By Deanna Cox
Being a part-time employee and a college student can sometimes be a lot to juggle. My school schedule is priority and fortunately my part-time job schedule is flexible. Staying focused while on the job can be very difficult as the mind set for college work is very different from that of my part-time job duties. It can be very challenging. The following are five key points that have helped me manage the two very different schedules. My hope is that these points will help part-time employees, as well as their managers, make the most of their time on the job.
Prioritize Projects with Deadlines
When assigned several projects at work, it can sometimes become overwhelming. Everyone has a set number of hours in a day on the job. Trying to accomplish all the duties can make one balk and delay steady progress. Sometimes you may be asked to switch focus in the middle of project to a different task. Prioritizing these duties can be difficult. I find the best approach is to make to-do lists then review these with my manager. Managers are able to provide direction for your focus and help prioritize the work on your different projects. They can also discuss deadlines for each project as this will help you stay motivated and give you a better idea of how long you should be working on each project in order to complete them on time.
As a college student, my first priority is school. Working for a company that agrees makes it much easier to have the flexible hours needed. Communication is essential. I schedule all class time on the company calendar and share my calendar with coworkers. This allows everyone to view my schedule and to know when to expect me on the job. I also keep my manager up-to-date with what is going on in my school-life. By doing this, we are able to decide if/when I need to decrease or increase my hours, depending on my work load. Also, if I am behind on emails I take a few spare minutes in the evening to check them; this helps me focus on projects and not spend all my time on "housekeeping” duties while in the office.
Necessary Company Meetings
With many of our associates working remotely, meetings are a big way for our company to keep in touch and continually train and educate the team. This is a great aspect to have, but for a part-time employee, it is hard to stay on top of projects when attending meetings daily. To make the most of your time, make sure to attend meetings where you can make valuable contributions as well as receive valuable information for your job. Before a meeting, verify if you really need to attend the entire time or would the meeting minutes provide you with the information needed. Or possibly ask for a 5-10 minute update from the leader. If you do have to attend a meeting, ask if the meeting could be scheduled at the very start of your day or the very end of it. Having meetings that are dispersed throughout your 4-5 hour shift can be very distracting and retract from your productivity.
Laser Focus Time
Another thing to remember is that even though I am only in the office part-time it is important for me to take short breaks to stay focused while working on a project. We were recently introduced to a new tool called Focus Booster (www.focusboosterapp.com) which is a free download that can be customize to your own preference. Right now I set mine to work for 25 minutes and then have a 5 minute break before starting back to a 25 minute focus time. During the 5 minute break I check personal e-mail, Facebook, chat with a coworkers, etc. These scheduled breaks help me reenergize before getting back to work. I have also found that having 25 scheduled minutes keeps me focused and makes me work faster trying to get more done before my personal break. Even if this tool isn’t for you, make sure to take short breaks throughout a shift. This will eliminate burn-out and help prevent losing enthusiasm in your work.
Redistribution of Job Tasks
Another element that occurs with changing school schedules and summer hours is that job tasks will constantly be changing. You might be hired to do one job and end up being allocated to do something completely different. The number of tasks will fluctuate with the number of hours scheduled. The more hours scheduled on the job, the more tasks will be assigned. No matter what tasks you are assigned, all are important to the overall outcome of the firm. These redistributions in tasks are to advance the business and keep you involved without overloading you too much.
About the author:
Reprinted from The Boomer Bulletin, published by Boomer Consulting, Inc.