How To Spend Your Time … EVALUATE!

Time Management CourseA few days ago, I reviewed a saved article that was written by Josh Patrick of Stage 2 Planning Partners.

This article encouraged me to think about the entire philosophy surrounding time management. In much of my own experience and writings about the topic, I was reminded of a statement that I can’t remember hearing: I have too much time.”

Here is the concern that I have. We have probably had the opportunity to try or experiment with various techniques to try to use our limited time to the best advantage. Some of these techniques have worked well for us for various periods of time. My concern is that, as our positions, location, responsibilities, bosses, team and members change, we may need to reevaluate some of our “go to” time management techniques.

So, with that in mind, it may be helpful to reevaluate whether or not we need to reexamine the deployment of our time management techniques. Here are a few that could pay big dividends:

Examine your StatisticsOver time, we may have a favorite technique to get us through a rough patch. For example, we know that we can authorize overtime to get the shipments out, process the order, repair the machinery, utilize borrowed staff, obtain temporary employees, etc. However, we should ensure that our reaction is based on the actual problems we face now, rather the assumption that, these solutions or techniques, worked the last time we faced similar issues. The key point is that if the underlying issues of a particular problem are different now, the “go to” technique may not be the most effective solution. So, make sure that your current evaluation of the situation is based on solid research and factual data.

Quality ControlOne hazard or trap that we could encounter is that “haste makes waste.” It is possible when you reassign tasks, bring in temporary help or authorize overtime, the quality of the product may suffer. Many studies have suggested that after a certain number of hours worked, a team members’ efficiency and productivity may decline. In a crunch, you will have to do what you have to. But the overarching concern is to ensure that your process is efficient, properly staffed and allows for contingencies. Your cost efficiencies can take a big hit if the work has to be scrapped or returned from the customer because quality standards were not met. The goal is to avoid mistakes.

SuggestionsThis is the oldest rule in the book: Ask your team members for their suggestions. It is possible that over a period of time, minor changes occur that may not come to your attention and the new considerations do not become a part of your normal operating procedures.  For example, what happens when an account can no longer take deliveries until later in the day, but the control documents have not been changed? It is possible that time spent on an order that cannot be accepted until 4:00 p.m. may consume time that can be devoted to orders that can be accepted earlier. I think that you get the drift, so you may have to apply the theory to the type of operation, in which you function.

It requires constant diligence to ensure that we don’t waste our time or the time of our team members. The primary goal, as suggested by Steven Covey, is to do the things that are important rather than merely urgent. It is also helpful for a team leader to pose this question to themselves: Is there anything I can do to make my team more effective and efficient? Team members who feel that their time is effectively used will generally be happier and feel more appreciated. Team members in this modality are generally more productive, as well.

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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