Back to Back Issues Page
Work Smarter #33: Office Time Management
December 02, 2010

Courses |  Books   |   Software  |  Franklin Covey  |  Tools

Hi, Kell here!

Welcome to the Work Smarter Not Harder Newsletter #33.

Work can be stressful.

With information overload, hundreds of emails every day, crunching deadlines, and a changing business environment, it can be hard to focus on your high impact activities.

Here we provide four office time management tips and action exercises that you can use to improve your personal productivity and organization. These include:

Each of them take a little time to learn and master but they will pay you back in increased productivity and effectiveness for the rest of your life.

1. What are your key result areas?

Do you know your job role?

Do you know how your manager is assessing your performance?

If not, then you need to find out.

Knowing your key performance indicators is important for two reasons:

  1. Gives you clarification of your high impact activities

  2. Allows you to prioritize incoming information against your objectives.

Once you have a clear idea of how your performance is being measured you can try these action exercises.

Action exercises

  1. Identify how each task you do is related to your key result areas. If it is not related then question why you are doing this.

  2. Prioritize your tasks with the pareto principle.

  3. Write down your prioritized tasks and schedule them in your daily planner or software system.

    Personally if I am using a planner I like to use the Franklin Covey Planners. But the important thing is to get the tasks out of your head and onto paper.

Question needing an answer

Question from Margaret:
I use the ABC method to prioritize my tasks in my to do list, where A is important, B tasks are of secondary importance, and C tasks are unimportant.

Are there other methods that people use to prioritize there tasks as this is not really working for me.

You can help Margaret out here

2. Focus on your high impact activities

Now that you have a clear idea of your key result areas and know how your manager is measuring your progress your personal productivity can be increased by focusing on your top priorities.

This is the best investment of your time!

But email, phone calls, interruptions....all are competing for your attention and have the potential to pull you off your focus.

Did you know that every time you are distracted from your priorities that it can take several minutes to regain focus again?

Minimizing your distractions dramatically improves your office time management.

If you increase your time on your high impact activities by 5% you will notice increased productivity and less work stress.

Action exercises

  1. Did you know that an analysis of 500,000 PC hours highlighted that workers access emails 50 times a day and social networking sites over 70 times a day. Turn off email notification and see if you can check your email three times a day.

    Here are some email etiquette tips to increase productivity.

  2. Schedule your high impact activities into your planner. These ideas on developing your time management schedule may be beneficial.

  3. Download time keeping software that runs in the background and jots down the tasks you do and the time you take. This is great tool for planning and getting an idea of how much time you spend on your high impact activities.

Question needing an answer

Question from Jay:
I have used many different types of planners to schedule my time but nothing seems to work for me. Could you please tell me what planner you use and how it has benefited you.

If you have personal experience with this please help Jay here.

3. Organize yourself

The Wall Street Journal published a research article that mentioned that the average worker spends 6 weeks searching for documents they already have in the filing cabinets, email and desktop folders, or on their desk.

Thus you can increase your effectiveness by reducing this search time.

Action exercises

  1. If you desk resembles a disaster area then you could reduce your search time with these tips for how to organize your desk.

  2. Did you know that the average worker searches through 4 files to get to the file they actually need. Search time could be reduced by organizing files effectively. Here are some tips to organize files.

  3. About 20% of the workforce spends some time working from home or outside of the office. This figure is predicted to rise!

    These tips for home office organization may be beneficial.

4. Get specific about your next action

When I work with elite athletes I spend alot of time to identify the specific steps and the next actions to achieve a goal.

Similarly as a time management consultant I spend time in offices clarifying the next action.

Whether it is a large work project or organizing a meeting, identifying the next action moves you towards your goal.

The other day I had a client whose next action was to "To train the sales team".

This actually has several actions in it before the sales team can be trained.

Such as booking the room, identifying the skills gap, sending out the schedule, and so forth.

The productivity guru David Allen talks about getting specific for your next action in Getting Things Done.

Action exercise

Look at your to do list and see if you can identify the next specific action that you need to take.

Try to schedule that next specific action in your planner.

To all of our subscribers, please let us know your comments, views or feedback so that we can improve our site for our most valuable resource


All the best,

Dr Kell and the team at Effective Time Management Strategies wish you all the best.

Back to Back Issues Page