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Time Management at Work

How to reduce your work overload



Overworked and overwhelmed and maybe under paid. Do you sometimes feel one or all of these at your work? Time Management at Work is becoming more critical everyday. It seems people are expected to do more, get better results, but have less resources and budgets. And somehow we are meant to have some work-life balance.

We have found most people can significantly improve their time management at work. The same core principles apply to getting control of time regardless of whether you are at work or for life in general (check out our Time Management Skills Page for the 4 core skills). There are though some very specific aspects to time management at work that can make your life less overwhelming and more fulfilling.

There are many aspects to getting control of time at work. We will start here with five key strategies that have had the biggest impact for our clients. These are:

  1. Agree on and document with your manager your performance measures and targets

  2. Decide what key activities will get you to these targets and do them

  3. Say no to tasks that have little impact on your targets

  4. Reduce the time taken by interruptions

  5. Get really clear about what is the next action


There are many more strategies that will improve your time management at work and we will be writing about these in the future. If you are in sales or if you manage people come back soon to see our suggestions for you.

Let's look at strategy number 3 in more detail.


3. Say NO to tasks that have little impact on your targets 


This is a major reason why people have poor time management at work (and maybe at home too!). The inability to say NO. It is very rare to find people with the ability to politely and firmly say NO (I believe this requires a high level of emotional intelligence). There are many valid reasons for people not wanting to say NO. Unfortunately, saying yes all the time leads to poor time management at work and more work and more stress.

In our coaching programs we "peel back the layers" to help you get really clear about what stops you from saying NO. We can't give you the 1:1, in-depth coaching on this website, but we can share with you some ways our clients have been able to start saying no. Over hundreds of hours of coaching and workshops we have noticed that there are usually three factors that contribute to people being unable to say no. They are:
- Not knowing when they physically cannot fit any more work in their day/week
- Not knowing if the requested task is less important than other tasks they have committed to
- Saying no conflicts with their values or beliefs

In short, the first two points are saying that you need to know what to say to and why you would say no. The third point is more complex and requires some personal exploration about values and beliefs. I suggest you address the first two and you might find that can say no often enough to give you a significant improvement on your time management at work.

One more tip here to help you say no - well in fact say no without actually saying no! Most of our clients find that they prefer to use a short phrase that means no with out using the word no. Some examples are:
"Unfortunately with the other important projects I have on I would not be able to get that done on time"
"I wouldn't be able to start that for 2 weeks, is that OK?"
"Could you put that in writing, including the due date and key outcomes and I will review it with my boss"
and if your boss is asking
"My time is fully booked. I'd be happy to do this when you let me know which other tasks don't need to be done or can be delayed"

Saying NO is about being able to keep commitments, to other people and to yourself. Keeping commitments is a key aspect of trust. Saying no builds more trust that saying yes when you can't get it done (either in time or quality).




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