At my last appraisal, I had raised the point that I wanted and needed to work on my time management skills. I agreed to attend an ‘Effective Time Management’ course at the Truro Business Space in conjunction with Cornwall College to help me improve.
Time management is a part of day-to-day life that plagues most of us; yet, it’s an essential skill for keeping your head above water, especially in an office environment. As a graphic designer working in a studio with a vast number of projects and clients, it’s easy to get bogged under if you don’t structure your time accordingly.
I wanted to gain a better understanding of how a structure can help you with your days. More importantly, I wanted to feel like I had control over hectic situations. Before attending the course I had already implemented ‘to-do’ lists but I felt that this wasn’t as effective as it could be. Below are the three main points that stood out for me from the course that I didn’t already have some sort of understanding of. These points have really helped me with how I plan my days and if you’re struggling with an overload or a ‘snowball’ of work, heed these words:
Before I used this technique I used to write everything down, regardless of what it was, into a big long list. While this identified the things I had to do, it just made my head hurt. On busy days a page full of writing with no actual structure to it is as helpful to me as not actually having a list at all. Instead I now split my lists into 4 categories; Design, admin/calls, notes (studio) and notes (misc). This helps me identify the different areas of my day and it gives each section a hierarchy of priority.
I also segregate my notes regarding any overtime or holiday separately on digital sticky notes on my computer. When I have to hand over my hours is easier to copy and paste an archive of your time than it is to scroll through your timesheets for the last month recollecting the extra minutes you spent or the days that you were off.
We all learn differently. I’m a visual learner. I find that I can remember things and take in information much better if I use some form of colour. As you can see from the photograph below, even if its only using one colour, it helps differentiate jobs that have been completed from those that I have left to do.
The same can be said for using a shape system. If, like me, you like to have some form of visual indicator to help to check off tasks or help them stand out, then why not use a linear shape to signify an important task to do, and then block this in when the task is complete?
Ever heard the old saying that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that it’s probably the worst thing you’ll do all day? No? Well ‘eat the frog’ is a metaphor for tackling the most challenging task of your day. Get the tasks you least want to do out of the way first.
If you take anything away from this blog, just remember: