Managing your time
Management of time, people and events are an integral part of our
daily lives. Here are some basic suggestions from Elaine St James,
Bottom Line November 1998, and Linda Rothschild, Bottom Line January
1999 to simplify our lives. Simplifying your life doesn't have to
be an "all or nothing" proposition. There are easy ways
to create more time for the things that are important to you without
relinquishing the rewards of a job well done.
I was fascinated to learn how long ago the art of management actually
began. In Bottom Line, June 15, 1998 Robert Kanigel introduces us
to the "Lessons from the Very Famous Father of Efficiency". I have
been lucky enough to have a professional mentor who is a wonderful
example of his leadership principles.
Take the suggestions from these three experts that will help you
get more out of your time without feeling like you are squeezed. If
you don't have time to completely reorganize your life, here are strategies
that will help you immediately.
Frederick Winslow Taylor invented the profession of management consultant
more than 100 years ago. Taylor taught the business world how to be
more productive by working smarter. He understood that knowledge,
not muscle power, was America's prime productive resource.
Taylor died in 1915, yet there's hardly a management theory today
that isn't based on his original thinking......
||Be a hands-on leader. His firsthand
knowledge of the job became the foundation for his management
theories. Taylor thought about how to make workers more efficient
and productive because he remembered being "the worker". Because
Taylor was always a visible manager, his workers were inspired
to follow. They worked as hard as Taylor did because they wanted
to please him.
||Base decisions on knowledge. Taylor
never made decisions based on guesswork. Before coming to a conclusion,
he would time, measure and observe a situation firsthand until
he knew enough to make an intelligent decision. "When you
guess," he said, "the work will end up being done less
efficiently and less productively than if you had taken the trouble
to find out."
||You can't ever know too much. It's
commonplace today for managers to stress the importance of knowledge
for business success. Taylor understood its importance in 1880,
when he began a book titled Book Containing Notes of Importance.
He filled it with every detail about work and workers he could
collect. All this knowledge -- when analyzed and refined -- became
part of his theories on worker productivity.
||Demand performance -- and reward it
when you get it. As a manager, Taylor stressed worker efficiency
and productivity at a time when "soldiering" -- working
just hard enough to appear to be busy -- was a common workplace
tactic. His management strategy was to push people constantly
to produce more than they believed they could accomplish. His
mission wasn't reckless -- he knew exactly what they could do
based on his notes.
Workers often complained that Taylor was demanding the impossible.
In time, though, some workers found they could meet Taylor's production
goals. And -- the workers who met those goals were immediately
recognized and rewarded.
||Think long term, even at the expense
of the short term. Taylor would have been the first to question
today's emphasis on short-term performance at the expense of enduring
long-term achievements. He always complained that the businesses
that employed him as a consultant would inevitably want to see
results almost immediately.
In later years, however, Taylor came to realize that it took time
to produce the efficient, smoothly running operation that he wanted.
He warned clients that it might take two, three or even five years
to properly introduce his techniques of scientific management
and get them to run smoothly. To those who demanded haste, he
replied that people who tried to do things in a slapdash way inevitably
||Pick the best person for the job --
then train him/her to do it right. Taylor believed a manager's
first duty was to study, analyze and improve each job within the
organization. .. then to find the right people for the jobs and
properly train them for the tasks. If that notion seems obvious
today, it was a revolutionary concept in an age when most businesses
were run on the basis of tradition and guesswork.
Training was a slow and tedious process when Taylor began work.
But even in his apprenticeship days, Taylor agreed to work for
less money if he could accelerate the learning process and move
from one function to another. "I wanted an opportunity to
learn faster rather than earn high wages, and for that reason,
I had especially good opportunities to progress," he wrote.
It is important to remember that Taylor's approach to training
allowed him to hire the best people for the job -- whether they
had actual working experience in that field. He liked the idea
that they came to the job with no preconceptions or prejudices.
||Practice cooperative management Taylor
could be autocratic and opinionated -- convinced that his approach
was the only way to accomplish a task. Yet in the workplace, his
goal was to replace the open antagonism between workers and management
common in the 19th century with an atmosphere of cooperation.
Strategy: Taylor saw his role as building a collaboration between
manager and worker -- with each working together to get the maximum
output from a particular job. He argued that his method of management
"makes each workman's interests the same as that of his employer."
Exception: Taylor was wise enough to realize that his style of
cooperation couldn't work for every one...that some workers needed
some degree of individualism in order to achieve their best. But
when possible, he said, the best managerial approach was a grand
cooperation that left individualism behind.
||Prioritize your staff's work with
one sheet of paper. Each morning -- or the night before -- write
down and prioritize a to-do list for each employee Make copies
for yourself and the employee. This will give you a clear record
of what is going on. Then go over the list with your staff at
the end of the da for a status report. You can then jot notes
on your copy.
||Get off "automatic pilot"
If you're like most people, your daily work routine has become
so automatic that you rarely take time to reflect on what you're
doing or where you're going. The problems and stresses in our
jobs will keep surfacing until we take time to examine what works
and what doesn't ...and more important, what can be done to make
Goal: To simplify your life, begin by freeing up one hour a day
for at least a month to evaluate what exactly is complicating
your job and your life.
||Commit to accomplishing specific projects
each day. Regardless of how hard you try, there simply aren't
enough hours in the day to be everything to everybody who needs
you. That's why it's important to create a list that helps you
structure your day. Make a list of...
.....the tasks you think need to get done each day.
......the three to five most important things on that list that
you can reasonably achieve in an eight-hour day.
If there's still time after you accomplish your top priorities,
start working on the rest of the list.
||Remove your name from unproductive
office distribution lists. Look around your office. How many piles
of "stuff are on your desk or atop filing cabinets? If any
of the materials in these piles were top priority, you would have
looked at them weeks ago.
Helpful: Deal yourself out of magazines, newsletters, reports,
etc. that you don't have to see -- and more important -- don't
have time to look at. This also includes taking yourself off unnecessary
E-mail distribution lists.
||Limit the number of work-related social
engagements you attend. Saying no to business lunches and dinners
can be politically incorrect. So, it's important to determine
those events at which your presence is essential -- and those
you can skip.
||Strike a balance between work and
other commitments in your life. Example: If you don't see your
children because you're spending a lot of time at social situations
for work, commit to one appointment a month and cancel the rest.
||Stop feeding your ego. Be aware of
how work-related opportunities, such as office committees and
professional associations, can complicate your life. Identify
the purpose they'll serve in your career. Ask yourself if you
truly have the time for these activities. If the opportunity simply
looks good on paper or meets someone else's expectations of what
you should be doing, you may want to reconsider before you commit.
||Build in an extra day at the end of
vacations or business trips for "catch-up" work. Rather
than fighting the clock your first day back, leave a message on
your voice mail indicating you'll return one day later than you
actually will. This allows you to catch up on the events that
occurred while you were away. Keep key co-workers informed so
that they can intercept calls or forward critical calls, if necessary.
||Replace bits of paper with a small
notebook. Post-its and memo papers with notes scribbled all over
them often get misplaced or forgotten. That's how important details
fall through the cracks
Instead, use a small, softback note book for a master list. Put
all phone numbers, directions and other bits of information that
require processing action or follow-up in the notebook. Then take
each action item and write it in you calendar. For instance, if
you know you will have free time on Monday to return calls or
write a proposal, make a note of that on your Monday page to make
an appointment with yourself.
||Use a tickler file to avoid losing
critical information. An accordion folder with 43 slots labeled
January to December and 1 to 31 -- corresponding to the days of
the month -- is a great way to store date-related information
that you will need in the future.
||Make business cards memorable. We
all collect business cards and then forget why we have them. Helpful:
Write the event and date on the back of the business cards. Then
file the cards by resource or category rather than by the person.
This system will prevent their names from disappearing into your
Rolodex or electronic organizer if you can't remember their name
or their company names.
January 15, 1999, Linda Rothschild president of Cross It Off Your
list and author of Fast Ways to Get Organized for People Who Don't
November 15, 1998, Elaine St. James, author of Living the Simple
Life; A Guide to Scaling Down and Enjoying More
June 15, 1998, Robert Kanigel author of The one Best Way: Frederick
Winslow Taylor and the Enigma of Efficiency