In Part I, we looked at time-defragmentation strategies. In this Part II are some strategies for recovering time by reducing planning effort and the time needed to deal with difficulties that arise from self-defeating patterns.
- Get help with micromanagement
- Micromanaging is an attempt to control what we cannot actually control. That's why it chews up so much time.
- Have you been micromanaging? If you have, you're in for a treat: you actually do have time to do your own job, and once you focus on it, it will be fun again.
- Get more space
- Cramped, cluttered quarters cost time. If you can't get a bigger office, compress the stuff you have.
- Strategies for compressing your stuff: get taller filing cabinets; throw stuff out; move things to storage; and acquire shelving, trays, or drawers.
- Harness the urge to perfect
- Stop doing the tasks
you shouldn't be doing.
They aren't your job.
- We spend way too much time ironing out details of components that we'll never actually use.
- Learn the meaning of "good enough." Situations change so rapidly that building for the future (that is, next week) is often a waste. Do what you're pretty sure you'll need — and no more.
- Spend less time searching for stuff
- Among the items most commonly lost are: cell phone, eyeglasses, documents, keys, and whatever you had in your hand a minute ago, until you set it down someplace.
- Organizing helps with the documents. For the other items, establish a standard "parking space" for setting things down temporarily.
- Get out of the swamp
- Sometimes we're so swamped that we don't have time to work on getting unswamped.
- Give priority to tasks that free you up. For instance, you might have an assistant, but he or she isn't cutting it, and you're tolerating that. Deal with it.
- Stop doing tasks you shouldn't
- Some things we do aren't really a part of the job. We took them on because we didn't know how to say no, or we liked them, or maybe we can't let go.
- Unload what you can, and then deal with causes. Learn to let go. Learn to say no. Learn to let others do the things you love that aren't part of your job. Get some coaching or help from a mentor.
And here are two suggested by reader Rodney Thompson:
- Shift your time
- Start your day an hour earlier to gain some uninterrupted time when no one is around.
- Clearing the delicate, frightening, or urgent tasks might keep them from nagging at you for the rest of the day.
- Monitor yourself
- Realistically write down your top priorities for the day, and set time aside to get them done.
- Put the list somewhere in easy view. Mobile devicess are nice, but index cards are always powered on.
The article you've been reading is an archived issue of Point Lookout, my weekly newsletter. I've been publishing it since January, 2001, free to all subscribers, over the Web, and via RSS. You can help keep it free by donating either as an individual or as an organization. You'll receive in return my sincere thanks — and the comfort of knowing that you've helped to propagate insights and perspectives that can help make our workplaces a little more human-friendly. More
- Ron Thompson, Eiscon Group, Ltd. (www.eiscon.com)
- Here's another one that I learned a while back. Be brave enough to leave when you are done. Staying around for "appearances" is a huge time waster!
Your comments are welcome
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More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
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- Nearly everyone complains that email is a time waster. Yet much of the problem results from our own
actions. Here's Part III of a little catalog of things we do that help waste our time.
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- Remote Facilitation in Synchronous Contexts: II
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- Wacky Words of Wisdom: IV
- Words of wisdom are pithy sayings that can be valuable so often that we believe them absolutely. Although
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See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming December 11: The Rhyme-as-Reason Effect
- When we speak or write, the phrases we use have both form and meaning. Although we usually think of form and meaning as distinct, we tend to assess as more meaningful and valid those phrases that are more beautifully formed. The rhyme-as-reason effect causes us to confuse the validity of a phrase with its aesthetics. Available here and by RSS on December 11.
- And on December 18: The Trap of Beautiful Language
- As we assess the validity of others' statements, we risk making a characteristically human error — we confuse the beauty of their language with the reliability of its meaning. We're easily thrown off by alliteration, anaphora, epistrophe, and chiasmus. Available here and by RSS on December 18.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.