There are two different ways that job seekers tend to get in trouble with assigning time values to specific tasks:
* You don't allow enough time to complete the task properly. When this happens, one of two things is about to happen. First, the entire day may be thrown out of kilter because other tasks back up and create a bottleneck that you cannot address until you finish your current task. The other alternative is that you become frustrated and lose even more valuable time attempting to focus and get on with the task. Either way, your time management process will suffer.
* You allow too much time to complete the task. There is no real value in allowing yourself a half hour to do a task that you know you can complete in five minutes. While it is important to always build in some spare pockets of time into your schedule throughout the day, keep it within reason. You will still be able to deal with unexpected events that crop up at the last minute by setting aside ten to fifteen minutes for that five-minute task. At the same time, you will use each hour to your advantage and get more done.
There is also the danger of trying to cram too many action items into a given time frame. Even the most efficient time managers realize there are only so many hours in each day. Cutting corners to save time on various tasks may appear like efficient time management on the surface, but this approach can easily backfire. Tasks that are only half-done in order to move them out the door more quickly are much more likely to come right back. As a result, the time savings you created before is quickly gobbled up as you have to sit down and redo the task, this time without taking the short cuts.
While setting reasonable goals seems to come naturally to some job seekers, others struggle with this part of effective time management. Here are a few suggestions that may make it easier to evaluate each task and carve out an appreciable amount of time to devote to each item on your agenda.
A. Begin with a defined start and end time for your workday. What this does is immediately allow you to determine how many hours you can reasonably devote to getting things done today. When you have a job, this step is pretty much defined for you, since there is usually a specific time to start work and a specific time to end. However, even if the process takes place in a household, setting a start and end time will make it much easier to schedule your time realistically.
B. Take a look at each task and attempt to prioritize them to best advantage. Any tasks that you must finish by a specific time of day should take priority during the scheduling. For example, if you have three tasks that you must complete before lunch every day of the week, schedule them as early in the morning as possible. This will automatically provide you with some extra time later in the morning if there is an unanticipated snag with any of the three tasks. The chances of still making your lunchtime deadline will be much better.
C. Assign a time allotment for each task, based on all data you have at your disposal. For tasks that you've done before, you will have a personal knowledge of how long it takes to manage them effectively. However, for new tasks, you may have to depend on input from others to set up a realistic goal for completion. If the task is new, then you may have to set aside the amount of time you used in the past for a different but somewhat similar task. Demonstrate some flexibility with your time allotments, since different factors can influence how long it takes to manage different tasks, even ones you've done for years.
D. Ask for input, but don't rely solely on what others have to say. Since we've already established that proper time management involves being open to new methods and strategies, there is always the chance that a suggestion or idea from a client will help you manage a task in a more efficient and timely manner. However, not every suggestion will be constructive, so don't automatically assume it will work. By all means, take it, look it over, and maybe even give it a try. But if it doesn't seem to have the potential to streamline the process and allow you to manage your time more efficiently, don't be backward about rejecting the suggestion and explaining why it is not practical. For all you know, doing so will prevent someone else from getting bogged down because they implemented a process that is really not all that efficient.
E. Never stop evaluating the schedule you create. Situations and conditions change over time. What worked very well five years ago may not be the best option today. But unless you are willing to look into new options, this may slip right past you. In fact, others may fail to notice as well, especially if your usual schedule is still somewhat effective and does not disrupt your workflow. But without this constant process of re-evaluation, you stand to miss out on some great tools that would help you manage your time.