Organizing Your Working Hours — What to Do When There’s Too Much to Do

Organizing Your Working Hours -- What to Do When There’s Too Much to Do

Do you often feel as though there simply aren’t enough hours in the working day for what awaits you?  Perhaps you already have a full day of tasks, but more jobs arise and you know you will have to work overtime to get them all done.  When this happens a few times a month or year, you can usually work it out somehow.  But what about when it happens every day?  That is when it’s a good time to consider whether you are being assigned too many tasks at work, whether you need to delegate jobs to others, or if there are ways to work more efficiently and productively.

Reflect on current practices

The first step to organizing your time is to stop and look at how you spend it: how your work day is organized, how much you get done, how much you want to do, and where the time goes.  Perhaps the problem is in your time management, which then causes your work to accumulate until you must work longer hours to get it all done.  Or it might be that you simply have too much work to do, maybe due to poor scheduling or because you are trying to do everything yourself without help from colleagues.

After work one day, take your time and write down all the daily work tasks you needed to cover and manage.  Are there any routine tasks that you do daily or at a particular time of day during the month? Assign them points according to the importance and also difficulty. Is the job a priority? Is it time-sensitive?  Are other people inside or outside of your company waiting for your results?  Do you spend an hour or two of working time on it every day? 

Start fresh

Successful individuals know very well that it is best to deal with each day’s most challenging task in the morning.  You will have more energy, you will not be delayed by other (less vital) business, and you will not have this task hanging over your head for the rest of the day.  Once you have the most challenging project out of the way, you will be able to dedicate much better time and energy to the rest of your day.  When this job is done, then take some time to organize your remaining work day.  Make a list of things that need to get done, consider their importance/difficulty, and assign each of them a time limit or deadline. 

Stepping out

Do you know that you will have an appointment outside the office one day? Try to schedule all the appointments you must have for one day. This way, you will efficiently handle all of your out-of-the-office meetings at once and you can give your full attention to the office’s tasks for the next few days. If appointments are spread out throughout the week, you will waste far more time unnecessarily.  If it is impossible to hold all of these sessions on the same day, try to tie them in with other times you will already be out of the office: at the start of the day, before or after your lunch break, or just before you will head home. 

Order on your desk and in the office

Do you have your own office, an assigned desk, or a place you regularly work every day? Keep this place tidy. Documents should be neatly arranged according to how and when you need them, and carefully labeled so that you know where to reach for them quickly. Also, if you borrow coffee mugs, glasses, or saucers from a common kitchen, take the time to return and wash them immediately. In a mess or chaos, people generally concentrate poorly, and work can take longer because attention is fleeing elsewhere.

Delegate!

You don’t have to be a hero and handle everything alone.  Don’t put a million tasks on yourself, which can only get done at the expense of your free time with family and friends.  Consider certain projects carefully and weigh them against the skills of your co-workers — you will undoubtedly find that your colleagues and subordinates have talents that can help you get the job done.  Passing on assignments also benefits your co-workers because they will learn something, they will have a job, and they will feel that their skills are being appreciated.  You may have heard the expression, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.”  This is not true!  If you want something done right, you must simply put it in the hands of the right person.

Breaks are a must

Work can expand to take up as much time as you allow.  It’s easy to say, “I’ll be done in a moment” only to discover that hours have slipped by.  When you work non-stop, you will find that you don’t think properly and will make unnecessary mistakes.  Instead, plan breaks into every day.  These might occur at the same time every day, or at the completion of a particular task or phase of a project.  During your break, do anything that helps you reclaim your energy: take a quick walk outside, savor a cup of coffee, close your eyes and meditate, or simply breathe deeply for a few minutes.