At first glance, accomplishing a task at work, and on time at that, might seem pretty intimidating. But don't worry, there's hope! Here are five tips to help you fulfill your job responsibilities on time, and with a smile:
- It all starts with a positive attitude. Being intimidated by your task simply adds to the burden of the job itself. Also, being tense does not help you accomplish things at all. Choose to stay positive and relaxed at work. It enables you to be more clear-minded and frees up your mind to focus on tasks at hand. How to help you do this? Surround yourself with things that make you feel good: pictures of your family members, mementos of previous vacation spots where you experienced good memories, things that remind you of your goals (picture of the house you're planning to buy for your family, etc). Remind yourself that the task you're facing is not all that you are. It's something you do to fulfill greater meaning and purpose.
Also, it's good to keep yourself fit and healthy, and to engage in after-work activities that you really enjoy and thrive in. The natural high these habits give you translate into your workplace frame of mind.
- Use a calendar or any other planner that you're comfortable with. It's good, though, to have one monthly calendar and one daily "to do" list. The calendar enables you to get a birds' eye view on the month's deadlines and activities (and how many days you've got to prepare for it), while the daily list is like a one-step-at-a-time guide to make it easier for you to meet those deadlines.
How about making your own calendar? Just by using simple everyday materials and your trusty computer and printer, you can personalize your calendar so it suits you best. You can even design it with your pictures, favorite quotations or whatever else inspires you, so that you'd actually enjoy glancing into your schedule and not dread it.
The most important thing with using a calendar, though, is to follow through. Make sure to refer to it often, and to integrate all activities into it (both personal and professional so you won't, say, accidentally schedule your big presentation right on the same day as your daughter's ballet recital).
- Break up a big project into small, manageable chunks. Let's use the popular steak analogy: you don't gobble up this big juicy piece of meat and swallow it all in one gulp. You cut it up into bite-size chunks and chew them carefully before you gulp them down. This makes eating the steak not just doable, but enjoyable as well. This goes the same with our responsibilities: we have to make the effort of subdividing our tasks into little ones so they become more ‘conquerable'.
For example: Today's Monday and you have to submit 10 articles to your editor, due Thursday. Ask yourself: how long does it take for you to write one article? If it involves some minor research, give yourself about 2 hours. Using a bit of Math, you can break down this task as such:
- Monday - 2 articles (4 hours)
- Tuesday - 3 articles (6 hours)
- Wednesday - 3 articles (6 hours)
- Thursday - 2 articles (4 hours)
Without this system, the common tendency would be to put off writing until Wednesday, and end up doing 5 articles on that day (10 hours) and another 5 on Thursday (10 hours). That might prove to be quite an overwhelming experience.
Also, once you've accomplished your assigned deadline for that day, it gives you more freedom of mind and clears up your schedule to do your other tasks.
- Write it down. This cannot be emphasized more. By writing down activities/deadlines in your planner (and not just on separate, random sheets of paper that are almost guaranteed to get lost somewhere), chances are you'll never forget a deadline. And did you know that writing things down actually helps improve your memory?
- Delegate responsibilities/Don't be a "yes-man". Are you the type of person who just says "yes" to everybody? Don't! Being a "yes-man" has far more disadvantages than benefits. Always saying yes won't give you the reputation of being nice (remember: you can be nice by remembering birthdays, by putting them in your trusty calendar, or being polite to others, but not by doing other people's jobs); it would just probably typecast you as a weakling, or even a kiss - ass. Delegating responsibilities, however, is beneficial because it would involve other people into the project and give everyone a sense of shared accomplishment once it is finished.
Also, once you know how many tasks you've got for that day/month, you will be able to sincerely say, "I'm sorry, my day's pretty full. Anyway, I'm sure you'd be the perfect man to do it."
These are just five tips to help you start off to a new and a more responsible you. Enjoy!