I think as a young professional, we try our best to make sure we do everything that is asked of us in a timely manner. We want our manager(s) to see that we’re able to do anything they throw at us, so we sometimes accept unrealistic timelines and work crazy amount of hours to get it all done. It causes us to burn out easily and I think it’s why we jump from organizations so quickly. We need to set the expectation that we are only one person, we can’t do everything, and we can’t work an insane amount of hours to ensure it gets all done. We end up putting too much stress on ourselves and honestly, it’s not healthy for our minds or bodies. So, what can we do to make sure we are managing our priorities effectively?
- Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed. I recently got some great advice that when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I need to remember the time management quadrants: (1) urgent and important, (2) important but not urgent, (3) urgent but not important, (4) not urgent and not important. I often feel that during busy times everything seems to be on a deadline, but we have to remember that not everything is important and urgent. We need to learn to identify our priorities by working with our manager(s) to determine what they want and when they want it, so we aren’t working on something that maybe isn’t as important as something else.
- One Project at a Time. Try focusing on only one project at a time. Set aside a block of hours each day to work on it and give it your undivided attention during that time. What works for me is chunking it out into sections and assigning a particular section to each day. Before you know it, you’re done and can move on to the next one.
- Be flexible. Let’s face it, we work in HR; we’re used to our priorities changing daily. Unexpected things come up that need our full attention and we have to stop everything we’re doing to handle a situation. Be adaptable and accept the new priority because once you’ve handled it, you can get back to your other commitments.
- Details, Details, Details. If you are detail-oriented like I am, you probably spend way too much time focusing on all of the minute details within your project. This can put us behind with other priorities, so sometimes you just have to suck it up and cut the cord. Acknowledge when you are nitpicking through something and set strict deadlines to keep yourself from getting sucked in too far.
Just remember that not everything is top priority and you are only one person that has a life outside of work. Your mental and physical health is important and you come first, always. Do what you can today and save the rest for tomorrow; believe it or not, the work will still be there.