Anyone who’s worked at an agency before is well aware of how fast-paced and volatile these work environments can be. We can have our whole day or week planned out, yet everything can change within a split second. That said, knowing how to manage your time wisely can help you stay on top of everything even when it can get a little chaotic. Here are 4 tips that you can start applying to level up your time management skills.
1. Be flexible when scheduling your time ⏱
Whenever I block out time to work on something, I try to leave a buffer based on what my schedule allows and aim to complete the work 1-2 days for example before the due date. This helps me account for any potential setbacks that may come up during the project. I also plan to start on something as soon as I’m able to, which might be a no-brainer when it comes to time management, but hey... a reminder never hurts! In addition, I always try to block out extra time for anything that I am working on for the first time. Though accounting for extra time may not be an option for most busy schedules, trying to do this can help you better manage those unanticipated roadblocks that often come up when working in an agency.
2. Create time blocks on a calendar or planner 🗓
This includes carving out time blocks for meetings, deliverables, tasks, you name it. Anything you plan on spending time on during the workday should be blocked out on your calendar. This tip also touches on another great practice for time management - which is establishing a set amount of time to work on something. Being able to visualize all the work you have planned for the week can give you a better idea of the bandwidth you have so that you can be realistic with how you offer your time. I am a big fan of using Google Calendar when blocking out my work time because I can see my week planned out hour-by-hour. I also get desktop notifications (usually comes through 10 minutes before the next event on my calendar) that help me stay accountable when it comes to completing a task or deliverable within the time block that I set.
3. Be mindful about how you block out your time 🤔
Knowing how much energy or effort that something you’re working on requires is key for doing this right. Do you really want to work on a high-level analysis right after doing reporting for 4 hours? Probably not. A better way to schedule your day might be to work on 1-2 items that require a great deal of focus and effort, then spend the time in between working on tasks you can easily knock out. Think about what you can realistically accomplish within a day or week and plan accordingly from there.
4. Tackle what you’re working on based on priority, then effort ✅
This is probably my favorite time management tip because mastering the art of prioritization can help ensure that you work as efficiently as possible. When thinking about how to prioritize what you’re working on, keep the following questions in mind:
- Is this due to the client soon?
- Is this something that is important to the client?
- Will this have an impact on the client’s bottom line?
When thinking about effort, consider these questions:
- Is this something that will take me more than an hour to complete?
- Does this require a lot of focus and effort, or is it an easy lift (i.e. it can get done in less than half an hour)?
Depending on how you answer those questions, that will determine how you should tackle the work you have going on. Typically, I use deadlines to best inform how I should prioritize. However, not everything will have a deadline and that’s when I’ll use my best judgment in thinking about how this task or deliverable that I work on will impact a client’s business for the better. Considering the effort required is also important because this can help you better anticipate what you’ll need to provide for that task or deliverable.
Start Managing Your Time Better
Time management is a valuable skill to have and investing your efforts into truly mastering it will only help make things easier for you in the long run. Now that you have 4 tips that you can readily apply to your workflow, start making changes that will help you become a time management expert!
Got a great time management tip in mind that’s not mentioned here? Comment below and let’s keep sharing the knowledge!