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Home Back Issues No. 26: Managerial: How to Achieve a More Productive Workday?

Apr 19

No. 26: Managerial: How to Achieve a More Productive Workday?

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Learn to Prioritize, Delegate Tasks

How to Achieve a More Productive Workday?

Reader Question: I have more to do with fewer resources. I keep falling behind, my stress level is increasing, and I feel out of balance. Are there tools and techniques that will help?

Expert Comment: We all seem to have too much to do and, while there’s never enough time for everything, there’s always enough for the important things.

The first step is to plan your day in advance and make a “To Do” list with all that you want to do. Then prioritize the list: “1” for the most important item, “2” for the second most important, etc. Complete your items in order of their priority and, while you may not get all of them done, you’ll find that you will complete more of the most important items.

Next, arrest and remove some of the “time thieves” in your day. The easiest way to do this is with a Time Log. Nothing fancy. Get a pad of paper and head it up with four columns: Date, Time of Day, Event and Rating (Crucial, Important, Little Value or No Value). Periodically throughout the day, stop and log in how the previous time interval was spent.

For example, on Tuesday, April 6, from 9:00 to 9:45, you attended a meeting that was “Important.” Then from 9:45 to 10:00 you had a telephone interruption from an old vendor, which had “No Value.” Be sure to log in the data throughout the day as your time is being spent. Don’t wait until the end of the day or you may forget some things.

Then take aim at reducing some of those chronic time-wasters in your day, the unwanted interruptions, unproductive meeting time, and the things you work on that could be better delegated to a staff member, co-worker, friend, or family member. As you begin to eliminate some of these time thieves, you will recapture that time to handle more of the productive items in your day, reducing your stress and creating more balance in your day — and your life.

Comments by Dr. Donald E. Wetmore, JD, president of the Productivity Institute in Stratford, Conn., which has provided time management and personal productivity training for 20 years through monthly public seminars and in-house seminars at clients’ locations.

Tune in to his audio conference April 29 at 1 p.m. on “Making Every Minute Count.” Visit www.principalinvestigators.org for dial-in details. Only two days left to register!

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Comments (6)
written by Anonymous, April 27, 2010
I wish I had the time to make a log but I barely have time to make a to-do list!
written by Ha!, April 27, 2010
I made my priority list, but everything is a number "1". Now what?
written by RKS, April 27, 2010
I have learned over the last few years that approximately 50% of the time I answered my phone I ended up with more work to do that was not in the "important to me" category...such as ending up on yet another committee or panel or something. I now let the answering machine take all calls. Anything important and someone will leave a message and I check those regularly throughout the day. Vendors almost never leave a message so I don't end up wasting time on that any longer. It's very rare that I miss a call that I later wished had answered immediately. Strangely enough, people who are charged with putting together a committee must be going on to their next candidate if they don't get an immediate response from you as they too are trying to have a productive day and get this burden behind them. I like the list idea but I do it mentally...most of the time I spend my day putting out fires. Writing this paragraph is during my down time.....to be avoided :-)
written by anonymous1, April 27, 2010
a big time-saver is letting go of the need to have everything be perfect. Some things are just not worth it.
written by mkarver, April 27, 2010
I have a couple of suggestions that have worked well: 1st - as academics, it is easy to forget that we are surrounded by a wonderful and untapped resource... undergraduates. They are all desperate for research experience. Let them help you. I utilize 20-25 undergrad RA's every semester. They can help with all sorts of tasks 2nd - create protected time for yourself - write down times in your planner that you are only allowed to do things such as write - you cannot answer the phone or check your e-mail.
written by Anonymous, April 28, 2010
Sometimes "old vendors" actually have some new ideas that will most likely save you time in the end. Not answering the phone, ignoring their calls and basically keeping a closed mind is never much of a good idea and certainly bad matters at best. Isn't is wonderful that people don't treat you the same way when you have a great idea? How many times have you passed on something just because you didn't know about it. A good sales person or vendor can also be a great educator when he's doing his job properly. An educator with a closed mind isn't much of an educator at all. When you start believing you know it all, chances are you don't really know much at all!

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