Tuesday, July 26, 2011

5 Ways to Time Manage Like a Pro

Hey there, fellow Edsters!

Time is flying by, and it’s crazy to think I’m more than halfway through my internship. The finish line is approaching, but the last thing I want to do is cross it. I’ve had so much fun here, and I’ve fallen in love with this city and my position.

I get thrown a lot of things now. You could say my internship is like a guy ready to take the next step in our relationship: since the second half of my internship started, my editors have been giving me much more important tasks and putting more faith in me. It’s a testament to my work, and the last thing I want to do is let them down. That’s why now more than ever I’ve been relying on one key skill: my ability to multitask efficiently.

Never say no to an assignment. It’s something I truly believe in as an intern. It’s your job to help as much as you can. A little nervous about a new task? We’ve all been there, but it’s important to push yourself and set aside your shyness or reservations. Go for it, and know the most rewarding assignments are the ones that push people out of their comfort zone. You can do it (that’s why your editor gave it to you), and you’ll grow from it!

But what happens when things pile up, and you just don’t know where to begin? You’ve got five different assignments on your plate, and five different editors who need your help. Of course you accept them all, but what do you do first? How do you keep your work at its best on each assignment you do? The answer is surprisingly simple: get organized. I’m all about good time management, and I’ve found the best interns and editors I’ve come across share that ability to prioritize.

How to go about it? These are the five tips I’ve seen that have really helped me.

1) Prioritize your assignments. One thing my editors really emphasized at my internship was that different assignments have different urgencies. While it’s easy to feel you need to get everything done ASAP, the eds at the mag really highlighted the importance of weighing assignments. Think about each in terms of its deadline urgency, time commitment and nature. And when you don’t trust your own judgment, be completely sure by asking an editor how urgently they need something done. It’s always better safe than sorry!

2) Make a to-do list. I live by my Post-It note to-do lists — no joke! (I have six hanging over my desk now). Making a to-do list at work (or school) helps me keep a list of what I need to do always in sight. I order my projects and then cross them off. And let me tell you, nothing feels as awesome as a to-do list with all checks. It’s a constant reminder of all you’ve done.

3) Use your computer’s calendar. Whether it’s iCal or the calendar function on Entourage, set reminders for important, time-sensitive tasks. For example, I’ll set reminders for myself to follow-up or email people if they don’t respond to me by the end of the work day. Having that reminder pop up on my screen when I first come in the next day really helps me keep track of what should be done first.

4) Use your downtime productively. Even if you have nothing urgent on your plate, don’t let any day go to waste at your internship. Take time between assignments to research or work on ongoing projects. It’ll show you’re taking initiative, and chances are your editor will love it if you send a completed assignment in before he or she requests it.

5) Build in little breaks. It can be so easy to get swept away and overwhelmed by work, but it’s so important to build in five minutes between assignments to get up and let your mind clear. Take a water break. If it’s around noon, take lunch. Don’t be afraid to take a couple minutes to get away from work so when you jump back in, you’re fresh.

So what do you think, Edsters? How do you manage your time? And what’s the organization technique you live by?

Until next time,
Women’s Mag Intern

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