SAVE TIME BY REDUCING UNNECESSARY INTERACTION WITH TECHNOLOGY

A colleague of mine faced a problem; her team, driven by mission, wanted to keep working to get their important work done but the organization could not afford to pay the overtime.

Another equally important challenge management faces today; the demand by the workforce for a greater work/life balance. How is this supposed to happen when there are not enough hours in the day to get the work done?

So how can we help our ourselves and our teams get the job done in less time, avoid overtime pay and create the time for the ‘balance’ items?

The solution, we need to be more productive! What is an easy way to be more productive?  The field of industrial engineering holds some secrets on how to accomplish this. Studies have shown if you can eliminate unnecessary interaction with technology you can save time.

Here are just three easy to implement time savers to reduce unnecessary time spent interacting with technology:

-Limit your number of key-strokes

-Limit your number of corrections

-Limit the number of repetitions

KEY-STROKES:

Today limiting the number of keystrokes isn’t just typing.  The concept includes such actions as homing (moving the hand to mouse and keyboard), clicking the mouse, pointing and mental operations (deciding what to do next). Take the time to organize your interaction. Get to what you want to as fast as possible the moment you turn your device on. Learn how to shortcut to files, websites, etc. While a bit of time is required to set up these ‘pointers,’ just do it! Milliseconds add up!

CORRECTIONS:

Just slow down and limit multi-tasking and interruptions when you need to focus on completing a sentence, doing text, etc.  Just do a simple test on the last five texts-how many times did you have to make corrections-try to eliminate having to make these corrections. It is easier and faster to get it right the first time!

REPETITION:

In the course of the day, how many times do you have to type your email address, or physical address, or other common words and phrases? Technology has auto-fill features and plug-ins you can use and shortcuts so you don’t have to type or speak an entire phrase.

Finally, when you say I just don’t have time to “learn” how to save time by reducing this unnecessary technology interaction, make the time. Set aside just even 15 minutes a week during a less than productive time of your work day and learn some new tricks by reading a blog, watching a tutorial on YouTube, doing a quick web-search or even going to the help section on your device to learn these tricks.

Do the math! If you are spending 4 hours a day interacting with your technology and you could just be even 10% more efficient you could gain 24 minutes a day. You have gained the time to get the real work done, and maybe even enough time to take a quick walk and improve that work/life balance.

 

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From buildings to parties, YOU can plan it!

Whether building a building or putting on a party using a systematic planning and execution approach will get you the results you want.

I was recently asked to chair the benefit gala for the National Repertory Orchestra. The NRO is an 88-piece orchestra composed of young musicians from all over the world who come to Colorado on full scholarships to play for the summer. The gala needs to bring in enough money to cover 15% of the annual operating budget-no small feat!

There was a pretty good list from previous years’ galas of all the things that needed to be done with due dates to start planning. Unfortunately, I was brought in pretty late in the game so the schedule needed to be severely compressed. As a newbie to gala planning and execution, I was apprehensive that we couldn’t pull it off with a much shorter time frame. In that moment of “panic” the light went off, “you have used a project management approach to build some amazing buildings so why not apply this system to throwing a party with a purpose! You can do it girl!”

I used the following six basic principles to pull off a great party that was financially rewarding.

  1. Establish the 3-4 main goals of the “project” and put them into writing.
  2. Take a list of tasks and develop it into a project management plan that includes task, start-date, due date, and responsible party as categories that you can monitor. Easy to use web-based software exists today for project management.
  3. Foster the team approach. Be clear on roles and responsibilities of team members and create easy communication methods. While much of the communication is virtual, make time for face-time (lunches, in-person team meetings, and formal and in-formal get-togethers). You need to create strong bonds with the many people involved when work needs to get done quickly.
  4. Have agendas for meetings and distribute them in advance.  Take notes and make sure to include any decisions made and future action items agreed upon.
  5. Have a very clear decision making process. With an abbreviated time-frame, decisions have to be made quickly; who has authority to make decisions should be clear to all.
  6. Decide on a revenue and expense budget (in our case we also had a net target) and monitor actuals against the budget in real-time if possible. Use the budget as you make choices (and make sure the budget has a contingency to cover the unexpected).

Of course just like a finished building not everything is “perfect” but using a systematic approach to planning and execution makes for a great (and profitable) party! Think about using a project management approach for your next event!

3 Keys to Relieving Exhaustion – TACTICS

THINK | TEAM | TACTICS

 

Technology is your friend if you use it correctly. Many of us have scheduling tools, project planning tools, and dash boards that accumulate meaningful statistics. However, we may not be aware of how to use them to be our productive best. At the University we were looking for new ways to increase revenue and/or make serious budget cuts to balance the budget. I had to design a decision making process that the community felt was fair, or the likelihood of being successful either raising revenue or cutting expenses was slim without buy-in from stakeholders. We used technology effectively in two ways: 1) securing time for me to design a decision making process and 2) developing an on-line easy-to-share decision making tool. In the first case, my staff used Outlook to block time for me to design the process. I set aside time during my highest productivity time of the day. The staff were masters at this time blocking and they also tactfully halted interrupters—referred to in the literature as TIME BANDITS! In the second case, IT met with us and using off-the-shelf technology developed a shared document method and on-line voting system that everyone agreed prioritized the tough choices that had to be made in a fair manner. I would normally have had to spend time “convincing” everyone about the actions to take, so this was such a time saver. These technology TACTICS worked!

 

Think a minute about your current framework for work and how you are managing your TACTICS role. For me, being able to organize my executive work using technology yielded great results. I was doing the right things, at the right time, in the right way!

 

For more information on Doing the Right Things Right: How

the Effective Executive Spends Time by Laura Stack

http://theproductivitypro.com/books/

© 2016 Laura Stack.  Used with Permission. www.TheProductivityPro.com

3 Keys to Relieving Exhaustion – TEAM

THINK | TEAM | TACTICS

 

Laura Stack, one of the world’s leading productivity experts, has developed rich content that lays out a framework for being your productive best. I’m going to address one of the points she covers in her most recent book, “Doing the Right Things Right, How the Effective Executive Spends Time” and share examples from my own personal executive experience. Incorporating TEAM principles and practices in daily work can make the difference for you and your organization. It certainly does for me!

 

You may be leading a team(s), department(s), division(s), or a company or only acting occasionally as a team- lead, but how efficiently and effectively you lead those teams is another important category of your work. In running the facilities department of a major hospital, I learned a valuable lesson about team-work. My action item: delegate. With 8 divisions and over 200 staff that worked 24/7, I learned very quickly I couldn’t manage them all. This was made crystal clear by the engineering department. These experts managed the heating and air conditioning controls for the hospital. I had to rely on the division head to manage this critical function as I didn’t have the technical knowledge and skills to prevent a disaster if the controls went haywire and temperatures rose into the 90’s, threatening patient safety. The division head and team members knew how to solve the problem. My job was to make the compelling case to get the necessary resources for the team to accomplish what was their own tasks and goals. By clearly delegating this management function and letting the team of engineers know that the manager was in charge, and that my roles was champion and fighter for resources, things got done right. I saved many hours by not having to attend routine staff meetings. As a side benefit, I gained a great deal of loyalty and respect of the team (i.e., she is not micro managing and she trusts us). P.S., I also secured the necessary funding! Take the time to clearly define your role and other team members’ roles so you are comfortable delegating for the most effective and efficient TEAM!

 

For more information on Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time by Laura Stack

http://theproductivitypro.com/books/

© 2016 Laura Stack.  Used with Permission. www.TheProductivityPro.com

3 Keys to Relieving Exhaustion – THINK

THINK | TEAM | TACTICS

 

As a busy executive, I constantly ask myself: Hasn’t there got to be a way to get everything done without working until I’m mentally and physically exhausted? It is a great relief to have discovered a framework for effectively planning and productivity improvement. I’ve become a Certified Productivity Pro® Consultant and now have in-depth knowledge of a framework for getting things done on target, on time, and in budget.

 

As an executive, I was responsible for developing the organization’s strategic plan. I thought I could just shoehorn this longer-term activity into day-to-day operations. Not so! Any initiative of this magnitude requires spending quality time and effort actively engaged in the planning process. The plan can’t be developed in a vacuum (you and a small leadership group) or it is destined to sit on a shelf. Goals that are actionable must be set, and this takes stakeholder engagement. Part of your THINK role is not only to be actively engaged in developing the plan, but to create the culture of engagement so goals are realistic and align with operations. This requires community participation. You and other executives must facilitate broad participation. A communication strategy is a must. Think about how you will set aside time and effort to THINK! My action item: Reprioritize what time and attention I give to TEAM and TACTICS and spend more time on THINK.

 

For more information on Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time by Laura Stack

http://theproductivitypro.com/books/

© 2016 Laura Stack.  Used with Permission. www.TheProductivityPro.com