the calendar is your reminder. Trust me, not everyone is naturally organized and that is okay. It is a learned trait that can be perfected over time. I strongly believe organization is pertinent in all areas of your life. It helps create a less stressed environment while gifting you a clearer mind. It’s a no-brainer to me!
So, at the end of the day remember, “Either the day runs you, or you run the day.” Which will you choose? ▪
Lisa Pinchoff is a project manager at The Brass Center in New York City. She has been in the decorative plumbing and hardware industry for over 15 years and is active in the Decorative Plumbing and Hardware Association’s Professional Development Committee. She is also mom to a sweet little girl who will be two in November.