Effective Time ManagementMonday, November 7th, 2011
You probably have read about or have been lectured on time management techniques. Keep a log of your activities, plan your work carefully, prioritise jobs, allow for interruptions but also give yourself periods when you will not allow interruptions, review your activities at the end of the day. All good stuff, but the problem is – other people. In the workplace where you engage with other people you will have great difficulty planning your work in isolation. You can manage time more effectively, but only in conjunction with these other people. See if you can get your colleagues to co-operate so that you can all benefit from basic time management techniques. Here are ten points to get you started.
- Get your colleagues together once a week to plan those things that have to be done together or that will involve groups of them. Then encourage them to agree personal set-aside time when you will not interrupt each other.
- If any of you complain about time wasted by subordinates chatting about their holidays, consider how much more time you could save by not arranging or sending them to unnecessary meetings.
- Investigate to what extent you and your colleagues react to unplanned work demands, then see if you can find ways of planning them. The more people you involve in planning work flow, the more committed they will be to making the plan work effectively
- And the more people you involve, the greater the chance of them pointing out potential bottlenecks and other problems that can then be planned out.
- Make allowance in your planning for meetings, training sessions and absences. If these events do not occur, make sure that you can use the time saved profitably.
- Call your people together to plan meeting time, but nevertheless convince yourselves that each meeting is necessary and that everyone who attends really needs to.
- Make sure that the purpose of each meeting is made clear, that other matters are not allowed to intrude unless really relevant, that everyone is given opportunity to have their say, that the discussion is kept to the point, and that the meeting moves quickly to a decisive conclusion.
- Save writing, reading and filing time by issuing minutes only if necessary. Even so, it may be sufficient to issue a note stating the date, who was present and the purpose of the meeting followed by a brief summary such as “The meeting agreed that we would begin production of the new model on 3rd December. John Smith will ensure that the machinery is set up and Bill Jones will ensure that material is available.”
- Don’t hesitate from telling people who interrupt the work pattern of you and your colleagues that they have caused disruption and wasted your time. Suggest how they could behave better.
- Have a get-together with your colleagues during one of your breaks each week – perhaps each day – to chat about outside work matters that might otherwise take up working time.
Will all this work? Probably not, but try at least some of these ideas. Not only will they improve your organisation’s effectiveness, they will also reduce much frustration for you and your colleagues.