Alarm, get ready, run out the door, work, eat, sleep, and repeat. Does it feel like your days are getting shorter? Does time seem to be running by faster? Are you thinking, “How am I able to fit everything I need to do within my day?” I am sure you can relate to these thoughts one way or another. However, even when it feels like you never have enough time, there are steps you can take to plan and find the time to finish what you need to do.
Even when tasks get backlogged and feel overwhelming, managing your work is actually simple. What you need to do is… prepare! Benjamin Franklin once said, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. The more you plan for each project, the more time you have to work, and the less likely things will pile on top of each other. Here a few tips and tricks on how to handle backlog with current deadlines approaching:
4 Tips to How to Manage Your Backlog and Upcoming Deadlines
- Write out a task list
This includes upcoming tasks and backlog work. Physically writing what needs to be done and future deadlines mean things won’t be skipped over. i.e. This can look as simple as the task name and due date or as in-depth as including what is the priority, duration of each task, etc
- Be realistic
Look over what needs to be finished soon and estimate how long they will take, from there you can plan what realistically can be done in a day.
- Create early deadlines
If you discipline yourself to complete every task a day before the deadline, you’ll never have late work if you’re always early!
When we feel overwhelmed with the backlog and new tasks, we can feel isolated. You are not alone! Ask a coworker to help keep you accountable of the tasks you need to do; having another person alongside you will help keep you on track.
Planning also goes hand in hand with time management… a tricky subject for a lot of us.
Time management might be something we have heard many times before but are we actually managing our time or just thinking we are? The Merriam-Webster definition of management is “the act of managing or supervising”. In relation to time, are you really supervising and intentionally looking at the time you have in your day?
There is no time like the present, so it is never too late to start managing your time well. Here are a few tips and tricks that you can do daily or every week to help set you up for success to finish tasks and effectively plan out your work time.
8 Tips and Tricks for Time Management
Look at where you spend most of your time and organize; know yourself—distracted by your phone, family, coffee? Track where your time goes during the day and instead of the 30 minutes on social media, replace it by finishing a task.
Daily, weekly, monthly, personal, and work—you will have more motivation to achieve these goals which will help you stay on track.
Creating and following a task calendar reduces stress—worrying can take up time which makes organization that much more important to prevent stress.
Write out what needs to be done and cross them off as you finish.
Organize your tasks into these categories to simplify:
- Do: Important and urgent
- Defer: Important but not urgent
- Delegate: Urgent but not important
- Delete: Not urgent not important
Create Time Limits
Create a block of time to fully focus and work. Working without breaks can actually be less effective. Set time limits, stand up, hydrate, walk, take a break; these can help you to stay motivated and focused for longer periods of time. For example, work for 50-70 minutes, set 5-10 minute break, repeat.
Swiss Cheese Method
Dubbed by Alan Lakein, this method may sound cheesy but it is effective. Argued to be the most efficient way to work, this process allows you to take your large project and divide it into smaller chunks by planning your project in hour segments and take a 10-minute break in between.
As much as we do not like to admit it, our cellphone can take up a lot of valuable time during the day. Be diligent—set time constraints on apps and place your phone across the room where you are not tempted to reach for it when you are working. Eliminating distractions provides you with more time to focus and does not allow for divided attention.
Hard to find motivation at times? Either through your company or individually, create an incentive at the end of a task or project, like enjoying a cup of coffee or hanging out with coworkers after finishing a large project. This creates a lighter and more fun work environment.
Rewarding employees is also a great way to ramp up and motivate staff members. At Beck Technology, we have Beck Tech Cares, where staff gives a shout-out to other coworkers who have gone above and beyond, and one employee is chosen to receive $100 to put towards a charity of their choice. The whole company thrives off of this and it serves as something to help drive the encouraging culture at Beck Technology.