Saturday, September 22, 2007

Stressless Saturday: Stop Wasting Time

1. Procrastination
I used to say that my house was never cleaner than when I had a paper to write in grad school. Procrastination wastes time because we do all kinds of other things instead of what we should be doing!

2. Telephone, E-mail & Mail
The telephone is for your convenience…not for everyone else’s convenience! You don’t have to answer the phone every time it rings. It is okay to screen your calls and even turn your phone off when you are in the middle of doing something important. Filter your e-mails…and don’t even open the ones you know are junk. Stand over the garbage can when you open your mail...and opt out of mailing lists if possible.

3. Meetings
There are companies that use meeting cost clocks to determine how much a staff meeting costs in terms of combined salaries. Meetings without specific agendas are usually not productive…and almost 1/3 of the time spent in meeting is wasted because of a lack of good meeting management. Wasted time costs money…and causes extra stress.

4. Paperwork
I just read something about paperwork today on Check out Gretchen Rubin at The Happiness Project. “You know those little notes you write to yourself? The phone numbers, the URLs, the “call John Doe” reminder, the quick “don’t forget” notes…all those nagging loose ends that clutter the paper surfaces of a desk?

I used to scribble down quick notes to myself on whatever piece of paper that was lying around. This caused problems for several reasons: later, I couldn’t find what information I needed; I often couldn’t read my writing or figure out what a note meant; and often I accidentally tossed something I needed, or was reluctant to toss a note because I didn’t know if I needed it.

Now I have a “scratch paper for the day.” I keep a pad of paper by the phone, and anytime I have the urge to make a note to myself, I discipline myself only to use that pad of paper.

At the end of the day, I toss the piece of paper, after copying anything I need to keep.

I’m amazed at how much difference it has made in my sense of order. I’m not surrounded by illegible scribbles that may or may not be critically important.”

5. Space Setup
Having easy access to the things you use everyday seems like a no-brainer, but many times our space is set up in a way that makes us waste time. I realized this for myself one day when I was printing envelopes. With my printer I can only do one envelope at a time. The printer was on the right side of my desk and the envelopes were on a shelf at the top of the left side. So, every time I went to print an envelope I reached up to the left and down to the right…you get the picture. Since I don’t really think of office work as exercise, I thought it might save some time to put an under shelf basket directly over the printer for the envelopes. Although I still have to feed them one at a time, there is no more stretching, and I’m sure it saves some time!

6. Not Delegating
Delegation is a necessity in managing time. We often think that we can do the work better than anyone else, so we hold onto tasks that someone else really should be doing. We stretch ourselves so thin that we are only giving 60% or 70% to any one task. In reality, if we can delegate it to someone else, they will probably do a better job even if they don’t give it their all!

7. Interruptions
Have you ever had one of those days when everyone stops by your desk and says, “Do you have a minute?” The definition of interruption is “To stop or hinder by breaking in. To break in upon an action. To break in with questions or remarks while another is speaking." Webster, 1995 Interruptions waste time because they cause us to shift our focus from the task at hand. It is not just the interruption that steals time, but the time it takes to refocus and get restarted. Try to work in an area where you are not likely to be disturbed. Shut your door, turn off your phone, turn off the television, put a do-not-disturb sign on the doorknob.

1 comment:

Donetta said...

The single sheet of paper per day is a good one to return too. I am getting to many loose tabs.