Can’t manage your time because your schedule and workload are beyond your control? Well, there’s still one big time-management tip you can try.
Tips for better managing your time on the job abound throughout the internet and elsewhere. Avoiding meetings, delegating more, batching tasks, learning to say no, and prioritizing the critical over the merely important are some of the most popular ideas. Indeed, they can be useful for many people.
But what if your particular job doesn’t afford you that much autonomy? A lot of us simply do not have the option to delegate duties, we can’t just say no to meetings (or anything else), and we have little control over scheduling and prioritizing our workloads. We can’t “focus on one job at a time” or “do the important tasks first thing in the morning.” And we can only fantasize about being able to filter out emails or turn off those annoying computer pings.
Because, unfortunately, the demands of our jobs, bosses or even co-workers just won’t let us. We have the kind of work where schedule and workload are beyond our control.
Is this you? Do you think that if only you had more hours in the day, you could get a handle on things and your life wouldn’t be so stressful?
Well, you can’t increase the number of hours in the day. However, you probably do possess the wherewithal to implement this one simple-seeming but powerful time management tip:
Declutter your workspace.
Organizing and getting rid of “stuff” is very popular right now, and for good reason. A clean, orderly environment is a huge stress-reducer. Even more important, it saves time. When everything is in its place we can find it more easily and quickly. If someone asks you for a file or a tool, you know right away if you have it or not and can dispatch that person immediately.
An organized workspace also makes you look good. It creates an atmosphere of professionalism, mastery and control that will impress everyone who sees it (this includes managers, co-workers and customers). Perhaps even more important, you’ll feel better about yourself, too.
Organizing, discarding, cleaning, storing, systematizing and streamlining will cost you some extra hours at first — these hours may even have to be unpaid — but in the long run, you will save untold amounts of not only time but energy, both mental and physical. Start today.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use and of the novel “The Paris Effect.” Email her at email@example.com.