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:
- Virtual Communications: I
- Participating in or managing a virtual team presents special communications challenges. Here are some
guidelines for communicating with members of virtual teams.
- Changing the Subject: II
- Sometimes, in conversation, we must change the subject, but we also do it to dominate, manipulate, or
assert power. Subject changing — and controlling its use — can be important political skills.
- Ten Reasons Why You Don't Always Get What You Measure: III
- The phrase "You get what you measure," has acquired the status of "truism." Yet
many measurement-based initiatives have produced disappointing results. Here's Part III of an examination
of the idea — a look at management's role in these surprises.
- Illusory Incentives
- Although the theory of incentives at work is changing rapidly, its goal generally remains helping employers
obtain more output at lower cost. Here are some neglected effects that tend to limit the chances of
achieving that goal.
- Be With the Real
- When the stream of unimportant events and concerns reaches a high enough tempo, we can become so transfixed
that we lose awareness of the real and the important. Here are some suggestions for being with the Real.
See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming January 29: Higher-Velocity Problem Definition
- Typical approaches to shortening time-to-market for new products usually involve accelerating problem solving. Accelerating problem definition can also help. Available here and by RSS on January 29.
- And on February 5: Unrecognized Bullying: I
- Much workplace bullying goes unrecognized. Three reasons: (a) conventional definitions of bullying exclude much actual bullying; (b) perpetrators cleverly evade detection; and (c) cognitive biases skew our perceptions so we don't see bullying as bullying. Available here and by RSS on February 5.
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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.