Abigail Barnes details her top tips to help you manage your day and feel more successful
You are about to enter the most exciting year of your career and life so far. You have the power to choose what happens this year, and now is the time to put everything you know into practice, to throw out the old and maximise the new.
Let’s be honest. In your world no two days are the same, priorities change, the executives you support can be unpredictable and the unexpected happens. You are the fixer required to pull rabbits out of the hat, respond to emergencies, adapt to your surroundings and execute like a pro. And, in between responding to the ‘emergencies’ you still have deadlines to meet and a to-do list to complete.
To the world at large you glide through these problems like a serene swan while all the time your duck legs are flapping at 1000 miles an hour under the water where no-one can see.
As far as effective time management is concerned your job is much more a question of energy management. Here are 8 tips to help you manage your day and feel more successful:
1. You’ve got this
Your job isn’t standard or predictable. Embrace that, you signed up for variety. Things will come from left field and it is part of your role is to respond, resolve and move on. Accept that there will always be enough time to get what you had planned for the day done.
2. Let it go
The minute you give yourself permission to accept tip 1 is the minute that you can breathe a sigh of relief. Begin to develop your new skill set: an ability to focus and work in productive chunks, not worrying about interruptions but safe in the knowledge that when they come you’ve got this!
3. Plan Yesterday
Always plan your to-do list the night before, and prioritise it. Have no more than three key activities to be completed the next day – these are your green tasks. The next three to five activities are nice to achieve; these are your orange tasks. The remainder should be tasks that are not business critical; these are your pink/red tasks. The colours relate to something I teach called the Traffic Light Formula.
4. Hardest First
Choose the hardest of the three key activities you need to do and do it first. Whatever else happens today, you have completed that task.
5. Chunk it down
When working on big projects chunk them down into one or two key activities that you can do each day. Ensure these tasks get done in between everything else.
6. It’s a marathon not a sprint
Coming back to the energy management conversation from earlier, remember that although people think you have superhuman powers because you can pull rabbits out of hats you are still a human being, and it’s your job to give yourself what you need.
Take regular breaks, eat well, move (get away from your desk or stand up at least once every 30 minutes or on the hour). Make time for yourself every day, it doesn’t have to be long; I teach people how give themselves eight minutes a day.
7. Hard Stop and Reward
It can be tempting to work the same hours as others to show support and commitment to the job, but if your executive trusts that you can manage your workflow and you are on top of your deadlines then the new culture of work is one of productivity over face time.
Make plans with friends, commit to classes, start a hobby and manage your work/life balance.
8. Work/Life Balance
This is as much your responsibility as it is the responsibility of the organisation you work for. Build a relationship with your executive/s and set boundaries for them and yourself.
Someone once asked me how they could manage their executive’s time better. My answer was by managing your own time better. We learn from what we see others doing.
The best way to feel more successful is to self praise!