Work isn’t always a steady, linear process. For some industries, or departments, it comes in peaks, troughs and cycles. Whilst you cannot change the cyclical nature of some work, planning ahead puts you in control of these cycles, rather merely reacting to them.
A few basic rules of time management
Good time management is essential if you are to handle any heavy workload without excessive stress. Concentrate on results and not activity.
Focus on your priorities so that you deal only with the most important jobs during your ‘busy’ phase and leave the low value jobs until you have more time. When busy – delegate as much as possible, especially those less urgent jobs which can be distracting.
Downtime and what to do with it
Downtime may seem like dead time, or a time to relax, if you only view it as having nothing to do. The smart thing to do is to make use of it creatively. For example, are there any non-important, non-priority jobs which you can do in your downtime and get out of the way?
You may not feel like doing them – because they are not important – and may not be subject to impending deadlines, but they will inevitably weigh on your mind if left unfinished.
Macro time management
The macro approach means not simply looking at how to handle things when you're busy, but looking at the whole work cycle. Examine what important tasks will be coming along in the future and ask yourself is there anything you can prepare for now.
Will you need to organise additional resources such as:
Downtime, especially if it is predictable, is a great chance to organise training courses for yourself or others. Retraining or up-skilling in downtime doesn’t impact on the daily workload and also minimises impact on the bottom line.
It’s a chance to bring yourself or your team up to date with developments in your industry by attending or organising:
Traditionally in the creative industries, studio downtime is often a chance to ‘pitch’ for new business or generate new ideas. In any organisation, however, it is a chance to explore and investigate new opportunities or a new way of doing things.
Managing the peaks
When work is very busy, it’s all hands to the pump, making it even more important on focus on results. Is the task you are doing really worthy of your time, or could it be satisfactorily delegated? However, those tasks which we feel are too important to be delegated may be our subjective views.
For example, are you simply doing a job yourself because you deem it to be more prestigious?