7 time management tips for IT professionals

As an IT professional, it probably seems like there's never enough time in the day.

As an IT professional, it probably seems like there's never enough time in the day. If you're not dealing with customer service tickets, you probably have other pressing responsibilities on your hands. More effective time management can make you a better employee while improving your ability to move up in the company. Here are seven time management tips every IT professional should take advantage of.

1. Set Your Own Deadlines

If you have a deadline of 1/9 for a project, set your own deadline for 15/8. By setting your own deadlines you can complete more projects with less stress, all while proving your capability as a professional. Plus, if you do fall behind, you'll have an extra buffer of time to get your work done.

2. Avoid Multitasking

Don't juggle multiple projects simultaneously. Even if you have lots of work on your plate, avoid jumping back-and-forth between tasks. You'll be more effective and get more done by following the "FOCUS" method: Follow One Course Until Success.

3. Hand Write Your To-Do List

Mobile apps are great for to-do lists, but they can get lost in your mobile device. Instead, write yours out by hand and post it somewhere you can see it. Segment your list into three categories: tasks you must complete, projects that are necessary, but not time-sensitive, and minor items, such as email follow-ups, that can wait.

4. Use Your Commute Time

Turn down the radio on your drive to work and focus on matters at hand. Plan your work day and decide what you'll tackle first. On the way home, review your work day and assess how it went, and mentally work on tomorrow's to-do list.

5. Download the Right Apps and Plugins

Apps can really help when it comes to time management. For instance, Evernote is great for note taking, Toggl can help you identify where you're spending your time, and Dropbox's cloud service is great for backing up documents. If you frequently fall prey to Internet interruptions, such as social media or fantasy sports leagues, use a plugin like StayFocused to block access to tempting websites during working hours.

6. Do Undesirable Tasks First

Think about the daily responsibilities you dislike the most, then commit to completing those tasks as soon as you get to work. By getting them done first, you won't dread them throughout the day, and once they're complete, you can focus on the work you actually enjoy.

7. Get in Better Shape

Improving your physical health and getting adequate sleep can actually make you more productive. By exercising and eating right, your brain will feel sharper and you'll be more energised to tackle tough tasks. Join a gym near your work and squeeze in a workout on your lunch hour. This combats mid-afternoon slump and also ensures you won't have to find extra time to exercise outside of work hours.

Once you start managing your time more effectively, take your strategy to the next level. Review your work on a weekly basis and analyze what went well and where you fell short. Adjust your habits accordingly, addressing any shortcomings while celebrating your successes. How do you stay on track and manage your time as an IT professional?

Frank Simon is an IT professional who writes about technology, productivity, and personal development.

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