If you have worked in the Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math industries for any amount of time, you know that a regular 9 – 5 job sometimes . . . just doesn’t happen. Some weeks, you may work 40 hours; others, you may work 80. It can be easy to lose track of time when you are working around a computer’s schedule. For instance, if you are a Software Developer and you are about to make a website go live . . . you have to be there through the initial process, make sure everything runs smoothly, fix any problems that occur, and work after hours (weekends included) when no one is using the system. It’s just a part of the job.
With that said, these types of lengthy work hours should NOT be an every week kind of thing. No matter what type of position you are in, you will have busy times and slow times. Below are a few tips that will help you with your time management during those weeks that seem to be organized chaos (without the organization). These tips will help you not only get through them in a healthy way, but keep you from getting burned out.
Know what you are signing up for. When you first decided to take a job, make sure and discuss what is expected. There are different companies that will have more easy routes – with less work. There will also be companies that will challenge you, allowing you to advance in your career more quickly. Know what you are signing up for when you take a position. If the company culture “norm” is staying until 8:00 p.m. every night, you need to know that in advance.
Make a list of priorities. It’s important to know what the most important tasks of the day are. There will be times when you work, and work, and work some more and you still won’t get complete everything. When this happens, make sure and communicate with your boss and your team. Let them know the progress of the situation and even ask for help.
Use technology to stay organized. It’s important to make to-do lists that prioritize your tasks for the day. A great way to stay organized is to utilize the “Tasks” feature in Outlook. Set goals throughout the day to stay on top of your tasks. If you don’t get one of your to-do’s done by your scheduled time, it will notify you. It’s also a great way to see how long you are spending on each project.
Take Breaks. Evidence shows that taking breaks throughout the day can increase your productivity. Take a few minutes for yourself every now and then. Take a few deep breaths, grab a cup of coffee, and set your mind on the task at hand. Also make sure and take a lunch break – it doesn’t have to be long, but give yourself a few minutes away from your desk every day.
Try a flexible schedule. If you know that you are going to be working a 12 hour day on Wednesday, take off work a little early. A good company that is looking out for your needs will understand that you need a break after pulling long hours. If you find yourself working a 60 hour work week, leave early every day the following week to compensate. The key here is to communicate your needs and be sure to keep track of your hours during each pay period.
Whether you are an Engineering Consultant or a Pricing Specialist, pace yourself and know your limits. These tips will help you stay organized and will help you tackle a long work week successfully. Are you interested in reading about more career tips? Check out our blog How-to Stay Connected With Your Company and Colleagues in the Technology Age to learn about staying connected to your team when remoting in.