By Brittany Rhodenhiser
Senior Director of Account Strategy
As pandemic restrictions continue to ease, now is a great moment to assess your ways of working and adopt new practices. No matter if you’re on-site, working remotely, or navigating a hybrid schedule, there’s one commodity I’m sure we all feel we could use more of—time.
The fact is, time management is the foundation of your daily work life. All other skills and practices depend on your ability to successfully use your time. The good news is that there are easy-to-adopt practices that can help you save time—and better use the time you have. Best of all, they won’t take too much of your time to implement!
Develop a self-assessment practice
Time management is highly individual. No uniform set of practices works for everyone. That’s why it’s important to begin by conducting a self-assessment—and then repeating this process as your schedule, goals, and priorities evolve. Though you may develop additional questions, I recommend you always ask yourself the following:
- When am I most productive?
We all know “morning people” as well as those who gain momentum late in the day. When are you at your best? Use this insight about yourself to guide your schedule. When possible, plan to tackle difficult projects when you know you’ll have the most focus and energy. Understand that your answer to this question may change over time, and adapt your plans accordingly.
- What most keeps me from using my time well?
What is the #1 “time suck” in your day: email, disruptive phone calls, good old-fashioned procrastination? Whatever it may be, identifying the problem is the first step to finding a solution. Hopefully, each time you return to this question, you’ll find that your answer changes as you improve your time management skills.
- What are my priorities?
Continually ask yourself this question, especially at the start of each day. Unless you rank your tasks, it’s easy to default to completing them on a first-come, first-served basis. This is highly inefficient. A project due three weeks down the road may arrive early in your inbox, but it shouldn’t take precedence over more immediate tasks.
- Where do I fit in the flow of work?
If you work as part of a team, know how your efforts fit into the overall project. Understanding the big picture will help you prioritize your portion and best facilitate the team’s overall time management. Note that, even when your team remains the same, your answer to this question will change with each project.
Use tech to your advantage
There are many technologies that can help you better manage your day. Some of these may be features of programs you currently use. Consider the following as you work to improve your time management:
- Personal scheduling software
Use your calendar program—such as the ones available through Outlook or Gmail—to plan your day. The alerts and other notifications offered by such programs can help keep you on track.
- Email scheduling
Your email program likely allows you to set the time your message will be sent. If you’re working late in the day or after hours, scheduling an email to be delivered first thing the following morning can help ensure it’s seen.
- Silencing notifications
Are you a person, like me, who feels the need to respond to incoming texts and chat notifications right away? If so, enable the silencing feature on your texts and chats to help protect blocks of time when you need to focus without distractions.
- Project management software
Having access to reliable project management software is absolutely essential to my role. At Encompass, we use Workzone, but there are many great options out there that can help your team manage priorities and keep track of the flow of work.
No matter how you work to improve your time management process, recognize that you’ll need to spend some time up front to save much more time in the long run. Take it from me—it’s definitely worth the investment!
Brittany Rhodenhiser brings to Encompass more than 10 years of project management experience in the life sciences and healthcare industries. As senior director of account strategy, she leads our project management division in fostering enduring, productive partnerships with our clients. Brittany holds a degree in business marketing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Outside of Encompass, she enjoys spending time with her husband and sons and is an avid volunteer in her community.