time management techniques from a variety of sources:
- BE FLEXIBLE
Allow time for interruptions and
Time management experts often suggest planning for just 50
percent or less of one's time. With only 50 percent of your time
planned, you will have the flexibility to handle interruptions and
the unplanned "emergency."
When you expect to be interrupted,
schedule routine tasks. Save (or make) larger blocks of time for
When interrupted, ask Alan Lakein's crucial
question, What is the most important thing I can be doing with my
time right now?" to help you get back on track fast.
- DO THE RIGHT THING RIGHT
Noted management expert,
Peter Drucker, says "doing the right thing is more important
than doing things right." Doing the right thing is effectiveness;
doing things right is efficiency.
Focus first on effectiveness (identifying what is the right thing to do), then
concentrate on efficiency (doing it right). Think of your effectiveness
first; your efficiency second.
- ELIMINATE THE URGENT
Urgent tasks have short-term consequences while important tasks are those with
long-term, goal-related implications. Work towards reducing the
urgent things you must do so you'll have time for your important
Flagging or highlighting items on your To Do list or
attaching a deadline to each item may help keep important items from
becoming urgent emergencies.
- PRACTICE THE ART OF INTELLIGENT NEGLECT
your life trivial tasks or those tasks which do not have
long-term consequences for you. Can you delegate or eliminate any of
your To Do list?
Work on those tasks which you alone can do.
- WHEN FEASIBLE, DELEGATE
- SAVE YOUR SANITY
Realize that it is not possible
to please 100% of the people 100% of the time!
- IDENTIFY YOUR TIME
Resolve to eliminate
- GROUP AND SEPARATE
Tedious or redundant tasks can be
grouped for increased efficiency: file all at once, bill all at
once, order all at once. Large, multifaceted tasks, on the other
hand, may be best tackled in small pieces.
For example, sort
that large stack of paperwork on Monday, process some on Tuesday,
some on Wednesday, and so forth until it's done. Using this
approach, even the most daunting tasks become manageable.
- EMULATE OTHERS
Don't try to reinvent the wheel.
someone else always seems to be ahead of the game, watch and
learn. If someone else has a speedier way of doing something, copy
it. If you're having trouble getting specific jobs done, ask
others how they organize and execute the task; perhaps you've
overlooked some short cuts.
- MAKE WORK FUN
Introducing a bit of fun into your work
will make the day easier for you and your customers.
yourself to process one hundred pieces of paper every day for five
Have a friendly contest with a co-worker to see who can
process the most billing statements in an hour with no mistakes.
possible, flip your morning and afternoon schedules for a
change of pace.
Some Additional Time
Management Ideas from PRSPCT-L:
- Winter 2002 Connections
article. Editor: Lisa Thomas. "Taming the Hydra."
- "Making Work Work", by Julie
- I use my supervisor to
prioritize my work. It keeps her abreast of what I'm doing and
how long things take. I have a very good supervisor though.
She keeps me protected from frivolous requests and weird
projects and able to focus on what's most important. Other
than that, it's long hours and giving people realistic dates
for when projects could be done. Another thing, if they ask
for a massive project and you have zero time, ask what they
HAVE to know. What is the essential question? Sometimes people
just ask for everything when all they want to know is if Bob
is still chairman at x company. Press people into thinking in
terms of specifics. Good luck!
- Ask / demand a time frame on
when a project is due - ASAP is not an answer. Or, offer it
first. Q: I need a profile done on Mr. X. A: Happy to do that.
Is next Tuesday OK?
- If you have a lot of work that
has piled up, develop a suggested prioritization list and ask
your manager to review it with you. There may be some
activities that are not important anymore and can drop off. A
side benefit is that it lets your manager know everything you
are working on. Supervisors get overloaded too and more often
than not forget everything that has been assigned out.
- Track your activities on some
kind of log so you really know where you are spending your
time. This is great on performance review time when you can
say - "I spent 50% of my time on research instead of 90%
because of the additional projects that were required."
- There was an excellent
presentation at the APRA conference on training development
staff to do research - nothing complex, but just some basic
tasks. It's a investment in time now but may save some time in
the long run if others can help out in the research area.
- I created an excel spreadsheet
and every project gets entered with "date rec'd" "date needed"
"date completed" and "requester."
- I am in the same boat. I am
the only researcher here, and like so many of you, I also have
a multitude of other duties (mostly prospect management
stuff), that also require a great deal of time to complete.
Recently my boss told me that she wants me to spend 90% of my
time doing research, yet she and others constantly heap
non-research work tasks on me. I have spoken with everyone and
let them know of my capabilities and how much time I need to
complete certain tasks, yet no one really seems to care. I
have gone so far as to purchase two large dry erase boards
which are clearly posted in my office with all of the
assignments I am working on and those that are pending (all
including a due date)...while everyone seems to notice these
boards and have even noted that "you sure have a lot to
do"...no one really appears to care that I have an
unmanageable amount of work to complete in any reasonable
amount of time. Most of the time I feel like I am just putting
out one fire after another and never getting my "work" done. I
read the time management link below and do make lists all the
time, updating those that need to know what my schedule is
like. But again, no one seems to really care. They just expect
me to do everything and keep my mouth shut about it. Any
reasonable suggestions? What kind of work load to others have?
- We have a policy for research
requests that states we need at least 5-10 business days to
complete the project, however there are always exceptions. You
need to negotiate a due date. Everyone thinks their request is
the most important. I'm always asking what the request is
for...informational purposes only, an upcoming DO visit, a
wish list project, etc. If I didn't get another request for
the next 30 days I'd still be busy. It comes down to a matter
of prioritizing and if you have too much to do in a timely
manner maybe it's time to think about hiring another person.
- I assign blocks of time to my
to do list everyday. When someone stops by my office and drops
off another to do item, I make them give me a due date. If
they need it today then I show them my current to do list and
the times I have blocked off so they can see that I am busy
for the day. This gives them a chance to see when I am free
and when I would have time to work on their project. I tell
them if this is urgent then I would be willing to move one of
my other projects to a later date only after I check with
whomever that project is for first. I sometimes have them go
ask the person if they can put their project in front of
theirs. This has greatly eliminated the frequent pop-in to
do's I used to get. It is all about managing expectations. As
long as you give people a reasonable expectation of when you
can get this done and let them know that others are also
depending on you to get things done most people are willing to
work with you to make the request reasonable or sometimes do
- A friend of mine has another
way to keep interruptions at a minimum, she has a 2 hour time
block where she puts a sign on her desk that says, "Currently
away from my desk working!" When people stop by her desk to
and she am sitting there but the sign is up it means she is in
the middle of crunching numbers, proofing, or doing something
that requires her undivided attention and she can't really be
interrupted right now. She has told her office mates about
this before hand and they respect this time she needs when she
- What I just finished doing for
myself was write out what I wanted to complete today; I broke
down all the projects into manageable "to do tasks" and chose
what I wanted to get done today. And I was realistic about
what I could get done today (no sense in writing out a long
list that's impossible to complete from the very beginning and
feeling bad about it at the end of the day), and if I do
finish everything, I can start on another task. The last five
to ten minutes of the day, if there was anything I wasn't able
to complete or was in the middle of completing, I write myself
a note about what still needs to be done to complete that
unfinished task. (I hate wasting time in the morning reviewing
what I was doing to try to remember where I left off!)
- We keep a work log of
assignments. We input all requests into the log, as well as
upcoming events and anything that takes longer than half an
hour is recorded. In addition to serving as a check and
balance, this also helps me to prioritize projects and see
what's coming up. This is also helpful when I need to turn to
my boss for support in pushing back. We can look at the work
log together to decide where my time is best spent. It's an
- If I'm feeling swamped I do
ask for priorities--even if it's as simple as "do you need
this today or do you need it next week...?" Most of our DO's
here are pretty good about giving me lead time, but things
always pop up. Lately since our advancement systems division
has been understaffed they've been really understanding about
asking for things with as much lead time as possible and
generally saying "I don't need this right away" or "I need
this by Wednesday" or so on.
- I also struggle with time
management issues, but are some things we do here that help.
1) Insist on a deadline and also find out the reason the
request is being made (trip planning, qualification,
solicitation, etc.) Find out when the actions are supposed to
take place and talk with those
requesting the project to see if the deadline can be adjusted
if it is not realistic for your office.
2) Along those same lines: Set up guidelines for lead time for
your office. High priority requests need to be given 1 week in
advance, for example. There will always be exceptions to this
type of policy, but if you have something in place and enforce
it, there should be some improvement.
3) For projects that truly are "as you have time", set your
own priority levels. For example, you could base this on when
you received the request (first in, first out), estimated time
to complete, level of difficulty, etc.
4) Also, I have been told by the VP that if I have too many
requests for profiles/projects coming at me with deadline
conflicts that I can come to him to review them. He will help
set priorities for them and/or determine that some projects
seem pointless or will go nowhere. I have not had to use this
option yet although I think I probably
should have a couple of times.