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TIME MANAGEMENT OR TASK MANAGEMENT

Throughout my career I, probably like you, have attended many workshops, read books or watched presentations regarding Time Management.

I’ve been taught things such as:

  • Handle a piece of information only once
  • Don’t have an ‘In’ tray on your desk as things will pile up and you won’t get to them
  • Set goals and stick to them
  • Make a ‘to do’ list
  • Prioritise etc., etc.

Needless to say, some of these worked for a while for me but then I was back to being time poor.  The irony of it is, I used to teach Time Management in Management Courses but I couldn’t practice what I preached…

So, I knew things had to change.

That’s when I discovered Task Management about 12 months ago, I can’t remember where I was enlightened; if someone told me about it or I read it somewhere but it’s been a tool that has finally worked for me.

Here’s how I now manage my day.

I use Outlook for my e-mail and when I switch my computer on in the morning the first thing that pops up when I open Outlook used to be my mail.  I’d sit there and go through things and begin work answering e-mails which usually lead onto other things and before the morning was over I was doing something completely different to what I had planned.  Why?  Because someone what either said ‘URGENT’ or I thought I could knock this task off quickly.  Needless to say my ‘To Do’ list just grew! Yes, I ‘sort’ of had a To Do list but believe me, it wasn’t very successful.

Now, when I open up Outlook the first thing that pops up is not my Mail but my Tasks.  If you are not sure how to set this up then here’s the path.

  • Open Outlook and go to the top left hand corner and click on File.
  • A screen will open titled Account Information.
  • There is a column on the left hand side that says Info, Open, Print, Help, Options and Exit.
  • Click on Options and a pop up box will open.
  • It too will have a left hand column which starts with General.
  • Click on Advanced
  • Another pop up window will open and you should see sections that begin with Outlook Panes, Outlook Start and Exit, Auto Archive etc.
  • Go to Outlook start and exit and click the Browse button next to the box attached to ‘Start Outlook in this folder:
  • Click on Tasks then click OK down the bottom of the pane.
  • From here on in, when you open Outlook you will firstly see your Tasks before your mail.

Now it’s open, what do you do?

The first thing I do is look at any tasks that are open and see where I am up to on those.  I have set a Due Date on each task so I know if I am on track with my work.  If any are due shortly I will work on those.  This is done BEFORE I even open my mail.

Once I’m satisfied I have time I will open my mail and begin reading.  If a Task comes from the mail, even replying to someone, I will make it a task.

NOTE:  You may get many e-mails saying URGENT and that’s where prioritisation sometimes becomes difficult.  I’ve learnt to e-mail back the sender and ask “How Urgent is your task because I have four other URGENTs on my list today and I may not get to yours”.  This will warrant one of two responses from them.  Either, “Well not that urgent you can do it tomorrow if that helps” or “It must be done today”.  I used to sweat it then wondering how I would fit it in until I replied with “John Smith from HR and Joan Brown from purchasing also have urgent tasks for me today, could you contact them and see if one of them will move their Urgent task to fit in yours”?  You will be surprised by the response.  If they won’t do it then e-mail them as a group and let them know your dilemma.

To do this, go back into your Tasks page.  In the top left hand corner you will see a box that says New Task.

In your subject time type what you need to do e.g. Reply to John Smiths E-mail dated 28 Feb 2018.

Start date will be the day you are creating the task and Due Date will be dictated by his request.  For example he may say can you get back to me by the end of the week with information…..  I place the due date in the box.  Status would be Not Started because I’m just setting up the Task.  Priority is usually Normal unless you believe it is Urgent.  In the blank space remaining I usually copy then paste the request in here so I know what has to be done and hit Save & Close.  If you go back to your main Tasks page it will show up there.

As I work on a task I will attach any e-mails I have received or sent to the recipient.  This also means if something goes missing, I have everything on hand or if they say they haven’t receive anything I can quickly go to the task and open documents with dates on them.  It means I don’t have to go through my In and Sent boxes in Outlook Mail to see where things might be.  Once you start the task change the Status from Not Started to In Progress and once completed change it to Completed.

It may sound a little complicated at first but after less than a week I was in the habit of doing it and I’ve not missed a deadline or task since.  It really works for me, I’d be interested to know if you think it could work for you or if you try it how you found it.

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Here’s another Great article from AHRI.COM.AU

TITLED – 5 Ridiculously Simple ways to improve employee happiness. It was written by Emma Udorovic and Bree Pagliuso on March 2, 2017

Workplaces around the globe constantly work to at keeping good talent in-house. But beyond providing them with an environment where they can excel professionally, keeping employees is not complicated; make them happy. But what’s the best way to promote employee happiness?

Just because it’s uncomplicated that doesn’t mean it’s not daunting. So, how do you as an HR professional retain good talent? Here’s 5 simple tips to create a ‘fresh start’ within your existing workplace.

1. Refresh your workspace

Try changing the position of staff desks to face the windows. Natural light will enhance mood and create a more spacious feel to the office.

A recent study in the US found that office workers with more natural light exposure at the office had longer sleep duration, better sleep quality, more physical activity and better quality of life compared to office workers with less light exposure in the workplace.

Create small task group dedicated to organising and cleaning up any messy files, books and any other items that have been lying around for years. A clear environment will create clear minds.

Place a few green plants around the office. Research shows that just one plant per workspace can provide an ample lift in staff’s emotional state and improve employee happiness.

2. Encourage staff to walk, bike or take public transport into work.

Turn the commute into a positive experience. Whether it’s incidental exercise, known to boost serotonin levels, or a bus ride where they can indulge in reading a good book or listening to an inspiring podcast. Not only will they be doing good things for the environment, they are also having some important ‘me time’.

3. Get staff outside during the day.

Schedule a group time-out. Pick a five minute time-slot in the morning and afternoon for everyone to get away from their desk, to go outside and socialise with each other, and enjoy the fresh air! Walking meetings are a great way to achieve this too.

4. Encourage staff to learn something new

To boost employee happiness, choose a day of the month to gather staff for an on-site ‘Lunch and Learn’. Allow team members to present on a health & wellbeing topic they’re interested in or call in a professional to run a cooking class or a presentation on mindfulness.

5. Introduce a meditation zone.

You’ve probably heard about this before, but that’s because it works! Awareness about the benefits of mindfulness meditation is growing, and it’s becoming an increasingly popular treatment for anxiety. However, testing its effectiveness in a convincing way has traditionally been difficult.

This year, a new clinical trial has found that mindfulness meditation combats anxiety and stress. It’s also been found to improve creative thinking.

Having a dedicated space for staff to meditate gives them a few moments out of each day to recharge and mindfully connect. It also relieves stress, an inevitable part of any workplace. Showing staff that the company supports them in their mental health is a positive way to help them feel valued and increase employee happiness.

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3 REASONS YOU SHOULD STOP WORKING AND RELAX MORE

An article in this weeks UK Management today explains how workaholics miss the value – and the point – of rest. Written by Adam Gale.

Work-life balance is so 1995. Ask the modern executive what their balance (or worse, blend) is and they’ll tell you it’s a false dichotomy. Work is part of life, duh.

It would be wrong to see the concept as irrelevant, however. Clearly it still matters what role work plays within your life, and you can’t understand that without knowing what you’re sacrificing with every extra hour’s slog at the office: the opposite of work is not life, but rest.

It may sound semantic, but the difference between work-life and work-rest is an important one. Far more so than life, rest has connotations of laziness in our workaholic culture. To a lot of people, time spent resting is wasted time – but they are wrong.

Rest is overdue a change in image. It was long associated with substantial, positive benefits that are only now being rediscovered through neuroscience and psychology.

1. REST MAKES YOU MORE PRODUCTIVE

‘The balance between work and rest tends to be disregarded because of thinking that says the more you work, the more you achieve,’ says business change consultant Chris Pearse. But as he points out, this clearly isn’t true. Economists will tell you that productivity declines after around 20 hours a week. Partly this is because the more valuable things get done first, but partly it’s because we just run out of mental energy.

Indeed, various forms of rest serve different functions that can improve the quality of our work. Sleep, for instance, doesn’t just keep you alive. If you needed another reason to get an extra 40 winks, it also prevents the productivity-sapping errors and impaired judgement that tiredness brings.

Having a few 5pm drinks down the pub with your colleagues may seem like knocking off early, meanwhile, but it will help you build the relationships that make organisations run smoothly. Even those long, lazy TV Sundays can serve a purpose: by helping you recover from the stress of your job, it can help protect your mental health.

Pearse is particularly keen on what he calls conscious rest – that is, the form of rest that involves focusing on undemanding, repetitive tasks. Mindfulness, meditation, prayer, cooking and actively listening to music all fall into this category.

‘This kind of rest can be extremely powerful for some people. It can reduce the amount of sleep they need, and it helps the focus and efficiency of their work phase,’ he says.

2. REST MAKES YOU MORE CREATIVE

Have you ever worked at a problem, toiling away for days to no avail, only for the solution to drop into your lap while you’re in the shower or staring out of the train window? Or ever sat down and tried to have a great idea, only for it to emerge fully formed while you’re cleaning the sink?

We look at that as being some kind of divine inspiration, but there’s a long history of associating rest with deep thinking. ‘In ancient and medieval Europe, philosophers argued that the exercise of pure reason was not enough to make sense of the world,’ writes Silicon Valley consultant Alex Soojung-Kim Pang in his book Rest: Why you can get more done when you work less.

Knowledge, Pang says, was considered to come from a combination of ratio (logical and discursive methods) and intellectus (contemplative practices and attitudes). These days, we’re big on the former but short on the latter.

Yet consider some of history’s great thinkers, from Newton in his orchard to Crick and Watson figuring out DNA in a Cambridge pub, and you’ll find less is often more when it comes to great ideas.

There’s modern science behind this too. Neuroscientists now know that the resting brain is not inactive. Instead, when you stop focusing on a conscious task, it merely activates a different part of the brain, the Default Mode Network (DMN), which is heavily associated with creativity, making sense of memories and preparing for future problems.

‘The DMNs of creative people have stronger connections between areas associated with functional abilities like verbal acuity, visual skill and memory, connections that allow their brains to keep working on problems while in the resting state,’ Pang says.

3. REST MAKES LIFE MORE MEANINGFUL

‘If work generates achievement, it’s rest that’s responsible for meaning,’ says Pearse. A lot of people would say that their work – the challenge, the common struggle, the achievement – gives their life meaning. A lot of other people find it in family, friends, travel, volunteering or hobbies.

Here more than anywhere else, our individuality comes into it: meaning is a very personal thing.

But if nothing else, rest gives you the time and context to make sense of your work. Climbing a mountain is a great, meaningful achievement, but few would labour to reach the summit and then not allow themselves a few moments to enjoy the view.

Unfortunately, few of us work in environments where taking time to enjoy the view for the sake of ‘meaning’ is openly acceptable. For all the talk of liberated organisations and empowered workforces, mostly there is still an expectation to be seen to be working, especially when the company’s under pressure.

It’s a hard sell, telling your manager that you’ll be more productive and more creative if you take two- hour mid-afternoon naps and leave meetings for impromptu daydreaming sessions. But ultimately those organisations that understand the intrinsic value of rest will get more out of their employees – and those employees will get more out of work and life. So take it easy.

 

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Staff Retention

In February’s HR Monthly there is an article called “Barring the Exit”. [page 9] It’s concerning motivation of employees.
I think we all agree that money is not the main motivation for our staff to stay where they are this article also confirms that and introduces other theories.
The article discusses a Staff Retention Report from AIM which revealed that more and more businesses are worried about keeping the employees they have and invested in.
In 2015 48.6 per cent worried about this while in 2017 it’s 54.6 percent.
Included in the survey was that four out of five employees told AIM they were unhappy at work.
The top motive for staff wanting to move on – seeking a new challenge; better training and development opportunities and improved recognition in a role.
Considering we spend about one third of our working-age lives at work it’s vital we understand what our staff desire for them to enjoy and stay with us. Our staff are our assets don’t think of them as just a resource!

How to Future Proof yourself

I’ve been reading an article this morning which got me thinking.  It stated “It’s impossible to future proof your job but you can future proof your career”.

If you believe this, as I do, how can you do this?  As an educator I’ve always told my clients/students that what you gain from education is skills and knowledge.  It doesn’t matter who pays for this education, you or your employer; the skills and knowledge you have gained from this education belong to you not your employer or whoever paid for the education.  Use that to your advantage.

Roles disappear and new ones emerge.  We all have heard that the jobs of the future haven’t even been invented yet so how do we future proof ourselves?

Use Change to your advantage.  Change is nothing to be afraid of if you understand it.  The dictionary acknowledges change as ‘an act or process through which something becomes different’.  I’ve worked in and helped many organisations change but this has never been done in isolation.  Consultation with people who may be affected by the change always occurs and it gives staff a great opportunity to upskill and become part of the new organisation.

Up-skill whenever possible.What do I mean by this? Enhance or grow the skills you have.  It doesn’t mean undertaking a four year degree, it’s as easy as reading articles about the type of work you do and see what’s happening out there.  If you are in Finance for example are the large corporations changing to a new model?  If so, even though your company hasn’t done so, what harm will it do for you to read up on this new model and, if it was implemented in your workplace, how would you deal with it?  Do you need new skills to fit into the new model?  Don’t wait, take the initiative and learn!  Grow your Network!Outside your comfort zone. Some of this may be outside your comfort zone but, take a deep breath, close your eyes and jump in.  You might be surprised how comfortable you do feel and what an advantage you have gained by jumping in.  Taking the initiative to look towards your future career is your advantage but it may be an advantage to your employer as well.  Having an employee who wants to keep ahead of the game is someone an employee wants to keep, wants to nurture, and if you’re lucky, wants to promote.

Don’t be afraid, future proof yourself now.  Who knows, you may jump right out of your comfort zone into a new career!

Don’t forget; always reward yourself for a job well done.  J

 

Reference: How to future proof your career was an article written by  Michelle Gibbings from the SMH yesterday.  Michelle is a change leadership and career expert and founder of Change Meridian.

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Respect.

We all know about teamwork and how a great team can make or break a business, especially a small  one.  We’ve learnt about Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing in teams but what about Respect!

As Leaders we seek respect from our team and colleagues but we also know we have to earn that respect.  Earn Respect, what does that actually mean? You can google it and come up with lots of explanations on the internet but what does being respected actually look like?

For me it’s knowing that when I ask something of my staff they don’t ask “Why are we doing that” because they know I have researched what needs to be done for my business and am not just asking them to do something to waste time.  Now, I just said ‘My Business’, really it’s everyone’s business that works there.  They input, they help drive business, they are ‘usually’ the first face of the business and you, the leader/owner, pay the bills, pay them and get work.

Respect for me is knowing I’ve done the best job possible, that I treat everyone equally and fairly. I admit when a task is  not my strong point and know what I’m good at.   I’m confident in what I do and what decisions I make.  I think of others before making a decision and if the hard decisions have to be made, my staff know it’s for one reason and one reason only, the business needs it to happen or not to happen.

Some people think that to earn respect you have to be everyone’s ‘buddy’.  Personally I think that makes things harder for you.  Remember Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats?

De Bono’s Black Hat for example is for  judgment — the devil’s advocate or why something may not work and his Blue Hat is used to manage the thinking process.  I sometime imagine there is a  Grey or Dark Blue hat that I can use.  I tell my staff about De Bono because it makes it easy to move from that ‘buddy’ mentality to a ‘leader’ and everyone knows I mean what I say. They know I’m not talking for the sake of talking and that something needs to happen.  I do say to them, “I need to put my Business Hat on now” and they know not to take things personally because I’m talking about a task not the person.  It takes away any personal reference and states a fact.  Leaders deal in facts to run a successful business.

Respect also goes two ways, not only do you want your staff to respect you as a leader but you should respect them as well.  Like you they have to earn it but give them a chance to earn respect.  Listen to what they have to say, ideas they come up with, changes that they think would be good for ‘their’ business.  If you are a good leader these things will come naturally for you because you staff know if you have a successful business, they will also be successful.

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What do you want to be known for?

I’ve just been given a revised copy of a book by Daniel Priestley called ‘Key Person of Influence”.  I have just opened the cover and a few words struck me. They are “Don’t be known by your name, be known by what YOU want to be known FOR”.

I’ve been thinking about this ever since. What do I want to be known for, and have come up with something that reads more like my Values .

  1. I want to be known for my knowledge in the field of business but I don’t want to be known for being a ‘know it all’ that won’t listen to suggestions or try new things.
  2. I want to be known for my attention to detail in regard to quality in all that I do but I don’t want to be known as being pedantic.
  3. I want to be known as a good net-worker that through networking can help others and put like minded people in touch with one another.  I don’t want to be know as a ‘user’ .
  4. I want to be known as a good coach who can guide you throughout your business life and watch you grow as an individual and grow your business. I don’t want to be known as someone who tells you how it should be done or my way or the highway.
  5. I want to be trusted.  I think trust, like Respect that I wrote of in my past Blog is a huge thing to have in not only the business world but in life.  I don’t want  people to say ‘Don’t tell her, she can’t be trusted”.

I’d love to hear what you want to be known for!