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Time management or relaxation management problem?

Why Time Management Is ImportantAt work, I never feel like I get enough done. When I do have time off, I think about work and often just go ahead and work.

Then, when I go back to work, I don't feel re-energized from time off.

Never feeling rested, I then work in a less prioritized/efficient manner.

Any ideas on how to manage time better would be appreciated. My desired outcomes are to get more of the high priority work items done to a level I can feel good about.and then forget about work during time off

How do other people deal with this?


Topic Expert
Keith Perry
Title: Director of Global Accounting
Company: Agrinos, Inc.
(Director of Global Accounting, Agrinos, Inc.) |

In my last startup we had a nap room in our Stockholm office. I have friends who carve out time to meditate. I personally set a timer and get up at least once per hour. At Intel I had a colleague who elevated their desk so they stand all day.
Lesson: work stress has a lot of causes, and there are similarly a lot of simple answers. If you don't clear your mind (and prioritize), you'll likely not get the important stuff done.

I always keep a log of what I need to do and what I did. For my direct reports, they get to do the same thing, in theory for me. It does help me, but I think it also helps them focus and end the week with a feeling of achievement. Additionally, we have the "what I'm going to do next week" in there. That means over the weekend they get to forget all about what they're going to do, because they have it written down, and they're specifically planning to do it later.

On time off, I specifically either make social time (which for me as an introvert is a challenge), or plan exercise / athletic stuff. I plan to be busy, and in those moments I'm not thinking about work. Raquetball, rock climbing, mountain biking, yoga....anything that gets you into the zone, and clears your brain. Non zone activities like, honestly, TV...shoot your TV. Your brain needs to stretch in different directions, and passive activity does you no good.

Last, once you've got it sorted, maybe you have too much on your plate. If you've sorted it, and you're not getting done what needs to be done, get help or drop things.



scott graves
Title: CFO
Company: Armstrong Teasdale LLC
(CFO, Armstrong Teasdale LLC) |

What I've found useful is simply making a list of what needs to be done, prioritizing that list and putting realistic due dates for deliverables and completion times. [I say "realistic" because you have to take into consideration normal interruptions and fires that happen throughout the day.] I then work hard during the day to remain focused on deliverying what I've scheduled to accomplish. It's also helpful to post your priorities / review them with your supervisor to ensure that your priorities are in-line with the company's priorities.
Note that priorities will change and my list will change periodically. However, if I'm doing a good job at prioritizing and remaining focused on accomplishing what I scheduled to accomplish, I'm getting the most important things done.
This process also identifies when I'm not going to be able to get something done by it's due date well in advance of when it's due, which then facilitates conversations on delegating the task, moving the due date out or changing the priority.
Having the prioritized list helps me to "turn the switch off" when I leave work because I know that I'm being as efficient and effective as I can be when I'm working. Also, by merely writing all tasks down, the stress of having to remember everything that needs to be done is eliminated.

Jaime Campbell
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Tier One Services, LLC
(Chief Financial Officer, Tier One Services, LLC) |


Celebrate the milestones.

Mark Matheny
Title: VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis
Company: Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)
(VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis, Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)) |

A couple of things: One, work on what is important, not urgent. Another is to categorize your tasks into A (I hate doing this), B (I don't mind, but it isn't much fun), and C (this is the good stuff.) We tend to put off the As. We need to do those first and get them out of the way. If not, they linger in our minds all day.
Finally, delegate. This goes both ways. There is nothing wrong with pushing things " up" the organization.

Peter Gascoyne
Title: Senior Analyst
Company: American Family Insurance
(Senior Analyst, American Family Insurance) |

It sounds like you have an attention problem. When you work on one thing you think about another, and vice versa. Very tiring indeed. The good suggestions offered above should help by assisting you in keeping your mind on the task at hand, and not being distracted into thinking about other things. You may want to exercise this attention trait further by applying it elsewhere in your life. When you sit down to breakfast, try to just eat. And then read the paper, separately. Connect with your family and friends, putting down whatever you are working on when you talk with them.

Of course, this is all much easier said than done, and for most of us represents a lifelong struggle to a greater or lesser degree. Good luck!

(General Manager) |

I wear many hats at my company, AP, AR, HR, chief firefighter, etc. I felt much like you are describing until I hung a white board next to my desk. I write all tasks to be done (short-term, long-term, etc) Red signifies high priority and other colors are used to set apart the different aspects my job can touch upon, e.g. green for financial, blue for HR, etc. Once the task is done, it comes off the board. There are times that I have no room to write anything new, such as the end of 2013. Now, I just have 2 items on my board...for now. It's given me the freedom to enjoy my weekends since I don't have to constantly remember what needs to be done.

Michael Connor
Title: VP of Finance
Company: Alpha Card Services
(VP of Finance, Alpha Card Services) |

Get everything you need to do into a logical and trusted system outside of your head. I recommend a book called "Getting Things Done" by David Allen. It shows you that you can't manage time and you can't manage priorities, but you can manage your actions. Lots of good information in that book. My most productive times at work are when I follow his hints and guidelines. The most stressful times at work are when I go back to my old habits of having multiple "to-do" lists and a full email inbox. "Getting Things Done" shows you how to properly manage all that comes across your desk.

Topic Expert
Shannon Mathews
Title: Controller
Company: Aldrich Services LLP
(Controller, Aldrich Services LLP) |

I very much agree with this. If I stick by the GTD (getting things done) methodology then I leave work at work and home at home. It makes sure you know what exactly is out there on your to do lists so 1 you spend your time on the things most important to you at any given time and 2 you don't waste time rethinking your to do list all the time. All in all a much happier brain so you can concentrate on the item in front of you instead of worrying about what you might have forgotten to do.

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

I always love this question as I think most of us struggle with it. Everyone has great points here, so I will just add my own version or thoughts. It is very easy to become reactive to things. Most of us in this role wear multiple hats, so it's determining what is the most important of the day and everything else that gets done is a bonus! I prioritize my day the night or early morning while getting ready the morning of. I set my self "smart" goals; these are things that really must get done and then I set myself some bonus goals. So I make sure to get the smart goals done and leave at the end of the day feeling great by getting even one of my bonus goals done.

You will never be "caught up" and you will never get it all done in one day. Don't be too hard on yourself and relax in the feeling that you are making strides by getting done the top three to five daily goals you set.

Another thing I "try" to do is not be reactive to email. I will look at what must be answered in the morning; maybe check it out before lunch and before I leave for the day. I set the expectation: If it's on fire, call me; don't email.

Good luck!

(President Finance) |

It depends on the organisation you are in and also who sets your priorities - you, your boss or his boss. If the work atmosphere is chaotic and delivery expectations from you are high, there is bound to be a feeling of emptiness at the end of the day, when you have worked a lot but achieved little.

Laura LaCombe
Title: Residential Assets Manager
Company: Farmington Bank
(Residential Assets Manager, Farmington Bank) |

Make a to-do list and prioritize by importance and due dates. This will help you stay focused. Then, do the important items that you find the least enjoyable first. This will get them out of the way and off of your mind, so that when you do have downtime, you won't be worried about those tasks that you really don't like to do to begin with. I keep a monthly checklist of tasks, it keeps me on target and I feel good when I can check something as being completed for the month.

Carla Gordon
Title: Accountant
Company: Govt
(Accountant, Govt) |

I used to have the same problem. Couldn't stop thinking about work ALL the time. It was miserable. I attributed it to the stress of the job and thought, that's just the way it is. Two suggestions:
1) I agree with the comment about the book "Getting Things Done"-you need to write all the to-do lists down and stop the endless loop running in your head. I used to pride myself on my great memory. Now I just write it down and don't spend energy on remembering these things.
2) If the biggest stressor is your boss, look for a new job. Stress can kill you. If you have a good boss and still can't stop thinking about work 24/7, get evaluated for an anxiety disorder. It could be that.


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