In a whole host of different careers and lines of work, time management is important. In meeting and event planning industries it is absolutely paramount, with many people looking to you as their guiding light in how to pace the whole approach to the event. However, we live in an extremely busy age, with instant communication, constant distractions and an overbearing sense that if you aren’t moving at break-neck speeds then you aren’t succeeding. All of this can lead even the most organized people to slip behind and be forced into situations where they are leaving important things to the last minute.
Here are a few ways in which you can try to combat the demands of the busy world, to ensure that you never slip behind in your time management and find yourself scrambling to get things together.
1. Know your limits
It seems a strange place to start, but one of the absolute keys to avoiding that mad last-minute rush is, sometimes, to not take on the event or meeting in the first place. This shouldn’t be used as an excuse to avoid pushing yourself, but it can be really important that you actually pace yourself in what you agree to.
“Over-committing is such a common mistake I see,” says Vivienne Britton, team leader at 1Day2Write and Brit Student. “I’d much rather someone say ‘no’ to me about taking on a job, than agreeing and then letting me down.”
You’re much less likely to run into last-minute time-management issues if you’re doing the right amount of work rather than way too much.
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2. Don’t let yourself slack off
Sometimes, the exact reverse of the point above is true. Busy people stay organized, or so the famous maxim says. It’s certainly true that you need to know how much you can take on, but sometimes having hardly anything can actually be a hindrance to achieving what you do have to achieve on time. When you’re in the routine of meeting daily goals and hitting your targets, it feels much less difficult to achieve everything you need to in good time. When you have hardly anything on, you can much more easily find yourself rushing to get the one thing you did have to do done.
3. Track of your behavior (and start now!)
Accountability is key in eliminating late-game panics from your life. Knowing what you are supposed to be doing and then actually recording what you have spent time doing can be a really effective way of keeping things on track in the future. Kathy Bridge, a meeting planner at WriteMyx and Australia2Write, says, “Keeping a log of your activities daily can then become an excellent resource for future projects. You can see where you optimized your time, but most importantly what might have directly caused issues in the past.” Once you know what mistakes you are making, you can then eliminate them until you’ve perfected your scheduling practices.
4. Prioritize tasks effectively
It’s a bit of a typical thing to hear, and one which can be quite annoying to be reminded of, but it is really important that you tackle the most difficult, daunting, time-consuming tasks first. Often your perception of what is actually going to end up taking up a lot of time can be miscued—the biggest jobs are the ones that will hurt you most in this regard. If you get them out of the way first, then you are eliminating the possibility of one of them really hurting you with how much time it is taking. You’ll always find meeting your deadlines a lot easier when you do this.
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5. Train yourself to handle the rush
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just end up with a mad rush to the finish line on a project. The first thing to do is not to beat yourself up about it. Things happen: Maybe it was your fault, maybe it wasn’t. Given that you’re in the situation you are, there is nothing that you can do about it. So, a bit of skill with handling the accelerated deadline is actually really important. In the best situation, you learn to avoid the last-minute struggle altogether. But completing the project at all is still better than just throwing in the towel altogether. Figure out how to work under pressure, so when the situation arrives, you can handle it.
So, there you have it, a few ways you can avoid mistakes that force you into last-minute situations. You’ll always run into a few, no matter who you are, so be prepared for those. But, with some good discipline and self-awareness you should be well on your way to tightening up your planning.
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Martha Jameson is a content editor and proofreader at Origin Writings. Before she chose writing at Academic Brits as her calling, she was a web manager and designer. Martha’s main goal is to share her experience, motivation and knowledge with her readers.