Time management is a big buzzword in today’s business world. Why? Because there is often so much to do, and so little time to go around.
You’d think that the digital age would have saved us all a lot of time, and that our work days would be about four hours long by this time. But unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Instead, the vast majority of companies are trying to cover workloads by having individuals phone calling, texting, typing and talking on the phone at all hours, long into the night or on weekends.
So how do you streamline your work process, keep your workdays from expanding, and pack everything you have to do into your 40 hour work week?
People that have looked at this closely know that there is no magic bullet for time management, but some basic guidelines can really help you to slim down your schedule and keep everything manageable when there just seems to be too much to do.
We all know that time management starts with what you write in your day planner, but not everyone understands how to schedule. Schedule meetings and appointments with ample time for whatever comes out, and then try to fit these things into that time is much as possible. Otherwise, your schedule is just fancy notebook paper. It may help to use electronic scheduling, but either way, you are responsible for controlling what happens in every one of your appointments, so that you don’t end up running hours behind.
Some of the best companies are ones that allow people to delegate responsibility well, so that too much doesn’t fall on one person’s shoulders, and so that teams can promote agile responses to difficult problems. It’s better to have some sort of round-robin on-call schedule than to feel like you might get tapped on the shoulder any time of the day or night. That’s just one aspect of how people can work together to share work. Think about this collaborative approach to save time and make the workplace schedule more manageable.
If one thing is taking way longer than it should, and it’s throwing off your schedule, then focus on that one thing. How can you keep that task short and sweet? It might have to do with limiting input or output. It might have to do with better manufacturing systems. Whatever it is, there is often a solution if you know where to look.
Too often, haywire processes just end up crashing people’s calendars because no one is really looking closely at how to put them into a neat chronological box. Have a meeting with other staff if necessary and go at it from a variety of creative angles. “We have (x) number of minutes to do this — how do we do it?”
Although new technology might have us working a lot more off the clock, there are ways to use technology for time management. That’s especially true with big data. There are multiple ways in which white collar workers who feel a time crunch can invest in different kinds of analytics, dashboards and platforms that will help them do some of the cognitive work, and can take the process and make it shorter.