By Lauren Aiken
Time management skills are essential to career growth and satisfaction. Whether your career advancement goals are to advance to a mid-level position, to an upper-level position or to an executive position, the following five tips will help you improve your productivity and establish a game plan for long-term success.
1) Define Your Goals
Setting goals is important in every aspect of life – especially your career. Many individuals who are dissatisfied with their jobs are in that position because they have not yet clearly defined their objectives. Start by asking yourself these questions: What am I passionate about? Do I want to grow with this company? Is money important? What is holding me back from a promotion?
2) Identify and Reinforce Values
Every organization has its own unique set of core values. Know them like the back of your hand, incorporate them into your projects and make it your mission to act as an ambassador for the company whenever you are interacting with clients, coworkers, superiors and outside partners.
3) Expand Your Network
In the workplace, the more experiences the merrier. Expand your knowledge, resources and network by staying on top of industry trends, sharpening your skills and surrounding yourself with people who won’t bring you down. We are often judged by the company we keep, and the solution is simple: If you want to be successful, surround yourself with successful people.
4) Boost Productivity
Everyone and their mother have written a book on productivity these days, so I shouldn’t have to tell you how important it is. Incorporate these proven practices to streamline your daily tasks and eliminate stress so you can focus on bigger goals.
- Eliminate Time Wasters – Establish a routine so you can keep distractions to a minimum. Schedule specific times throughout the day to process e-mails, limit phone calls to ten minutes each when possible and do not, I repeat DO NOT, attempt to complete projects while Web surfing or social networking.
- Plan in Advance – Set aside fifteen minutes each weekend to create a to-do list for the week so you can avoid feeling overwhelmed and under-caffeinated on Monday.
- Utilize Time Management Tools – Looking for an easy button? Luckily there are a variety of online tools to help you manage your time, like Google Calendar and Evernote. Also, don’t underestimate the power of a traditional daily planner. Carry one with you (and actually read it!) every day so you can make schedule adjustments and check off tasks.
- Learn to Say No – Do not commit to tasks that are unnecessary and/or time consuming. Be honest with coworkers who ask for your assistance when you’re already up to your ears in post-its, and delegate or outsource projects whenever possible.
- Focus on Results – You might be a hard worker, but what are you really getting done? Log your activities for a few days to see if all of those daunting tasks are driving you toward the end results and create prioritized to-do lists so you can make the most of every minute.
- Take Breaks – Even the best of us need to take a breather every once in a while. Take a break from your tasks, even if it’s just for a few minutes to stretch, grab a cup of coffee, chat with a coworker, doodle in a notebook or listen to your favorite song. Forcing your brain to switch gears is healthy and often leads to increased energy and fresh ideas.
5) Go With the Flow
In today’s fast-paced economy, it is crucial to continuously grow and advance as an individual and a professional, so you can add value to your position and make yourself indispensable. Make it your mission to seek out opportunities before your boss suggests them to you. Attend training seminars, participate in Webinars, read industry periodicals, and request quarterly meetings with your supervisor to celebrate accomplishments and discuss areas that could use improvement.