Regardless if you are an experienced project manager or just starting, managing your time can be challenging. I’ll admit that I’ve gone through thick and thin and sometimes my time management could be improved. It’s very easy to look at everyone else and help them manage their time but managing your own schedule and time does not always come easy to everyone.

I cannot say that I know everything, and my tips are the only ones to manage your time better. What I’m simply trying to do is give you an idea or two that you might have missed or just remind you of the things that you already know. I sometimes need an occasional reminder and this post is the one I would look back to and remind myself.

What I tend to do is overbook my time. This means that I do not leave enough time for transfers in between meetings, I forget about buffers “in case something happens” and I’m always optimistic that I can do everything in time. Most of the time I survive (surviving is the key word here) and by the end of the day I’m exhausted and cannot pinpoint what went wrong.

Staying organized is crucial to running a successful project or even a business. Especially if you are a small business owner, I cannot emphasize enough – you need to stay organized. Now, you should keep in mind, that organization means a lot of different things to different people. There is not a simple and one solution to staying organized and handling things. As a matter of fact, there are several ways.

Here are some of my ways of staying organized and managing my time better:

  • Having a paper calendar and a phone calendar in use

I use both, the traditional calendar as well as a phone calendar. I’ve shared my online calendar with my husband as well and we put all our personal events there as well. It’s important to make sure you are scheduling your personal time as well as vacations, girls’ nights and weekends off are important to you. That’s why I keep myself prepared on all possible platforms, so I don’t miss an appointment or an important task just because my battery died, or I left my calendar at home today.

I have a paper calendar where all the dates are separate on one page, which gives me enough room to make notes and leave reminders. In there, I keep track of all the follow-up emails I need to do as well as reminding myself to go buy a present for the upcoming special day. Writing these down helps me organize the tasks in my brain as well as I can then schedule when things need to be done and, I love hand-written notes! I also have the phone with me with most important reminders to make sure I won’t skip on them. Double-checking has saved me from many possibly horrific mistakes!

  • To-do list at office

One of my most important tools at my desk in my office is my to-do list, which is also on paper. I find it incredibly important to write everything down – all my projects, websites that need to be worked on, people that I need to get in touch with at some point and so on. The list can be overwhelming but at the same time it decreases the risk of me simply ignoring a task. Not all tasks are urgent, but you need to get to them at some point. This way I make sure I won’t forget them.

  • Keeping your email inbox as empty as possible

This is what I learned when working at a stressful hotel environment: keep your inbox as empty as possible only with emails that need action. I managed to miss so many important things when I didn’t write them down because well, they were already in my inbox so how could I miss it and 75 emails later I forgot about it. Now most of inboxes (I have a few accounts…) only have the undone topics and this way whenever I move an email to another folder, I know that it’s done and there is no need to get back to it anymore.

I cannot recommend using color coding with “done” and “undone” or anything like that – it’s only gotten me confused. The only way to keep my mailbox in order is simply removing the emails that do not require my attention anymore.

  • Always leave a buffer between meetings

I’m sure this one is obvious but for some reason I kept ignoring it for a long time. The buffer needs to be at least 15 minutes in between meetings + the transfer time to another location if needed. I suggest a buffer time of 30 minutes because at some point I realized that I also did not have time for my lunch. Also, schedule your lunch if possible.

  • If something can be done now, do it!

I’m the kind of person that sometimes needs time to think. Even though it’s not even a big deal or it’s something simple, I leave the task incomplete because for some reason I want to dwell on it or sleep on it. One day, this pile of undone and simple tasks comes rumbling down and you realize you do not have enough time to do it. If you can do it now, do it now. The more you postpone the task, the harder it will get. Sleeping on it might make it more complicated than it was. Please keep in mind that this only applies to easy tasks – some tasks still require you to process and think about it, so make sure you know how to separate these two.

  • Schedule time for your emails and preparing documents

Do not make your days full of meetings, especially if you have incoming emails all day. I learned this the hard way when we had Thursdays as (hardcore) meeting days from morning until the end of the office day and I was still sitting at the office for the 12th hour simply because at no point during the day I had time for emails. That’s when I realized that some of the meetings needed to be changed to another day because my Fridays were ruined too! I slept bad, I was stressed, and Friday is supposed to be a fun day at the office!

These are some of the reminders I’ve set to myself to remind myself to manage my time better and keeping my life organized. I love when I can leave my office at the end of the day with the feeling that I did everything that needed to be done (out of the urgent things) and knowing that I have scheduled time for myself for other tasks tomorrow.

Need help with you project? Let’s talk – I’d be happy to give you some more pointers as well and discuss time management tips.

Leave a Comment