Time Management 101: How to Handle Competing Priorities

Are you struggling to keep up at work? Here are some time management tips for staying calm and focused when faced with competing demands in office support jobs.

Your assignment requires you to support three busy executives. Each has given you a project that must be completed by 9 a.m. on Monday. You want to do a good job, but how can you effectively prioritize at work so that it all gets done, done right and done on time? These three time management tips will help you with your workload:

1. Communicate

Discuss details and deadlines with managers to come up with a workable situation that satisfies everyone.

By asking questions, you may discover one manager only needs a report summary for a 10 a.m. conference call, not the full report. Learn how to effectively communicate with each boss so you can get a better understanding of individual goals.

Get communication tips to help you convey what you mean effectively and with confidence.

2. Create a timeline

Having a timeline and regularly informing each manager of your progress reduces scheduling conflicts. Often your bosses are not fully aware of the amount of time a project will take to complete. Does it require that you stay late? Come in over the weekend? Will it involve members from other departments or tech support? Effective time management means letting your managers know if project demands are not in line with what was shared at the beginning.

If it looks like you may not finish a project on time, don’t wait until it’s too late fix the problem. Let your supervisors know as soon as you become aware you may not make the deadline so there’s time to find a solution.

Check out these helpful tips for prioritizing projects when your hair is on fire.

3. Get help

If you’re struggling with time management when you have to manage competing priorities, reach out to your coworkers and see if another admin is available to help out. You may also want to create a shared document folder that lists all of your projects and lets everyone know exactly what you’re working on. If you go this route, make sure you aren’t violating any confidentiality issues.

These three tips apply to all office support jobs, so regardless of your role, following them will help you perform better.

One word of caution, though: You don’t want to be the person who’s always asking for help but is never available when someone else needs support. Whenever possible, offer to assist with future projects. Your coworkers also have to deal with time management issues, so lending a hand when you can shows that you understand what they're facing and are grateful for those times they pitch in to help you.

If these time management tips don't help you handle competing priorities, it may be time to move on. Use the OfficeTeam jobs database to search for open office support jobs and other new job opportunities.