Time management is nothing more than the ability to accomplish what you want to do, when you want to do it. Most of us spend half our time wishing for things we could have if we didn’t spend half our time wishing instead of doing.
This is particularly true when looking for a job and especially for new graduates looking for that fist job. Visibility and action are the keys to a successful job search and it all starts with how you manage your time.
“People don’t plan to fail but a lot of people fail to plan” is an old cliché but the biggest fault of most job searches. While you are in school you are basically told what to do and how to do it in order to succeed or pass. Once you are out of school there is no one there to guide you or tell you what to do, hence you can waste valuable time unproductively.
Here are some easy things you can do to help with your time management:
- Plan your day. At the end of the day look at the things you have accomplished and make a list of the things to be done the next day. Don’t look at only your job search activities, be sure to list the personal things in your life as well. Consider them in order of importance not urgency. Try establishing longer range goals and review them regularly.
- Focus. When you are working on any important project, concentrate on what you are doing. Try not to be distracted by unimportant activities and don’t go from task to task without completing any. Stick with the top priorities until they are done.
- Write things down. It is impossible to remember everything and forgetting to do things is a major time waster and can have serious consequences. Use a journal, handheld or tablet to put down your thoughts and ideas regularly. Carry it with you and review it often.
- Prioritize. Doing the job right is not the goal, doing the right job is the goal. Priorities change on a regular basis so if you are not constantly reviewing and evaluating them you will have problems getting anything done.
- Be realistic. It is human nature to underestimate the time for a job. We all want to please people but don’t make a promise that you cannot keep. It is better to be open and honest early than having to make excuses after you are late.
- Avoid procrastination. Procrastination by definition means to defer action or to delay. Nike’s slogan has the right attitude. “Just Do It.” Do it now and you won’t have to remember to do it later. Make simple decisions by flipping a coin.
- Be organized. Don’t believe that a cluttered desk is the sign of a good worker. It’s not! If you are not organized in you work you won’t be organized in your thoughts and mistakes will be made. Be more organized than those you work with and you will eventually be running the show.
- Be on time. Not being punctual is not only rude; it wastes the time of those kept waiting. It is a bad habit that can be cured. If you don’t think it is important enough to arrive at a meeting on time, maybe you are not important enough to be in it. Better still…always arrive ahead of time. It is a lot less stressful on you and shows you are serious about what you are doing and your job.
- Stay healthy. Getting plenty of rest is not just a good idea, it is necessary if you are going to perform well at your job. Avoid fatigue so you can maintain your energy level. Your mind cannot concentrate if you are not rested and healthy.
- Return phone calls. Immediately. If you do so, you don’t have to remember to do it later and you might eliminate a potential problem or better still, you might just open up a new opportunity.
“Important people return phone calls. Self-important people don’t.”…..(Mark Wicken)
- Meet deadlines. Isn’t it interesting that the word “deadlines” has the word dead in it? Probably for a reason. Keep important projects you are working on visible. Also keep deadlines in sight as a reminder.
- Do it early rather that late. If you have a small unpleasant task ahead, clear it off at the start of your day. This way you won’t worry about it or be distracted the rest of your day anticipating doing it.
Time management is a skill… a skill you must and can learn.