“I need the marketing reports done by the 15th, the shirts for the tradeshow need to be ordered as soon as possible, and could you edit this press release by the end of the day?” Sometimes work can seem a little overwhelming with all the tasks that need to be done. For some strange reason, I find that at any job there are some days that are incredibly busy and others that are not. Part of going to work is dealing with the ‘peaks and valleys’ of work and the change in workload. In my current co-op position, there are some days where I need to juggle many different tasks at one time. Sometimes there is so much to do in so little time, so here are 3 strategies that I use to plan out my tasks and to use my time wisely:
1. Make a List
Whenever I feel overwhelmed with things to do, whether at work or at home, I make a list of what I need to complete. I always feel like things can get accomplished when they are in a list format! What I do is I list the top priorities at the beginning, and generally, it is organized by due date. Sometimes making a list can take a bit of time, but trust me when I say that it's worth those extra minutes to get organized! Just be aware: most tasks can take longer than you expect. When I make a rough plan for my day, I always anticipate that my task will take longer than planned, because there is always the possibility something will go wrong. If something does go wrong, or something unexpected comes up, you have allowed extra time for these incidences.
2. Make the Most of All Your Time
As I mentioned before, work is not always ‘go-go-go’ and there is some downtime when there is not as much to do. The best thing you could do is prepare. I like to use this time to organize my desk, make new folders in my email to make myself more efficient, and of course, work on things ahead of schedule if you have a regular deadline. For example, I always need to do marketing reports every month, so I know I can work on it ahead of time. This is especially important if I know I will be busy by the time the marketing report is due. Just thinking ahead and using the slower times to your advantage can really make life easier for you when you are busy.
3. Block Out Distractions
I am constantly receiving email at work, and it can be very distracting sometimes! This is not good, especially if you are trying to balance your time at work with all the different tasks you need to do. Instead of clicking to read every email, most of which are normally mass emails to the company that generally are less important (at least for me), focus on your task at hand. Resist the temptation of distraction, and focus! You might even want to consider turning off your email for a short time to really concentrate. Sometimes you cannot block out all your distractions, but try and control the ones that you do have power over, like email or going on social networking sites.
Even if you work like a maniac to try to get things done, sometimes you simply just cannot. My biggest tip would be to keep communicating with your supervisor. Sometimes they are busy with their own work and might not understand that you have a lot on your plate as well, especially if you have more than one supervisor giving you work. However, by keeping them in the loop and communicating any hiccups along the way, they are more likely to be more understanding if you do not finish a task on time, or they might even give you a hand to help you. Hopefully, you will not have to experience hiccups, but when you do, you can use these easy time management tips to work more efficiently and productively!
Beyond the Blog
Check out Natalie's other Co-op Blog Series with TFSCE.