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  Time Management Techniques More With Less
Time ManagementSome time management techniques from a variety of sources:

    Allow time for interruptions and distractions.

    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 your priorities.

    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. http://ianrpubs.unl.edu/homemgt/nf172.htm


    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. http://ianrpubs.unl.edu/homemgt/nf172.htm


    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 priorities.

    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. http://ianrpubs.unl.edu/homemgt/nf172.htm

    Eliminate from 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. http://ianrpubs.unl.edu/homemgt/nf172.htm



    Realize that it is not possible to please 100% of the people 100% of the time!

    Resolve to eliminate them. http://leadership.cas.psu.edu/Materials/TimeMngmt1.pdf


    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. http://www.ascp.com/public/pubs/tcp/1997/sep/helpfulideas.html


    Don't try to reinvent the wheel.

    If 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. http://www.ascp.com/public/pubs/tcp/1997/sep/helpfulideas.html


    Introducing a bit of fun into your work will make the day easier for you and your customers.

    Challenge yourself to process one hundred pieces of paper every day for five days.

    Have a friendly contest with a co-worker to see who can process the most billing statements in an hour with no mistakes. If
    possible, flip your morning and afternoon schedules for a change of pace. http://www.ascp.com/public/pubs/tcp/1997/sep/helpfulideas.html

Some Additional Time Management Ideas from PRSPCT-L:

  • Winter 2002 Connections article. Editor: Lisa Thomas. "Taming the Hydra."
  • "Making Work Work", by Julie Morgenstern.
  • 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 it themselves.
  • 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 must concentrate.
  • 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 excel document.
  • 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.
Contributed by ...
Zachery Weigert-Derr, Assistant Director, Annual Fund, University of California Santa Cruz
Email AddressSupportingadvancement.com Time Management Techniques
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