If you’re in an entry-level position and you hope to move up into a leadership role, how do you show your boss you’re using your time well?
Moreover, how do you leave work at work at the end of the day? And are time management skills really necessary in these types of jobs?
I had the privilege of chatting with Nichole Harrop on the Future Female Leaders Podcast to discuss the answers to these questions, and so many more! Listen to the full episode here.
What Jobs Require Time Management
Here’s the thing: every job requires some kind of time management.
The average American knowledge worker – meaning, anyone who works behind a laptop – takes 90 minutes to process all of the new inputs they receive each day.
That’s emails, Slack messages, memos, and so on. 90 minutes JUST to process! That doesn’t even count actually responding to them, following up, or updating files.
Additionally, when we schedule something on our calendars, it takes an average of 30 minutes to complete the administrative tasks associated with that meeting – tasks like scheduling back and forth, planning, and creating an agenda. Everything takes time.
And if you’re not equipped with basic time management skills, you’re liable to spend all day in your email and wonder where all of your time went when 5 o’clock rolls around.
Tracking Your Time
Leaders and bosses want to see productivity. But in the drive for productivity, they might miss all the time and effort you’re actually spending on tasks – like processing information or preparing for meetings. So what’s the best way to communicate how you’re spending your time?
I have two methods:
- Put time blocks on your calendar. Label them “meeting preparation,” “agenda creation,” or whatever tasks you need to complete. When you do this, you’re setting an expectation that you’ll use that time to complete those tasks, AND you’re creating a realistic to-do list for your day. If your boss has access to your calendar (which many do), they’re able to see you being proactive!
- Have a regular, recurring one-on-one meeting with your supervisor. It doesn’t have to be weekly, but it could be biweekly. This creates a dedicated space for you to have conversations about how you’re spending your time. Yes, you could just send an email; but having a face-to-face dialogue is much more valuable.
Workday Shutdown Routine
Finally, if you’re putting in extra hours and eyeing a promotion, it’s important that you learn to leave work AT work so you can avoid burnout.
If I could go back and tell freshly graduated Executive Assistant Anna about one thing, it would be to incorporate a workday shutdown routine.
A workday shutdown routine is a short and simple series of steps you perform at the end of each day that help you mentally shut down before you leave the office and move into your personal life.
Why would we need this? There’s this phenomenon called the Zeigarnik Effect that says our brains have a preference for unfinished things. How many times have you laid in bed at night thinking about the things you have to do tomorrow at work or what you have to add to your grocery list? That’s the Zeigarnik Effect!
Because we know about the Zeigarnik Effect, we can learn how to trick our brains into thinking we’ve finished a task and closed a loop – even if there are projects we haven’t finished yet.
A shutdown routine might look like:
- Answering any unread emails from the day
- Review your to-do list
- Decide which tasks you can do in the next 15 minutes, and which ones need to be moved to tomorrow
- Close your laptop and leave your desk
Remember Mr. Rogers? He had a fantastic workday shutdown routine. He would come in from the neighborhood, then put on his cardigan. He’d take off his outside shoes, and put on his inside shoes.
I would encourage you to think through: What’s my Mr. Rogers routine that will help me transition from work brain to home brain? That’s what’s going to allow you to be present at home in the evenings, even when you have a lot going on at work.
Want more? Listen to the full episode here, or find out more about Future Female Leaders here.
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