There are all kinds of tactics to be more productive, have a better focus and successfully manage your time. Everyone has their own challenges and everyone has their own ways of tackling or approaching them. How do other professionals deal with this and what can you learn from them?
Gina de Sloothaak is Office Angel (a.k.a. Office Manager) at innocent drinks. We asked her about her approach and advice on planning and time management. “Good planning is crucial to me. If I don’t have an overview, I start to worry and get stressed.”
Hi Gina, what is the role of time management in your job?
“Planning is a crucial aspect in my role. Firstly, because I work part time and have from 8 to 12 every day to complete my duties. Second, because I have two daughters that I have to pick up from school right after work. I also live in another city and therefore travel a lot with public transport. To avoid stressful situations, I try to plan and organize everything as well as possible.
Sometimes there are events or meetings that require me to be in the office all day. In such cases, I have to coordinate my home and work agenda even more closely. It is very important to me that my daughters are doing well and are taken good care of when I am longer at work.”
What kind of strategy do you use for this?
“I always try to think three steps ahead and avoid last-minute tasks. This is easier for administrative tasks. For organizing events there are more factors that I have to take into account. In such cases, I make a complete agenda and to-do list in advance to avoid unforeseen situations.”
How do you manage your agenda?
“Every Friday, I write down the priorities for the coming week. Monday morning is a busy morning for us, so I don’t have time for that at the beginning of the week. Also, every day I check whether the priorities are still correct and which tasks have priority over others. Being able to prioritize is very important to me.
Next to that, I ensure that my agenda is structured and clear. The first half hour I block for office activities. The second half hour I do my email. Then, I schedule an hour for tasks resulting from that. The other two hours are for other projects and organizing events or meetings.”
How do you deal with distractions?
“On a normal day I am walking around a lot, so when I need to do more focus-work I work from home. Most of my co-workers do the same thing. In addition, my to-do list is sacred to me. That way I know exactly what needs to be done day by day.”
What is important to you when managing your time?
“The most important thing for me is to keep thinking three steps ahead. Next to that, I try to schedule tasks in advance, avoid last-minute tasks, and stay calm.”
What do you do to stay calm?
“During the planning process for big events I can get a lot of stress from all the tasks that have to be done. That is why good planning is crucial, so that I have an overview and do not start worrying. If I find myself worrying, I shut everything down. I take a few deep breaths, go out for a walk, and try to shake it off. When I’m charged again, I can continue.”
How do you take care of a proper work/life balance?
“When I go home, I close my laptop and it won’t open until I’m at the office the next day (unless there is a critical situation of course). Also, I turn off notifications on my phone.
On Fridays, I treat myself to a nice chai tea when I’m on my way home. I think it is important to treat yourself and be kind to yourself, and this is my way of doing that. I have earned it and this way I can fully relax and enjoy the train ride home.
On the weekends, I often go for a run. Simply because it makes me feel good, but also because it is a moment that I can spend completely with myself. That me-time is also important to me.”
How does innocent support her employees on topics like planning and balance?
“We have several meetings and check-ins to discuss what’s on the agenda and what are the priorities for the week ahead. In the area of relaxation, you can book massages with us and we for example encourage colleagues to take a walk after lunch.
In addition to the services of OpenUp, we also have our own ‘mental first aiders team’. Some colleagues have received training in ‘mental health first aid’. If you are struggling with something or need a listening ear, you can turn to them.”
Do you struggle with planning your tasks or do you get stressed from your to do list? Our psychologists can help you to get a better overview and feel more calm. Schedule a (free) meeting to discover how we can help you.