Casual Fridays: Get your schedule under control

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By Tim Lawlor

Associate publisher, Ottawa Construction News

As we at the Ottawa Construction News prepare to send the October 2013 issue to print, I have to reflect on this month’s activities. You see, this will be one of the largest issues that we have produced in quite some time and, yes, there are (as always) some last-minute production issues, but in all – and considering this issue is so large – things went relatively smoothly. Yet months ago, with a much smaller issue, things went drastically off track, we ran late and everyone was scrambling to get it finished.

So what was the difference? Why did more work take less effort and was less stress filled?

The secret (in my opinion) was better time and resource management and according to Eileen Chadnick, principal and certified coach with Big Cheese Coaching (bigcheesecoaching.com) in Toronto, when you manage your time well, your work performance and your well-being improve, with more efficiency and energy.    Good time management at the office can make you feel better both professionally and personally. Time is a resource we can never get back.

Eileen suggests that you follow these tips to make the most of your daily schedule:

Make lists
Jot down the tasks you have to accomplish for the day to help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Chadnick recommends finding a system that works for you. For example, you might have separate lists for things that need to be done by the day, by the week or by the month. As well, you might keep your lists on a computer, a notebook or even scrap pieces of paper.

What is important is that you write it all out so you don’t have a jumble of tasks in your head, she says, which can cause you to feel anxious or frazzled.

Review your tasks regularly
Get into the habit of checking your lists throughout the day, Chadnick says, to make sure everything that has to get done is being taken care of.

By checking and updating your lists, she says, you will feel more organized and you’ll be more focused in your work.

Leave some “wiggle” room
Something unexpected will always happen to disrupt your day, so it’s important to be flexible.

Leave yourself some “wiggle” room in the schedule, Chadnick says. For example, your timetable should be flexible enough to allow you to move something to tomorrow’s to-do list, or to allow for an unexpected phone call or request from a client.

Space out your meetings
Don’t jam-pack your day. Give yourself a little time between meetings.

“People don’t honour their schedules,” Chadnick says. “They see white space and they think it’s there to be filled up.” Instead, she says, leave at least a few minutes between meetings and tasks, for you to prepare for what you need to do next.

Delegate some time management
Work with your assistant closely to keep your daily schedule under control.

Give your assistant the authority to set and manage your schedule, says Catherine Nomura, director of business development with Strategic Coach in San Francisco. Let your assistant know what your priorities are and what tasks or meetings can be re-scheduled.

And finally I would add:

Make time…. Delegate tasks, seek untapped resources

Do not try and do everything yourself. Most companies have highly effective staff, so work with your assistant or administration team to to see which tasks could be reassigned or better managed by someone else, allowing you to focus your time and efforts on more more important and revenue-producing or cost-cutting tasks.

            Tim Lawlor is a co-ordinating publisher at the Construction New and Report Group. To contact Tim and add to his stress level and help fill his free time you can reach him at the Ottawa Construction News by emailing him at tlawlor@cnrgp.com or calling 613022403460 ext. 111. He would be happy to add you to his “to-do” list.

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