How to Better Manage Your Time
      Author:Prerna Sodhi     Source: http://cn.wsj.com     Release Time:5/23/2011 9:35:27 AM     View Times:10958
Do you often find yourself buried under a pile of work and not knowing where to start? Or, are you often rushing to meet deadlines?

Blame poor time-management for that, at least partly.

This is a common problem for many executives and managers, exacerbated by an increasing workload. At crunch time, it makes us jittery about achieving targets on time, which in turn can hurt the quality of our work.
Becoming more organized in your working style can help make for a smoother sail at work.

Plan Ahead: This is an obvious starting point, but the key is to do it consistently, and to keep revising plans as things change. Set both long-term plans as well as a daily list of tasks. Put things on your calendar 'rather than let issues lead the calendar,' says Ongmu Gombu, director human resources at healthcare firm Baxter (India) Pvt. This calendar should list tasks by priority, with the 'most urgent task' ranking at number one, says Mr. Gombu. Planning ahead will help you preempt a task that comes seasonally. For example, executives in the finance department of a company can prepare for routine tasks that come up at the end of the financial year. 'Tick the tasks which you have already completed so you know what remains to be done,' says Meghana Kulkarni, assistant manager of human resources at DesignTech Systems Ltd., an information technology solutions firm.

Prioritize: Once you know what needs to be done, figure out what to do first. If you need help deciding, talk to your boss. Another way of prioritizing tasks is by understanding 'what has more impact on the business' says P.V. Narasimha Rao, head of operations at Prithvi Information Solutions Ltd. An essential part of prioritizing is to finish your work even if you have a comfortable deadline. Starting work at the eleventh hour typically leads to chaos, and often poor quality of work.

Keep your cool and re-prioritize: Often your well-planned and well-prioritized schedule will be thrown haywire by an event outside your control. Don't let this put you totally off track. Keep your cool, because getting nervous and stressed about all that needs to be done will probably paralyze you. Take a few deep breaths, and start with the most urgent task first. If you can't decide on one of two tasks, just pick any by flipping a coin. By doing this, you at least start moving toward your goal rather than wasting time trying to analyze which is the most urgent task, says Mr. Rao.

Get help or delegate: When work comes crashing down and it seems like everything has to be done right away, seek help from your co-workers. This will ease the pressure and help you do a better job. Of course, '[the] majority of the work remains with the one taking help,' says Manish Gupta, human resource head at Lovely Professional University. It's a two-way road, so be ready to help your co-workers in their time of need. Or even better, volunteer to do so when you have time. If you are a manager, groom your team-members and empower them to make decisions so that you can rely on them when needed.

Know your capacity: Sometimes we take on extra assignments to earn brownie points from our managers. While it's a good idea to volunteer for projects, remember not to bite off more than you can chew.

Take up only those projects that you know you can complete without compromising the quality of your usual work. Experts say that quality is the key, not quantity.

If your manager repeatedly assigns you work that is over and above your job requirements, talk to him or her about it. If you passively keep accepting projects without communicating your situation to your supervisors, 'it raises their expectations, which only increases the pressure,' says Russell Rozario, head of human resources at Metropolis Healthcare Ltd. in Mumbai.

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