If you're anything like me, your mornings start with a laundry list of to-dos. These lists are not only daunting but often, they leave us feeling discouraged if not completed at the end of the day.
Is this a hopeless battle? Absolutely not. With the wonderful instruction of Jessica Jacobs - artist, designer, entrepreneur and Columbia College professor extraordinaire - a group of Forth women participated in a project management workshop and today, I'd like to share some of my personal takeaways.
The following tips and tricks are some of my favorite, and thus far most successful, methods I've adopted since the workshop. Some may work for you; some may not. Either way, I feel our community can benefit from sharing insight on how to manage time, projects and our sanity. After all, this community did not become a group of #girlbosses overnight.
My first big takeaway was Jessica's project management plan, or as I like to refer to it - your project's purpose... plan. Every task has a purpose. The question is, is said task something that's going to benefit the larger project, company or even your mood?
Evaluate the task at hand by asking yourself:
- What is this project's purpose?
- Who is it for? What do they want?
- Why are you doing this?
To break it down further, you can ask yourself:
- What is the finished product/service/deliverable for this project? And ultimately...
- Does this (project) fit into a larger goal? If so, how? If not, is it still important/worth your time?
Taking a few minutes to evaluate your project(s) will help you prioritize what needs to get done to move the larger project (and your career) forward, and what is potentially a waste of energy and time.
The next tip I've adopted involves assigning a time to each daily task. Do you start your day answering emails? Give that task a specific amount of time to complete. Be realistic but discerning with this assignment. Setting a time has helped me recognize when I've put too many items on my list (a common occurrence) as well as when I have more time than previously thought.
With that said, we all know there are a number of outside factors that impact our schedules in unexpected ways - extended meetings, a sick child, that quick trip to the bathroom that turned into a catch-up session with a co-worker. Those instances are impossible to predict and hard to avoid. What you CAN avoid is unnecessary distractions (hello, social media!). If you have 60 minutes to complete a task, close Facebook, sign out of Gmail, turn off your phone - do whatever you have to do to get your sh*t done.
And lastly, my favorite tip I learned was to recognize when and where you do your best work. If you're a mid-afternoon or night owl kind of gal (or guy), plan your most intensive work for that time block. That seems like common knowledge but I'll admit, I was not structuring my day according to that concept. I'm a morning person and I tend to wake up with my mind reeling and ready to go. Yet, what do I do with my mornings? Answer emails and complete menial tasks. Why? Because it's the morning (!) and I have all day to finish items #4-100, right?!
I've started structuring my mornings with creative tasks because (:ding:) that's when I do my best work. Answering an email at 9:00am vs. 1:00pm probably isn't going to make a huge difference to the recipient so why not leave it for the afternoon. Know when you work best -- and plan for your best work.
Do you have helpful tips you'd like to share? Interested in learning more from our community? Let us know!
For more Forth insight, read any of the following posts for great advice from great women: 3 ways to ask for advice and take action, by Forth founder Lisa Guillot, 5 things you must do to step your business game up, legally by Patrice Perkins, Natalie Pavela's story about her bold career move and crowdfunding myths debunked by Sarah Burrows.