In our technology-driven society, IT pros may well be among the busiest folks out there – across the board and at all levels. If the strength of the IT hiring environment is any indicator, there’s too much to do and not enough people to do it. That’s why time management is so crucial as IT pros try to manage and prioritize their workload.
Here are some time management tips for IT professionals to make you more efficient and productive and to put you on track to get stuff done.
Set daily goals.
To help you structure and prioritize your day, give yourself daily goals, but divide them into two categories: realistic and stretch. Setting a realistic goal that you are certain is do-able will help you maintain some consistency as time goes on and, at the very least, give you a sense of accomplishment. A stretch goal is more ambitious, something to shoot for. Of course, you may not know how things will pan out as the day progresses. Build in the unforeseeables as best as possible, but don’t beat yourself up if they prevent you from meeting your daily goal.
Write it down.
Studies show that writing things down helps you remember them better than if you typed them. So, if high-tech hasn’t helped you manage your time, try pen and paper or a dry-erase board. Either way, hand-write what you need to do (don’t forget to include your deadlines) and put your list and other go-to print-outs on a copyholder so that they’re visible – making you always mindful of what’s on your plate – and easily grabbable.
Can’t justify buying that high-tech drone you saw online? Use that as a mental bargaining chip. If you meet your goals for, say, an entire quarter, reward yourself with something you wouldn’t ordinarily buy for yourself. Long-term, this might help you get to the light at the end of the tunnel.
Document common processes.
Documenting common processes might require more time up-front, but will be a huge time-saver in the long run. For Tech Support teams, this might be especially valuable. For the most common processes, procedures or troubleshooting, jot down step-by-step instructions and save it as a document that you can forward to people as needed. For instance, maybe one of the HR admins can’t open email attachments. Forward the appropriate troubleshooting document as a first-attempt. Even if it doesn’t work, at least you can eliminate it and move on to a more complex, individualized solution.
Eliminate distractions and give yourself some breathing room.
When you’re stumped on a particular problem or challenge, walk away before you become frustrated or stressed out and revisit it the next day. How is that a time management tip? If you spend hours on one problem – and you’re still nowhere near a solution – not only are you mentally drained and possibly grumpy, but you just wasted that time you could’ve spent on other to-do items. Coming back to the initial problem with a clear head could lead you to a better solution than if you wracked your brain for hours – and you’ll have spent your time in the wisest way possible.
Technology offers a plethora of options for time management. From apps like Evernote and Toggl to smartwatches like the Moto 360 or the Apple Watch (coming in March 2015) to web-based software like Basecamp or Dropbox, the options are endless. It’s just a matter of finding something that meets your needs and you’ll use and stick with.
Wear a wristwatch.
If a high-tech smartwatch isn’t your thing, try a low-tech wristwatch. “But,” you argue, “I use my smartphone to tell time.” That’s fine, but looking at your phone requires at least one hand. If you’re always on your feet and your hands are usually full, getting your smartphone out of your back pocket may not be as easy as turning your wrist to keep track of the time.
Some of these time management tips for IT professionals aren’t necessarily quick fixes, but are more like long-term habit adjustments. Ultimately, you want to develop a mindset that will encourage you to manage your time wisely – and that starts with behavioral shifts. Yes, easier said than done – but definitely do-able.
Related article: 5 Ways IT Staffing Agencies Can Help You Save Time and Money