Is it just me or do you ever find yourself with more on your to-do list than there is time in the day? Back to school time in the Financial Aid Office is definitely one of those times when you can feel like your to-do list feels more like a “no-time for” list.
When I start looking at my work, my calendar, and to-do list, I have a few tips and tricks that help me get back on track and give me a little bit more time in my day.
Eliminate Time Wasters
Have you ever left a meeting thinking “that could have been an email!”? It’s so frustrating and a huge time waster for everyone. Something that often works for me is seeing if any meeting invites can be solved via email instead. Another trick that helps me gain some time back in my day is looking over recurring meetings that have lost their value. If you aren’t finding value in the meeting, I would bet most people attending that meeting feel the same. Have the courage in the next meeting to suggest a different format or even cancel the meeting altogether. Meetings can be one of the biggest distractions from work productivity.
Finding Uninterrupted Time: Power Hour
I hope you have the problem we have in our office—we all really like each other—and we all like to help each other. This is an awesome problem to have. You may think to yourself, why is this a problem? It only becomes a problem when it causes you to get distracted from your work because you are too busy helping somebody else or just enjoying your time catching up with some of your favorite co-workers. To help combat this turning into a problem, we implemented a “Power Hour.” Every day from 2 pm-3 pm, we have focused time with no distractions: no meetings, no talking, no interruptions. It’s amazing what can be accomplished during one hour of focused time with no distractions.
Your Team is Here for You
We're all friends here right? So I feel like I can admit—I can be a bit of a control freak with some things. But at the same time, I don’t like to feel like I am overworking my team. This leaves me taking on too much and not giving others the opportunity to help me. I have to remind myself that’s what my team is here for—to help get the work done—and that means I need to ask for help and offload some of my tasks to them. If you have an awesome team like me, they are happy to help and want to help, we just have to ask. I encourage you to look through your to-do list and pick a few things that you can give to somebody else to complete.
If you don’t suffer from this—good for you! I always joke that I work better under pressure, not sure if that is true or not, but it’s probably because of my procrastination issue! I always hit my deadlines and I do what I say I am going to do, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a professional procrastinator. I know when I start doing it, (like just before I opened my laptop to write this) so the trick I use to force myself out of my procrastination is by telling myself to just work on it for 5 minutes—normally this ends up causing me to just finish the task because once I start it, I want to finish it. I know this mental game might not make sense to those of you who don’t suffer from professional procrastination, but for those of us that do, you feel me!
I want to end this by thanking all of you for the lives you are changing – the work you do helps students start, continue, and finish their educational dreams. I believe deeply in the power of education, it changed my life! Thank you for your never-ending to-do list that is changing the lives of so many—hopefully one of my tips will give you some time back in your day to focus on the most important tasks.
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