My friend Margaret’s life is like a series of “I Love Lucy” episodes. The latest (and I will be brief) is hilarious but has a lesson for all of us. She works for a bank in a downtown metropolitan area and stays late at the office. Last week, she talked to her husband as she walked to the car at 11:30 pm. “Made it safely” she said. “I’ll see you in 15 minutes.” She popped in a book on tape, and accidentally redialed her husband, who heard: “if you cooperate, I won’t hurt you.” The book on tape…, but he didn’t know that. Oh, you can only imagine where the story goes from here.
At the conclusion of the story, I asked “What did you learn from this? (And the answer is not ‘giving up books on tape!’) Margaret, you should not have to work until midnight! Time management! Who and what is stealing your time? Take control.”
Easier said than done, right? How do you take control? Here are a few suggestions:
- Batch processing means that you complete all the like type of tasks at one time so your mind is in the routine. Outbound calls, tracking, observation, returning telephone calls or emails.
- Define what is urgent versus simply important. And then handle the urgent tasks first. Communication and clarity are a must when prioritizing.
- Setting aside an hour or two each day to focus on urgent or priority tasks will provide exceptional outcomes. (But you cannot be in a perpetual time lock.)
Time Managed Action Plans
- Plan out your entire week by the half hour with all of the tasks you need to complete. My personal experience is that it is emotionally and psychologically liberating. I used to make checklists but became frustrated that I couldn’t complete everything in a week. The problem…not enough hours in a week. A good plan shows you what you can, and can’t, accomplish in the time available.
Hope I didn’t take up too much of your time today, but you’ve got some ’splainin’ to do if you don’t at least try my tips.
Cynthia Whitmer Griffith is a Performance Results Network Results Consultant for Community Banks and Credit Unions at Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.