This month, we’re celebrating admin. professionals’ accomplishments and strategies. This week, we’re focusing on time management and strategies shared by Real Careers alumni.
Diana; Germany: I usually finish little things first. The quicker I cross out tasks from my to do list, the more time I have for the important projects.
Jane Brazzill, England: If you’re like me and you’re constantly got a voice in your head telling you the million OTHER things that you have to do, keep a pad of paper on your desk and write down each of these to-do items as they come to you. Emptying them out of your head allows you to stay focused on the task at hand, and you won’t worry that you’re forgetting something important.
Giulietta Driver, England: Diarise, diarise, diarise. If you can schedule it, do. I also try and schedule big tasks for when my CEO is out at a meeting or away. I know that there will be minimal distractions.
Sherri Eckworth, England: Prepare, prepare, prepare and don’t be worried about double or triple checking. Organisational skills have to be top of my list and, by compartmentalising my day and assigning projects a set amount of time, I am more likely to stick to a deadline and be successful.
Melissa Francis, England: My diary and my mobile. I plan and set myself reminders and pop ups to keep me on track with tasks and meetings throughout the day. I also keep a “to do” list so that I can continually prioritise as my day evolves.
Stephanie Fryer, England: I live my life by lists; I have one for everything. Make a list, get a cup of tea, and work your way through.
Kim Glover, England: Making a list of everything I need to get done that day. I’m a terrible procrastinator, and I need a bit of pressure to be really effective, so a tight deadline always focuses the mind.
Jill Goertzen, Canada: Before you leave the office for the day, print off your calendar / to-do list for the next day; review it. That way, when you arrive in the office the next day, you know what you need to get started on right away. As mentioned above, set aside a few times throughout the day to check/respond to email and make sure you work first on the tasks that are time sensitive. Acknowledging receipt of the message is helpful the recipient will know you got the message and will respond in due course.
My most effective time management strategies are my to-do lists and email flags. After I complete every task, I review all items to determine the next biggest priority. To be clear, this does not include the things that take only a couple of minutes – I am referring to the larger projects and tasks. For example: do I book the flights next or finalise meeting minutes/action items to be distributed?
This means that, no matter what is added to my plate, I always know the most important items are being completed first. If something urgent comes up, and my priorities are shifted, then I can come back to determine what is required next.
Maria Gottberg, Sweden: Lists, lists and coffee
Cathy Harris, South Africa: Plan in advance and arrive on time.
Susan Henderson, England: I have a few: Fake deadlines work well for me and my boss for delivering the product on time. My internal emails are automatically categorised and a copy automatically files in the senders’ folder, which allows me to whizz very quickly through my inbox and delete messages that do not need a reply as the copy is there for my record. Quick steps are amazing as you can do so many steps with just one click; these save me enormous amounts of time for repetitive processes. I also have various rules set up to clear non-urgent emails and junk from my inbox, allowing me to focus on the priorities.
Florence Katono, Uganda: Be organised. A few minutes of organizing saves the day. Everything at its time. That’s how I have managed to strike a balance between a busy personal and career life. One thing at a time. I used to think that having all work assignments spread out on my computer was being efficient. However, I have learnt that if you just concentrate on one at a time, you would be able to accomplish more. Automate. Vickie Sokol believes that assistants spend late hours in the office because of the failure to use technology optimally, like rushing to send a meeting reminder at 7:00 a.m. instead of using the delay delivery option. Know your prime time. It’s best to understand when one’s energies are highest. I am a nocturnal animal. I usually love to do things when the world is silent.
Helen Le Poidevin, Guernsey: I always try to make a “to do” list before I leave the office at the end of the day, and without this list I do not know whether I am coming or going.
Marion Lowrence, England: If you are late, you could be missing out on opportunities that you will never know about! So be on time (my Nana taught me that saying.) I use my diary and tasks in Outlook, and try to stick to the tasks for the day. I always have a notepad in my handbag to make notes when I remember things when away from the office, and then put them into Outlook on my return. I have an electronic filing system and very little paper files, so most of my work is available electronically on the move meaning I can make the most of travel time, too.
Michela Luoni, Italy: I write a to-do list based on my calendar.
Kelly McAulay, Scotland: Being clear on what the priorities are, and knowing exactly what time of day works for your executives if you need to speak with them.
Cindy Moeser, Canada: Two things: Perfection is the enemy of “good enough”. My biggest time-management issue was that I felt everything needed to be perfect the first go ‘round. I have learned to remind myself often that sometimes “good enough” is indeed good enough. Break a project into pieces and check in often with those around you as you finish each “piece”. It’s easier and much more efficient to correct a path you are on mid-way through rather than starting over from scratch.
Donna Olliver, Guernsey: My saying is, don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today. If it’s only going to take a few minutes – get it done. It’s one less thing to come in to tomorrow.
A to do or to dah list is great. I write one before I go each evening. The other thing I do from when I worked for a doctor’s practice is that I date sticky notes with what is happening and attach it to each piece of my pending. That way, if I’m out of the office and someone needs to know what is going on, they can pick it up and handle it as all the notes are there.
Rosy Painter, England: Make lists and prioritise four or five items that need to be started/completed each day. Also, stay away from social media if you have a lot to get done; it eats time!
Helen Rees, England: Plan ahead. Look through your day at the start and identify hotspots, potential conflicts and potential moments of calm. Don’t keep checking email all the time; make specific time slots where you tackle emails so that you can get your other work done. Don’t promise what you can’t achieve or deliver – if you are asked to take on a task, people would usually prefer an honest answer that gives a realistic timescale for completion (or reasons why it’s not possible) than for you to say yes and then not be able to deliver.
Marelva Rodrigues, The Netherlands: Getting things done before the time I set for myself.
John D. Shaw, USA: If it’s a simple task, do it immediately and prioritise the bigger tasks. Also, have a killer email filing system to keep things sorted.
Melanie Sheehy, England: Lists, lists and more lists. Not only do I have lists but I also have Post-it notes scattered around my desk.
Melanie Stevens, England: My most effective time management strategy is to use follow-up flags and keep a clear inbox. I have hundreds, possibly thousands of tasks in Outlook and ToDoIst, but I don’t look at them until my reminder pops up. I flag items and then move them out of my Inbox, otherwise my eye will be drawn to things I don’t need to think about yet! The brain can only manage between five and nine pieces of information at any one time, so why overload it?
Matthew Want, England: Making sure that you have a clear strategy of what needs prioritising for your boss and yourself. It is key that you make sure you are continually on top of what your boss needs so you can make her/his workload easier – and, in return, helping manage the workload for yourself.
Louise Whitehead, England: I personally find my to-do lists, and clearly marked priorities within those lists, are the easiest way for me to keep a clear track of what has been completed and what is still outstanding. I am an experienced multi-tasker and can be working on many things at the same time, and I find this is the most effective way for me personally to know I’m not missing anything. It’s also satisfying to tick things off and realise you are getting somewhere, even at the times when it feels overwhelming.