30 Career Management Tips — Have a work management system

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Sep 20

This month, I’m providing a career management tip-a-day (along with other posts) to help you trigger your own career management activities.

Today’s tip: Have a work management system.

When most of us were in school, we could survive managing our stuff with a simple calendar and a one page to-do list. The we go to work in our new position and have the expectation that we will be able to manage our work the same way.

How quaint.

In today’s cost-cutting, outsourcing, lean Corporate Earth environment, you should have far more things to do than the amount of time to do them. Consequently, you need to beef up your tools for managing your work from a simple calendar and a simple to-do list.

Here is what needs to be addressed:

  1. Task listing. You receive tasks from e-mail as well as other sources. But your e-mail system should not be your task list; it is an input to the task list. You need to be able to see the tasks that need to be done separately from everything else so that you know these are tasks.
  2. Projects. A project is not a task that can be done in ten minutes. A project is a multiple task work set that needs to be done over time. Consequently, a project is organized differently then a task list and your system will need to address this organization method.
  3. Calendar. Most of us can use a calendar well, but in a corporate environment, it is important to carve out time on your calendar for working on your stuff to the exclusion of everything else. With electronic calendars showing your available time to everyone in the corporation, if you don’t block out time for yourself, someone else will take that time for them.

While this all may seem obvious, my point is that you need to think about how you are managing your tasks, projects and calendar. If you don’t have a system of managing your work that actually works, you won’t be able to deliver to your team. Managing work today is a lot more than a monthly calendar, a blank notebook, and hope.

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