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Ten Simple Tips For Managing Your Time (in Stressful Times)
By Patricia Yevics
Director, Law Office Management
Maryland State Bar Association, Inc.
We are entering what is commonly considered to be a very stressful and time grabbing season. There are the Thanksgiving holidays, all the December celebrations and year-end preparations.
It is possible to get through busy and stressful times and be productive and relatively calm and happy. I would be delusional to suggest that there will be no stress or no frayed nerves but with a little effort, it is possible to come through busy times with a minimum amount of aggravation. Hopefully some of these tips will help.
Although it is not always possible to control your time because we are in a service business and deal with other people's problems, there are steps that you can take to control your own time and tasks.
1. Do not over promise. If you find that you cannot meet a deadline or deliver on a promise, call immediately. Let the client or person know when you can complete the project and then get it done on time. Most people will not care because you were honest.
2. Write down everything so you do not have to remember. I have a notebook on my desk and I write down every request that people make. When I complete the task, I cross it off.
3. Before you leave the office each day, make a few notes on what you need to do when you return the next day. I also use Outlook and when I turn on my computer, there is a list of all the items I have listed for that day. I use Outlook's Tasks quite extensively to remind me when things need to be done. I usually put in a reminder a few days before something is due.
4. Keep your own daily, weekly and yearly calendar. Know what projects you have coming up so that you do not overbook. I use a very large 2 year calendar on my wall at the office and at home and I write everything on it so that I know what big and small projects, meetings, social events I have so that I do not double book.
5. When you get a new case/project/task do something on it no matter how small - begin anywhere - just do something. Even if the deadline for the project is far off, it is help to do something on it. You can put the project away until you are ready to continue working on it. When you are ready to spend more time on it, you will be "completing" the project and not "starting" it. Ed Note: Try this one. It has worked for me.
6. If project is a large one, make a to-do list for that project and manage the tasks separately. This will also allow you to delegate some of the tasks of the project.
7. Accept the fact that is perfectly acceptable to say "NO". While you may not be able to do that with clients, you may have to do that with outside activities. You may have to cut back on some. You may have to evaluate some of the work you are doing for some clients and determine whether or not you want to continue doing work for a particular client. The work may not be profitable or the client may be more stressful than profitable.
8. Everyday, complete one (or two) non-urgent, but important tasks. This will help you whittle down your to-do list and you will feel much better.
9. When you find yourself falling behind reading publications, try to read one each day or every other day to try to catch up. This way you will not feel overwhelmed when you see your "reading pile". It does not take too long to catch up.
10. When possible, adjust your schedule to your energy level. Save your most important tasks for when you are at your peak.
Have a good holiday season. Find the time to enjoy it.