Time management is essential in achieving your goals and getting your work done. With time management comes organizing, planning, and prioritizing, but why would the interviewer ask about this? The company is interested in how well you manage your time because they want to see if you do your work in an organized way, they want to know your strategies for completing a given task in a short span of time, and they want to determine what your priorities are.
Prioritizing your work is not that easy. You have to identify which things need to be done first. It is a crucial process, but once you get used to it, organizing and planning will be less difficult. If you know how to effectively organize and prioritize your workload, you will learn how to be more efficient and productive.
How do you organize and plan your work? What are your priorities? There is no right or wrong way to answer these questions. The way you do things is ultimately up to you. People are different, so what works for you may not work for someone else. Still, there are some guidelines that can help you in prioritizing your work and answering questions about your time management skills.
1. Make your to-do list.
Listing on paper what you want to accomplish for the day is an effective way to remember the things you need to do. It can be a weekly to-do list, but daily ones are more effective. Write your list on a notepad, starting with the important tasks and then adding the less important ones.
2. Rank your to-do list.
After writing your tasks on a notepad, rank them from the most important to the least. Rewrite your list on another page, and make sure that your handwriting is legible. Tip: usually, bigger fonts can motivate you to complete the task more than small fonts.
3. Post your to-do list.
Put your to-do list somewhere you can always see it: on your planner, wallet, cell phone (type it in your memo), or on the board in your office. If you always see the list, you’ll never forget that you have something to do.
4. Note your responsibilities.
Type or write in bullet points some notes about your reminder. For example, you can write the exact time where you have to finish the task, materials that you need for the task, or the name of the person that you’re about to meet (if the task is a meeting). Notes are especially important for people who forget things easily.
5. Avoid unnecessary tasks.
When you’re done writing your to-do list for the day/week, try to analyze the less important task/s in terms of whether you really need to do it/them. If so, then you may need to adjust your schedule for the day; if not, then you can allocate more time for the other tasks or you can just take that opportunity to rest.
6. Set realistic deadlines.
When you’re working on something and a deadline was set by your boss, set your own deadline ahead of the deadline that your boss gave you. However, set realistic ones. Don’t try to rush yourself just to finish it earlier. Take everything one step at a time.
This is also applicable for your everyday work. Don’t overwhelm yourself. You don’t want to force yourself to finish something and then suffer the consequences of creating poor-quality work.
7. Set your break time.
Working all day with no break is no fun. If you’re already tired, take a break. There’s nothing wrong with a 10- to 15-minute food break or a quick nap. Drink coffee when you need or want to. Stretch when your body feels cramped. A rule of thumb: rest for ten minutes after every hour of work.
8. Put away distractions.
In this modern world, a lot of things can distract us from doing our work. These include camera phones, mobile devices, gadgets, the World Wide Web (especially Facebook and Twitter), and many more. How are you supposed to finish your work if you spend your time on these things?
Put away the things that distract you. Don’t check your inbox every minute; you can do this during your breaks from work. Once you learn to pay less attention to these things, getting the job done will be much easier.
The key to productivity is good time management. Prioritizing is difficult but is also essential if you want to get things done. Aside from being more efficient and productive, it will also help you alleviate stress in your life. Learning how to prioritize is not an impossible task; you just have to determine what needs to be done and how much time you need to do it.