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Manage your time: top seven workplace tips

14:00 AEST Mon Jun 14 2010
Manage your time. (Getty)
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By Hannah Nicholas,
MSN NZ Money writer

It's 10am on a Monday morning and you're already feeling the pressure of a busy week ahead. The tasks are adding up and you don't know where to begin. Perhaps it's time to look at how to manage your time effectively. Here are our top seven time-management tips for the office.

1. Start your day the right way
Time management is all about planning and prioritising. That is, starting out each working day with a clear plan of where you are headed task and time-wise. Don't be one of those employees with a 100 Post-it notes across your desk. Create a daily to-do list and prioritise.

Some experts suggest making a to-do list for the next day before you leave the office at night others suggest you compile your list first in the morning. Work out which works best for you and stick to it. If there are a lot of items on your list, you will need to give each item a priority level.

2. Learn to manage your time effectively
It's very important that you learn how to use your time effectively. Poor time management can result in a loss of hours and contribute greatly to your stress levels.

According to Kris Cole, an Australian-based psychologist and author of Making Time Work for You: How to get the life you want, always feeling rushed and never quite "catching up" is a very stressful and unhealthy state to allow yourself to get into.

"Don't be like a feather blowing in the wind, responding to every task and every issue that crops up," Cole says. "You'll be working hard but achieving little. Know what's important in your job and focus your efforts and energy on those things."

3. Get organised: ditch the desk clutter
Your goal here is to organise your workspace so that it maximises your efficiency. And remember your files on your computer and e-mail system need to be just as organised as those on your desk.

4. Managing e-mails and a constantly ringing phone
Most time-management experts agree that workers shouldn't check each e-mail as soon as it arrives in their inbox. Their advice is to set particular times of the day at which to read and send e-mails. Perhaps 10 minutes every hour or whatever is necessary in order to keep on top of them. At all other times turn off your incoming e-mail alerts so you aren't constantly distracted.

A constantly ringing phone is just as disruptive as a busy inbox. Like e-mail, you should set aside times to deal with phone correspondence. Cole advises when you need to make calls, make several in one block of time, use voice mail and forward incoming calls to someone else for a short period when necessary and don't feel trapped if someone calls at a bad time. Simply explain that now isn't a good time and agree on a time to call that person back.

5. Avoid time wasters
Most workers are constantly interrupted in the workplace either for work-related or social reasons. Learning how to deal with these interruptions effectively will have a major impact on your time-management skills.

Cole suggests asking yourself this question whenever you're interrupted: what's more important — the interruption or what you're doing? And attend to whichever is more important.

6. Share the load
If you don't have to take on all the workload then don't. Most of us are doing two or three people's jobs as it is so wherever you can, delegate some of your tasks to others.

7. Take time out
No matter how busy your working day is, take time out for a coffee break, a walk during lunch or a visit to the gym if you can. This will do wonders for your health and wellbeing and will ensure you're revived once you sit back down to your tasks.

Lastly, remember, there are only so many hours in the day and the goal of good time management is to work efficiently on the tasks that matter most in your job.

User comments
I worry at the number of times these 'offerings' from the experts and gurus tend to emphasise the negative to get their point across. Take this begins by suggesting that at 10 on Monday morning you are already sick of work..........then goes on to state that most of us are doing 2 or 3 people's jobs. All good stuff to put readers in the right frame of mind???? The best advice I ever saw was to help people determine how they can be most productive during the day, and go for it, even if that means taking the 'phonecall as it comes in or answering an email as it arrives particularly if you are at the sales desk or similar. In the final analysis it is up to the bosses to ensure their people are being productive therefore advice around efficiency must be directed to them. Now I'll go answer my emails!!!
I only see 6 tips here - you really can't count tip number 2. It says 'learn to manage your time more effectively, which is essentially the point of the article. It doesn't tell you how to within that tip. The other 6 tips give some ways that do help.
Sound sense, and quick to read. Thanks.

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