Let’s face it, time is not our friend. Many days at work we spend putting out various fires throughout the day and at the end of the day we have to work late to catch up on just our daily workload. Then when your boss turns to you and your still not done with your regular work explaining what you’ve been doing with your day just sounds like another excuse as to why the work didn’t get done and you feel you failed.
Management experts will tell you that you need to manage your time more efficiently. But the problem with that statement is that everyone who is throwing work at you says their work takes priority and is an immediate fire to put out. This is where communication comes in and asking questions. Another person’s fire or emergency does not mean it should be your emergency. When given a task, make sure you ask questions. This is key to time management and people don’t and because the person asking is a supervisor in some fashion or another you take it on faith that they know what you’re working on and wouldn’t be giving you a project like that and telling you it takes priority otherwise. This unfortunately is a fallacy. Your supervisors may have no idea what you’re working on and may be telling you something is a priority that isn’t. This is where asking questions can be important. Ask who the project is for and what the deadline for the project is. Once you know the vital information you can better manage your time and then set expectations. They may say it’s a priority but then it’s due by the end of the week and not the end of the day or within the hour. If that’s the case discuss with your supervisor the other projects you are working on and the various deadlines and set expectations as to when you will start working on it and when it will be completed by. This will prevent the disaster of working on a project you thought was a priority only to find out the deadline was further out than another project you were also supposed to work on with a tighter deadline. Haven’t we all been there before.
In the end, it’s up to you to manage your time and your work load. Asking questions up front and setting expectations can make you go from looking incompetent to looking like a superstar overnight and will reduce your stress and likely help you manage your time more efficiently. Remember someone else’s emergency isn’t your emergency. Don’t add unnecessary drama to your life.