Many of us wear lots of different hats as we move through the tasks we need to accomplish each day and week. We may begin the day wearing the “Researcher” hat as we scour through the internet trying to learn more about a particular topic. Then, mid-way through the morning, we may need to switch into the “Teacher” hat as we explain some key insights to a co-worker. After lunch, we might dawn the “Writer” hat as we finish drafting a report. Then, right before submitting the report, we find that we need to dust off our “Software Technician” hat so that we can troubleshoot some computer glitches.
Although taking on a variety of different roles can be exciting and interesting, it can also feel a little overwhelming and exhausting. Below are some tips for managing your daily activities and responsibilities:
- Prioritize tasks based on deadlines. It’s easy to prioritize the most interesting tasks and save the less desirable ones for later. But then we find ourselves scrambling to finish those less desirable tasks on-time. Rather than prioritizing work based on what’s most interesting, prioritize your work based on when it needs to be completed/submitted.
- Maintain a to-do list each week and plan out in advance when you’ll work on particular tasks. This will help you make sure that you have at least some time budgeted for the different tasks that need your attention throughout the week.
- Be generous in estimating how much time something will take you. Things almost always take more time than you expect, so add a 20-30% time cushion when you estimate how long something will take. Worst case scenario, you’ll get done early and have some spare time—finally!
- Know when you have the most brainpower and save challenging tasks for those times. Some of us do our best work early in the morning, while others don’t work at maximum brainpower until after lunch. Try to work on the day’s most challenging tasks when you’re at peak brainpower. Don’t waste your peak brainpower on tasks that don’t demand it.
- Expect the unexpected. Unexpected tasks frequently come up, and it’s important to have time to work on them. Set aside a block of time each week—like Wednesday afternoon or Friday morning—to tackle unexpected tasks.