I mostly hate this topic. Really. I just feel like somehow I should be able to fit everything in whenever and however. But this past December, after a crazy year moving halfway across the country and getting used to a new and very different role at work, I had achieved a high degree of mismanagement of tasks and email at work. I hated that even more. I knew I needed to make some changes, and so I did. Two months later I've settled into a groove. I'm at work inbox <5, tasks are disappearing off my list, and projects show clear progress toward deliverables.
In thinking about getting this far and the steps I took to achieve this, it struck me that maybe it might be more interesting to put together a list of reasons I knew it needed to happen. Who needs another 'this is how you do it' list? So, in the spirit of admitting you have a problem, here are seven ways you can tell that you need to make some time management changes.
1) You can't remember the last time you said 'no' to something that was important to someone else.
2) Your mobile loses charge from email updates, not texts or calls.
3) You have hours and hours of articles, videos, or podcasts that 'you'll get to.'
4) Each week, hours seem to disappear without evidence that anything productive happened during them.
5) Co-workers bypass email to get you in person for trivial matters.
6) You say more than once a month that all the meetings you attend are what keeps you from getting things done.
7) You are convinced that checking email more often will enable you to catch up.
Bonus) When you look at Facebook or Twitter, you can actually remember what was in the feed last time you looked.
There probably are more, but those seem to cover what I, and people I know, have shown as symptoms.
If any of those ring true for you, take action now. Trust me that you'll soon feel less stressed and more accomplished. As to how, there are many techniques and practices that work for people. Ask around to people you work with who you know are effective with their time. Or adopt one of the popular techniques. Or go eclectic like I did and build your own method. The goal is the important thing, the exact path less so.