Written by Katie Norton, an AmeriCorps VISTA serving at Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services
As I’m sitting here trying to write this post, I keep getting distracted by other tasks on my to-do list. Oftentimes when I have a long list of things to accomplish, it can be hard to know where to start. Time management is something that I have been working to improve on, but I still struggle sometimes. I wanted to share a few things that I’ve found helpful so far.
It may seem simple, but ranking tasks in order of importance can be really helpful. That way you know what needs to get done right away and what can wait a little longer. You should focus on the most important tasks first, and then move on to the less urgent items. I also find it helpful to make daily, weekly, and monthly lists to make sure nothing is forgotten. The daily lists should be shorter and only contain the essential items that must be completed that day, so that they are less overwhelming.
We also all have a time of day that we are most productive, whether it is in the morning or afternoon. When do you have the most energy? Or the fewest interruptions? This is when you should focus on getting your more difficult tasks done and save the easier things for when you might be more tired. Everyone is different, so figure out what works best for you.
At my organization, most projects involve multiple people. At times, this can make it harder to manage time because the steps depend on other people’s timelines and availability. I’ve found that it’s important to communicate your progress with your coworkers, even if you’re behind, so they know where you’re at. It also helps to make sure individual responsibilities are clear ahead of time, so that everyone knows what is expected of them.
Finally, be realistic about time goals. If there is too much on your plate, and you know that you won’t be able to finish something by the deadline, let your supervisor know. The more that we are able to manage our time, the less stressed and more productive we’ll be. Take breaks to let your brain recharge and reward yourself for your accomplishments!