My Top Ten Time Management Tips (For the Professional Procrastinator)

Hello Again!

Wednesday seems to be my natural day to post, so I'll keep going with it. Edit: Since I finished this late Wednesday, you might be reading this on Thursday!

I polled my Instagram followers yesterday and asked what post they wanted to see next. I offered How to Find a Mentor and Time Management Tips. Time Management won, but no worries I'm already planning the mentor post, as well as an exciting new career profile series that I mentioned in this post back in March!

I'll continue to poll my readers for content ideas, so if you want to take part, make sure you are following Healthcare and Heels on Instagram!

On to the post. Ahhh, Time Management. This is something that everyone strives to perfect, but is easier said than done in the working world. My work day can be compromised of 2-3 meetings, a working lunch with a colleague, office time to work on deadlines, but also emails, calls and people dropping in throughout the day. As a result of these mini distractions and competing priorities, you may look up and realize you have barely accomplished anything on your to-do list!

Back in college and graduate school, I found time management a little easier. You had set deadlines (exams, papers, etc.), you had true cut off dates when semesters would end, and you had way more free time to go to the library and meet said deadlines.

In the working world, deadlines are gray at times and there are less "finish lines" to work toward, which means you have to find ways to stay motivated, organized and on task. Here are the best time management tips I have learned in my past few years of working.

The Pomodoro Technique (Tip #6)

My Top Ten Time Management Tips

  1. Are you a Night Owl or a Morning Lark (Early Bird)? It is important to figure out when you are most productive. As much as I have been trying to shift my internal clock and have earlier starts, I am a night owl at heart which means that I often hit my stride in the late afternoon. 
    • If you are a night owl like me, schedule meetings and time for emails/tasks in the morning and block time to work on projects that need concentration or critical thinking in the late afternoon/evenings. I find my creative juices flow the most at night (which is great for blogging). Conversely, if you are an early bird, make sure you block time each morning to be productive and maximize those first few hours of your day.
  2. Cluster meetings whenever possible. nothing kills my time management and productivity like 3-4 meetings throughout the day with 30-45 minute gaps in between. As I mentioned above, try and cluster your meetings back to back so you can have uninterrupted time to work. I also like to block certain times of the week as well. I try to keep Monday mornings open to write my to-do list for the week and get organized.
  3. Block times on your calendar to complete tasks that you keep putting off. If I have something I am struggling to cross of my to-do list, I put several blocks of time throughout the week to complete this task.
  4. Tackle your most dreaded or "hard" tasks first. It is easy to trick yourself into feeling productive by answering emails or organizing your office, instead of really facing your most daunting task or project. You'll feel better once you just get started!
  5. I have yet to fully figure out how to manage an ongoing to-do list. I utilize a mix of paper to-do lists, sticky notes and online note taking apps like Microsoft OneNote (Evernote is another alternative). I typically keep one long-term or ongoing to-do list in one format and then use a sticky note each day to write out the 2-3 things I must complete.
  6. I have recently discovered a time management technique called the Pomodoro Technique. The concept is essentially splitting up your day into 25 minutes segments of work to complete a stated task and after each 25-minute interval, you allow yourself a short 3-5 minute break. After four 25-minute intervals you get a longer break (to check your phone, read email, etc.). Sounds simple, but when I have a large deliverable these technique really works for me.
    • There are several free apps out there or you can just time yourself with a timer. The app I use is called Focus Keeper.
  7. Set internal deadlines for yourself. In long-term projects, I find that it helps to give yourself a deadline prior to the real deadline to increase your motivation. Even better, tell others when you will have something completed by. Then you have no choice but to complete it!
  8. If you are hitting a road block in your work, try a change of scenery. Sometimes, going to a coffee shop (we have two in our hospital) for an hour to work can refresh your productivity (a caffeine boost doesn't hurt either!)
  9. In college, I discovered instrumental playlists and fell in love. When I really need to focus, I browse the "Focus" mood section of Spotify, which has a variety of instrumental playlists. My favorites are popular songs (Harry Potter, other movie soundtracks, etc.) done as instrumentals. I focus best when listening to this type of music.
  10. Peppermint. Many studies have shown that the smell of peppermint, sucking on a mint or chewing peppermint gum can result in increased alertness. For me, I think it's more of a learned habit. I typically only chew gum at work when I'm trying to focus, so I know when I have some it's time to get down to business.
Those are my top tips! I still have days when I am more focused than others, but utilizing these ten tips will help you maximize your time and reach your goals. Comment down below with your best time management and productivity tips! 
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Comments

  1. I am definitely a procrastinator! I always start with the hard things first as it gives a better sense of achivement! Also I am definitely a morning owl! x

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    1. I wish I was a morning owl! Once I force myself up I am super productive in the mornings.

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  3. Thank you so much for writing this! I already implemented some of these before but I never thought to base my days around whether I'm a night owl or early bird - I always just went with whatever I thought I SHOULD be doing. Love this!

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    1. So true! I often stay at work a little later because I hit a super productive burst at the end of the day.

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  4. I am such a procrastinator! So thank you for this post! =) I am such a night owl so I can relate to you 100% there. I am definitely going to try out your tips!

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    1. So glad you enjoyed it! The tips work if you commit to them ��

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  5. Thank you, I needed these tips as I constantly procrastinate!

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  6. It took me a while, but I have recently become a lot better at being productive simply because I allowed myself to be productive when I knew I was going to be at my best. If I set an alarm at 8am on a weekend, I am going to be exhausted and not get anything done that day. Instead, I sleep in until around 11am, and then I am so refreshed I end up getting most of my set tasks done in that one day!

    I know a lot of people say getting up early is the best way to get things done, but as I live with someone who works nights, it makes sense for me to get up and go to sleep when he does. If that means working on my to-do list until 10-11pm, so be it!

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    1. I love that! Totally agree-I just go with it when I start hitting my stride! Like right now at 10:15 at night?! :)

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