There are many activities throughout the day that waste our time. They may not seem significant individually, but can add up to equal minutes or even hours of wasted time!
Where does your time go?
Get morning beverage, say hello to co-workers, and unpack desk 20 min.
Online surfing at work 120 min.
Social networking (non-work related) 30-180 min.
Stop in the hall throughout the day to speak with co-workers 45 min.
Take time in the restroom to visit with co-worker 20 min.
Extended lunch and breaks 30 min.
Personal telephone calls 20 min.
Here are some time management tips to keep you moving forward.
Do not keep putting off a task that needs to be done. Tackle tasks promptly. Remember and use this rule: Handle each piece of paper (or each e-mail) only once.
Politely prevent others from disrupting you at your desk. How can you tactfully do that? Try any of these three methods:
- Don’t put down your pen or pencil and don’t stop working. Don’t relax or fold your arms. Instead, lean forward or sit upright. Glance up only to say “Hello, Bill, how may I help you?” or “Hi, Bill, what can I do for you?” This visually signals Bill that you are not dropping your work to chit-chat with him. You are acknowledging his presence and want to help.
- Since some people may not pick up your cues, physically do something: pick up the phone and start dialing or turn to the computer and begin typing.
- Be friendly, but direct. Say something like, “Bill, I’d like to talk to you, but I’m in the middle of a deadline. Maybe we can talk at lunch or later in the day.”
Save steps. Organize your work logically according to the errands you must do to avoid unnecessary trips back and forth. For example, accumulate items for copying and plan to go to the copier two or three times per day. Unless something is urgent, you can put it aside for planned trips. You can save even more steps by planning out your errands and making sure you have everything you need before leaving your desk.
Lack of Detail
When given a project or task, get all the information you can at once. This way you will avoid going back several times to the person who initiated the task. People often give us a piece of information rather than the entire picture. Imagine a puzzle. The person providing you with information sees the entire puzzle – the big picture. However, when communicating what is needed, he or she may only give a small part. This makes it harder for you to do an adequate job. It creates errors and rework because thoughts and needs have not been defined clearly. Help others give you the details required to perform at your highest level and most efficiently by asking people questions and clarifying what you think you heard.
Inability to Say “No”
Of course, you want to be helpful, but what if you are already swamped? How do you decide when to say no to a request? Ask yourself if this is part or an extension of your job. If not, is it a way to advance your career or are you being taken advantage of?
A crisis is an unexpected interruption or major impact above and beyond the normal day’s events that require your immediate attention. Expect the unexpected to occur during the day. Head off crises by finding out why things keep going wrong and learning to anticipate the outcome of events. All of us have to be able and ready to, at one time or another, “pull a rabbit out of a hat.” The real “magic trick” is not working that way every day!
Establish some quiet time throughout the day to get yourself reorganized and mentally back on track so you can tackle the day’s activities and events as they occur, planned or unplanned.
It is important to take time throughout to plan the next day and next few days. There are plenty of opportunities to be reactive. The more you plan and organize your work, the less stress you experience and the more effective and productive you become.
For more great Assistant Time Management Tips, get our Time Management for the Modern Assistant: Proven Tactics for Taming Your Day eBook.