One of the hardest things we all face is Time Management and trying to get everything thing done.

In the workplace, it seems we never have enough time, especially whenever someone needs something from us and it always sounds like an emergency. Most of us tend to drop what we are doing and rush to get this new task done. So, we clear our schedules and devote our focus to this project – only to find out that the person who requested this did not need it right away.

The question then becomes: How do I own my own schedule?

In our management training sessions for individuals, we address organization and stress the need for you to write out and schedule those tasks you must complete each week/day to move you closer to completing your projects.

That is your framework for your upcoming week. Your focus and goal is to complete YOUR tasks as you have scheduled them.

Inevitably there will be things that disrupt your schedule on any given day – e.g., an emergency meeting, a problem on site, your superior is heading into a meeting and needs the stats from last month’s sales, etc.

What you have to do now is to protect your schedule to make sure your work gets completed. So if someone asks you for a task that is not on your schedule, it is up to you to get clarification.

Here are two approaches for getting clarification:

1.   Ask for a deadline. If someone says “As soon as you can,” what does that really mean?  Get specifics. Does it mean today, tomorrow, next week? Do not begin a project for someone else without knowing the timeframe in which they need it done.

2.    Let them know when you can get the job done.  “I’m working on something right now but can get you this info by 11 a.m. tomorrow. Is that okay?” This begins to set up parameters that you will not just drop everything and that whatever else you are doing also is important.

The person making the request may agree to your timetable and then you can schedule it so that you can meet the deadline. If they say “No, I need it before the end of the day” then tell them you will have to check and see what you can move around in your schedule. If it is possible to move things around, do so, lock down a time, and complete the task. If you have another deadline for the end of the day, explain your situation. If necessary, ask both parties and your supervisor which should get done first. This way no one is disappointed.

I am not saying for you to push back on every little thing, especially if it takes two seconds to get what someone needs. However, if it looks like it will take time to deliver results, make sure you are clear and set up an acceptable time frame that is agreeable to all parties involved.  Owning your schedule will give you a sense of control and will cut down on your stress.

Remember: Those who are constantly overwhelmed or always complaining about time often are the ones who will allow any interruption to wipe out their own schedules and they never get back on track.

Let me know your thoughts.

Glenn Pasch is the President of Improved Performance Solutions, found at Improved Performance Solutions is a consulting firm that specializes in helping organizations improve their customer interaction. They provide the proper training to convert conversations into sales and positive customer service experiences.