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Time management
16.07.2020

How to get ahead in your career by managing your time better

Tihana Alfirević

Do you ever feel like you are too overwhelmed with work to the point that it keeps you from showing your true potential? Do you want to get ahead in your career but feel stuck? We all feel that way sometimes! And the solution to that is something you heard of a lot of times – time management. There are no shortcuts when it comes to success and proving that you are willing to put in the work is so important. Let us explain.

First things first, being busy and working long hours is not the same as being effective or productive. Being busy just means you have a lot on your plate and even though it can feel good getting home after a long day at work it does not mean you will feel accomplished or get ahead in your career. Feeling accomplished with what you do and that resulting in getting ahead in your career takes time. That time should be managed in a way that makes your accomplishments easier and faster. Make a phrase “Work smarter, not harder” your work philosophy. There are a few steps you could do in order to help you achieve your career objectives.

Identify your problems and bad habits

Constantly evaluate yourself, your work ethics, efficiency, goals. Become familiar with both your strengths that you should emphasize and weaknesses you need to work on. Identify areas for improvement. Identify what makes you feel like you haven't done enough even after a busy day at work. Is it too much work or is it that you feel that you do not have enough time to do everything you are supposed to do? Poor time management is the most common problem people have. It can affect both your work quality and be the root of stress that keeps you from being your best self. Acknowledging your problems and bad habits you have is the first step at progress. If you have a hard time recognizing your problems try and ask a help from your colleagues or your superior. Asking a neutral party for feedback about your work can be beneficial by drawing your attention to details that you yourself are not aware of. Feedback from your colleagues and superiors can be valuable inspiration to your growth.

Set goals and challenge yourself

After detecting your problems and bad habits see how you can work on them and set goals for yourself - what is it that you want to achieve and how do you plan to achieve it. Avoid distractions and restrain yourself from being too immersed in the bad habits that you know you need to quit. However, don't set your bar too high at the beginning, otherwise it can backfire. Even when struggling to attain a goal that seems to be too challenging, set a less difficult version of the goal. Some of your goals can be short term goals. Take it one step at a time.  For example, set more time aside to finish that project that you have been working on. You should want to put in the effort to finish that project, because you actually care about the end result. Other goals can be long term goals. For example, set yourself a goal of getting a raise by the end of the year, or that new job position you always wanted. Either way, set reasonable goals and after you achieve them set yourself new, more challenging ones. Constantly motivate yourself by setting yourself new challenges.

Plan ahead and prioritize

The best way to manage your time is by planning ahead. To-do lists are the most common way of doing that. Incorporate making to-do lists a part or your everyday routine. Make a list of tasks a day ahead, even week ahead. There are some projects and tasks that have strict deadlines, take that into consideration. However, just making a to-do list is far from being organized. Sort through your task list by urgency and importance of each task. Good organization comes from prioritizing your tasks. Eliminate non-priorities. Some tasks are more urgent than the others, that is why they should be placed higher on your to-do list. Some tasks are more important, they should be higher on the list too. So, make a list of your tasks and go through it. Be aware of how much time you need to finish each task, and set a time limit for each one. Learn to navigate through your projects. Not having set goals and schedule can make you feel like you are losing control. Set goals, eliminate and prioritize!

Balance is everything

It is extremely important to plan ahead and prioritize your work tasks, achieving the perfect balance is what comes next. However, balance is sometimes the hardest thing to achieve. Whether it is achieving balance between you career and your personal life or balance in your work, it is important just the same. Setting goals for yourself as well as prioritizing your work tasks should take balance into consideration. Balance your time working and your time off – do not overwork yourself. Even if you're able to juggle your responsibilities, without proper balance you may eventually reach your breaking point. When you feel like you are spending too much time on an activity or a task, step back and evaluate its importance and effect. Manage your expectations while working. Some projects and task are going to demand more dedication, and some will not. There is a phrase - done is better than perfect. Stick to the phrase as much as your work allows you to do so. Create an environment that keeps you motivated.

Audit your time

After implementing all these changes in your work habits it is important to step back from time to time and analyze your progress. Do it as often as you think you should. Try using time tracking software such as TeamBench. TeamBench allows you to export stored data of your work in a report. You can take a look at, for example, your weekly report. It gives you a list of your tasks and project and the time you spent on each of them. Analyze it, see what you are doing well and where you could do better. The insights you get from time tracking can often be eye-opening. See where any potential hiccups are, and use that insight to create strategies to help you. Compare reports of different projects you were working on. Take notes of what you did right and what you can work on to be more efficient. With this information, you can then make the appropriate adjustment and be even more effective. Small improvements to your workflow can have a big impact on your overall efficiency.

Instill good habits

By auditing your time you can recognize good habits you gained. These habits replace bad habits, that kept you from getting ahead, and can solicit other good habits. With a small amount of initial discipline, you can create a new habit that requires little effort to maintain. As a result, you will be more effective, focused and better suited to manage your time even more effectively. Make it happen by knowing what you need to do to get yourself organized and moving in the right direction. Every day offers you a chance to start with good habits, so set yourself up for success by eliminating anything that is disrupting your progress. Begin by practicing these strategies so they become a force of habit to you.

 

Learn new skills

Continuous learning is one of the key workplace habits. Continue to expose yourself to new things on a regular basis, even if you don’t see an immediate benefit take every opportunity to learn that comes your way. Work on your current skills and perfect them. Learn new skills that can help you in getting ahead. Identify and prioritize the skills you need to improve. It is best to focus on the most pressing skill first and then moving on to the next. It may not be easy to do so, but if you learn how to manage time so that it benefits you and your professional growth it is going to be worth it regardless of how demanding the environment you work in is.

Failing is normal

Don’t get discouraged if you fail. Failing is normal, it is just a bump in the road, not the end of the world. When you fail, make sure you learn from what you did, so you can draw from your past experiences in future situations. Until you take responsibility for your growth journey, even the failures, everything will remain the same. Don’t let your fear of failing stop you from your growth. To make progress, you need to pluck up the courage to acknowledge your fears and let go of them. By doing so, you’ll get out of your own way and succeed in your career.

Stress management

Going hand in hand with dealing with failure is your stress management. When practicing time management, you should also manage your mental health. We all get stressed sometimes when things do not work our way, whether related to work or our personal life. However the way we handle stress is of key importance. Dwelling on things going wrong can make us even more stressed. What you should do is focus on the stressor and finding a way to lower its effect on you. Handling stress in a positive way can help you stay motivated and perform well. You might do this by including small breaks throughout your day, rewarding yourself in small ways after accomplishing a task. Working out, being active, meditation, reading and many other things can be your stress relief. The key is finding what works for you.

 

Think of your career plan as any business strategy – it takes consideration, determination and execution in order to go well. But remember, it's a marathon not a race. This path begins with turning away from the quick fixes and instead toward assessing and building our time management skills. It may take time but if you have a plan and motivation anything is possible. Using tools such as time tracking will help you become more focused on your work. You’ll learn how to handle your time and how to get more out of it. At the end of a day, managing your time better enables you to work smarter, not harder, so that you get more done in less time.

 

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