When you start working in a busy 9am-5pm full time job, it can be difficult to adjust from university life to professional life. You might find that your work takes up all your time and leaves you with no energy to maintain your personal or social life. At Professional Super, we’ve put together our top tips to optimise your time management and get your work-life balance back on track.
Goal setting is a very underrated time management tool. Set goals where you’re specific about exactly what it is that you want to accomplish and establish a hard deadline. Setting out a list of short and long term goals will help you keep your priorities straight and keep you focused. Establishing hard deadlines for yourself means that you will be able to keep track of your plans and use your time better. This is a very powerful time management tool as it can help you set out and plan your day, week and even your career.
At the start of your workday or week, get into the habit of reviewing your goals and breaking them down into a set of smaller, actionable tasks. By doing this you will have a clearer path to your goal. This not only reduces anxiety around your tasks, but can help you get a sense of accomplishment when all your little steps bring your closer to your end goal.
Be diligent about sorting your high-priority duties ahead of less important ones, even if there might be easier or faster tasks to complete. You might find that it’s easier to finish difficult tasks at the beginning of the day, or when you first start working as that’s the time you’re the most awake and motivated. Brian Tracy, author of the popular book Eat that Frog
, calls for people to finish the worst tasks first so that everything you need to do afterwards seems easy and appetising. In his terms, prioritizing your tasks can help you spot what “the frog” is, and what your easier tasks are. Furthermore, having a live to-do list means that you’re holding yourself accountable for your tasks and makes it easier to stick to your goals.
Establish a routine
While the idea of a regimented and predictable lifestyle can sound boring, it is effective for time management as it allows you to fit everything into a finite time schedule. For example, if you go to the same gym class every Wednesday morning, you’re less likely to opt out of it when you know it forms part of a consistent routine. The same goes for leisure and social activities. Put a bit of planning into doing things that you love - whether it is taking an hour out of your day to watch your favourite tv show, read a book, or catch up with a friend. Knowing that you have a planned event coming up will motivate you to complete essential tasks and gives you something to look forward to outside of work.
We’re all guilty of procrastinating from time to time. Sometimes you might not even realise you’re procrastinating! Choosing easy tasks and saying “I’ll do it later” to the harder tasks is one of the biggest forms of procrastination that can put you at risk of ruining your work-life balance. If you push the tasks you have to do to the bottom of the list, you can end up feeling tied down for the whole day and dreading eventually having to do it. There's no easy way to overcome procrastination but if you can power through the pain, we guarantee you’ll feel way better when you finish and end up with a clean to-do list.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Your first full-time position is probably pretty daunting. It’s common to get caught up in wanting to do well and be professional and so many people convince themselves that good employees don’t need to ask for help. However, the people around you can be vital in giving you advice or assistance when you need it. Don’t think of asking for help as bothering your co-workers or mentors. They’re often more than happy to help and you’ll just be wasting your time stressing rather than speaking up. Asking for the help from someone who’s been in the job longer can help you quickly resolve the issues and give you more time for other tasks.
Meal Prepping is everything
Prepping your meals ahead of the work week can really be a lifesaver for both your time and your bank account. You don’t have to cook and freeze a meal for every day of the week but even planning what you’ll make and pre-cutting your ingredients can go a long way in saving you time. You can make a few meals on the weekend to get you through Monday- Wednesday, and have your ingredients ready for the rest of the week. After a long day at work, coming home to a ready-made meal that you can just pop into the microwave not only saves you time, but can leave you with more energy to focus on other things you’ve been putting off or just couldn’t find the time for.
While you’re still adjusting to your new work schedule, make sure you don’t overcommit to events by hoping to maintain the same social life as before. Each week, consider how busy you’ll be from Monday to Friday, and try to adjust your social calendar accordingly to avoid burnout. The same goes for your career, if you know that you need some time on the weekends or after work for yourself and your relationships, be comfortable to turn down work drinks or a networking function if you just don’t think you can manage. You might want to revisit your long term goals to figure out what events you should be prioritising and attending, and what you can skip.
Don’t forget to look after yourself
Sometimes when life gets hectic, you can forget to leave time for yourself and the things that make you happy. It can be really beneficial to take a step back from the chaos for a day or two and do something that’s completely for yourself. Even if it’s just cancelling your weekend plans to be at home and catch up on cleaning the house, bingeing on a Netflix show and hanging out with your pets. You might find that taking a small break can give you a chance to refocus and return to work refreshed. Finding time to do something completely for you can help improve all aspects of your life, from your career to your mental health.
While the start of a career is very exciting, it’s easy to become overwhelmed or burnt out from exhaustion. Manage your time and maintain a balance between your career and personal life by sticking to these time-savers, and you may just be able to have it all!