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!
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More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- Holey Grails
- How much of the time and energy you spend in meetings goes to finding the best way? or a better way?
It's of questionable value unless you first agree on what you mean by "better" or "best."
- Recovering Time: I
- Where do the days go? How can it be that we spend eight, ten, or twelve hours at work each day and get
so little done? To recover time, limit the fragmentation of your day. Here are some tips for structuring
your working day in larger chunks.
- In the Groove
- Under stress, we sometimes make choices that we later regret. And we wonder, "Will I ever learn?"
Fortunately, the problem usually isn't a failure to learn. Changing just takes practice.
- Achieving Goals: Inspiring Passion and Action
- Achieving your goals requires both passion and action. Knowing when to emphasize passion and when to
emphasize action are the keys to managing yourself, or others, toward achievement.
- No Tangles
- When we must say "no" to people who have superior organizational power, the message sometimes
fails to get across. The trouble can be in the form of the message, the style of delivery, or elsewhere.
How does this happen?
See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming June 26: Appearance Antipatterns: I
- Appearances can be deceiving. Just as we can misinterpret the actions and motivations of others, others can misinterpret our own actions and motivations. But we can take steps to limit these effects. Available here and by RSS on June 26.
- And on July 3: Appearance Antipatterns: II
- When we make decisions based on appearance we risk making errors. We create hostile work environments, disappoint our customers, and create inefficient processes. Maintaining congruence between the appearance and the substance of things can help. Available here and by RSS on July 3.
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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.