News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 10, 2013

Business Cents: Are you putting out fires too frequently?

Heather Strohm
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Do you feel like you are overwhelmed constantly? Do you feel you jump from one task to another and miss deadlines? Are you guilty of over promising and under delivering? Every time you turn around, do you feel like you are in the midst of a crisis? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may need to review how you manage your time. Time management is critical not just to employees but also to business owners.

Effective time management has direct benefits. For example, by leveraging your work load correctly, time management can increase productivity and decrease stress levels associated with work. In addition, it can make us happier when we go to work and enjoy those we work with more. Listed below are some helpful tips to help you in managing your time a bit better.

1. Have a “to-do” list. For example, my “to-do” list is arranged by the time of the day. I begin with checking emails, voicemails, etc. Then I move on to client meetings and finally work on reports and other projects that are in the funnel with deadlines looming in the near future. By doing this, projects and reports are submitted either prior to the deadline or on the actual day.

2. Prioritize. My “to-do” list is also a way I prioritize my work load. You should determine the most productive part of your day. For me, I am an early bird and I work best early in the morning up until approximately 4 p.m. This permits me to also focus on important items of my day and how to complete them in the most efficient way.

3. Set goals. It is important to also set personal goals. This will give you something to strive toward and permits you to achieve intrinsic rewards and satisfaction.

4. Manage your distractions and keep them to a minimum. Many of you probably keep an open door policy, which is a great practice. But sometimes it is all right to close your door to finish up an important project.

5. Procrastination and taking on too much can be trouble. First, I would like to say it is all right to say “no” to something and also to delegate projects (as applicable) to your colleagues and employees. This will help limit any procrastination. We all procrastinate, but keep it to a true minimum.

6. Learn “the art of multi-tasking” and take breaks. It is imperative that you understand how to juggle many projects and tasks at one time. That doesn’t mean you have be at the same level of progression in each of them, but don’t wait until the last minute to get started. And finally, take a break. Your brain and your body need to rejuvenate some. Go for a walk. Grab an apple. Just breathe and relax. This will also bring you back with more energy and focus, therefore increasing productivity.

As you can see, time management involves not only these points, but so many more. Each one of us is different, so come up with a combination that is effective for you and your work environment. Good luck!

Heather (Penney) Strohm is the regional director for Indiana State University’s Indiana Small Business Development Center.