A day in the life of a recruiter is anything but boring. You’re holding intake meetings, juggling applicants, candidates, and hiring managers, and answering a barrage of emails from all three. While the rush of staying on top of so many moving parts might have been what attracted you to the role in the first place, it can also be your downfall if you don’t manage your time wisely. Without effective time management, you can lose track of candidates and clients, missing deadlines and losing out on beneficial relationships and potential income. It’s essential to have some good time management processes in place so you can act fast—and place the right people at the right jobs swiftly. Here are five techniques that could help you better manage your time as a recruiter.

1. Ditch Your To-Do List; Move To Your Calendar.

Ditch your to-do list. Yes, seriously. A running list of tasks is significantly less efficient than blocking off time on your calendar to accomplish specific tasks. Blocking off time visually helps you be proactive instead of reactive. It’s easy to put off tasks on your to-do list when someone emails you with a last-minute request, but if you’ve blocked off time to accomplish something, you don’t even need to be looking at your email during that time. You’re essentially “in a meeting” with your task; your to-do’s become structured blocks of time and not just “when-I-get-to-them” goals. This strategy helps you make sure nothing slips through the cracks. Of course, you can still leave time in your schedule to react to unexpected tasks—those are a given in the world of recruiting. But you don’t have to come from a reactive place all day long.

2. Tackle The Most Daunting Tasks In The Morning

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” Mark Twain famously said this and it’s been showcased for years as the “eating your frog” method. Simply put, it’s best to tackle your most complex tasks first thing in the morning instead of saving them for later in the day when your energy has waned and it takes more to psych yourself up for the task. Accomplishing a difficult task first thing in your morning also increases your productivity throughout the rest of the day. You feel inspired and motivated to keep that momentum going, and that sense of pride at eating your frog lets you eat perhaps, more palatable tasks later on. In other words, if your nemesis is spreadsheets, don’t save it until 2 pm when you’re likely to hit an afternoon slump. Get the daunting stuff out of the way so you can keep the momentum going all day long.

3. Score Or Group Your Candidates In Order To Prioritize Your Attention

After an interview with a candidate, you should take some structured notes on how they should be “scored.” Everyone likes to score or group candidates a little differently, but it’s important to have some system in place to categorize your candidates. Crelate, for example, helps you group hot, warm, and cold candidates by moving them through a visual pipeline, in addition to offering basic scoring. You can then apply other colors to make only the most engaged candidates visibly pop. This helps you know which candidates you want to move through your pipeline so you can act quickly on them—and know where to focus your attention instead of spending time on more lukewarm or uninterested candidates.

To get a sense of what differentiates a lukewarm candidate from an ideal one, there are a few questions you can ask. Are they:

  • Immediately available?
  • Excited about the opportunity?
  • Quick to respond and easy to keep in contact with?
  • Working exclusively with you?

If the answer is yes to most or all of these, score this candidate highly and focus more of your time on them. Everyone’s a little different, so finding the right tool to help you score and group your candidates is important. Above all, this methodology helps you prioritize where your energy and time should be going as a recruiter.

4. Put An End To The Last-Minute Meeting

Meetings can be productive or they can be draining. And more often than not, when a meeting is unexpected and last-minute, it’s interrupting time that was blocked off for something else. Those last-minute meetings can creep up on you; someone stops by your desk asking if you have a minute, and you don’t want to be rude, so you agree. While some situations probably will require a quick meeting, in many cases the person in question simply wants validation for what their plan already is. Ask someone “what do you think the best solution is?” and see if they already have a sense. You can often curtail the need for last-minute meetings by talking something out in a few minutes at your desk. You can also politely ask to set up a meeting the following day—most people will understand if you’ve already blocked off time for other tasks.

5. Take Breaks

We live in a culture that’s obsessed with being busy—but busy doesn’t always mean productive. True productivity comes with balance, and that’s why you should incorporate short breaks throughout your day to stretch, walk around, and disconnect. The next time you feel swamped and like you can’t seem to get anything done, ask yourself this: Are you spinning your wheels because you haven’t taken a break in a while? It’s hard to be creative or productive without any moments of pause in between tasks. Step away from your desk and refresh and recharge.

As a recruiter, your success is dependent upon efficient time management skills. The more efficient you can be, the more you’ll enjoy your own job and the more quickly you can move the right candidates through your pipeline and place them in the right role.