People - Top Tips - Personal Organisation
This document is designed as a quick reference guide to Personal
This will enable you to gain knowledge of a particular skill, task or process in the workplace. This means you can quickly find the key information that you need and refer to it on an ongoing basis whenever you need to refresh your knowledge.
In a fast moving retail business, it’s very human to simply react to whatever comes through the door, and not do any planning. However, at the end of the day, you may feel you’ve achieved nothing. Although you need to have the freedom to react to the unexpected, an amount of planning is essential in order to achieve the tasks necessary on a day by day and long term basis.
Remember…’if you don’t know where you’re going, how can you hope to get there?’
People - Top Tips - Personal Organisation
● Prioritise all your tasks and decide whether they are urgent, important, or both. Are they necessary? Should you be doing them yourself? Are you doing them as efficiently as possible?
● Plan the long term first; periods before weeks before days. This helps you fit shorter tasks in around known commitments, and avoids crises looming up unexpectedly. It will also help define the Time element when you set yourself SMART objectives.
● Use a diary to note down and allocate time for tasks, meetings, phone calls, etc. Block out time to prepare
● Keep a ‘To do’ list either in your diary or as a separate pad. Cross out or tick off tasks as you complete them, and as well as being very satisfying, this will give you an immediate update of how your day is progressing against target. Listing tasks does not mean that you are going to do them yourself; you may choose to delegate them.
● Review what you have achieved at the end of the day, prepare your ‘To do’ list for the next day, and carry forward anything not done.
● List ‘To do - long term’ items, otherwise you may lose sight of your week or period; to avoid this you may want to have another sheet for items that are important but not yet urgent.
● When estimating time a task will take to compete, add 20% margin for error, frustration, interruptions etc., and when planning times to do tasks, consider your personal energy cycle. You will find it more efficient to batch tasks, i.e. to group together tasks of a similar nature such as reading updates, replying to memos, or making phone calls.
● 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort, so learn to recognise this and act on it accordingly. However the reverse is also true, so recognise also where effort is being wasted on producing nothing, and act on that too. Plan to work smarter, not harder!
● Consider contingency planning. What would you do if a key team member went off sick or left – who would do that person’s work? What if a particular delivery failed to arrive – how would you profitably use the time and people arranged to handle it? How will you cope when it arrives?
A typical person’s energy curve peaks in the morning, dives at lunchtime, and revives briefly in the afternoon. This may change where a pattern of particularly early or late living has been established such as in regular shift work, but only the times will change, not the pattern. You may know instinctively which your best part of the day is, or you may be able to tell by the quantity or quality of work you produce. There is also a peak later in the evening, which is why you can have an exhausting day yet still manage to go out socially!
● Most people find they can achieve a greater quantity of work in the morning and a better quality of creative work in the afternoon. Keep the reading pile for lunchtime or commuting time when energy is low.
● Don't plan to take work home in the evening, particularly if it needs concentration. You are likely to be tired, distracted and interrupted, and if you do the task at all, it will probably not be to your usual daytime standard. It will also interfere with your family or social life, and you will rapidly resent this.
● Make use of ‘down time’. If you commute by public transport, consider using this time to read trade press and similar ‘for information’ - but not confidential - items. Even if you drive, this is valuable ‘thinking time’ to yourself where you cannot be interrupted.
People - Top Tips - Personal Organisation
Planning Your Day
As soon as you arrive at work or last thing at night, whichever is likely to work best for you, set aside fifteen minutes for the following exercise?
● Decide what tasks you want to address and put those files (papers) and those files only relevant to the tasks on your desk for the next day.
There are a number of techniques available to ensure that this occurs.
One you may wish to try is a personal re-submission system. This will mean that at the end of the day your desk is free of files. Everything is in its place and nothing can be overlooked. This will take a little more change and a lot of commitment.
A word of caution: Decide your daily commitment schedule keeping in mind that you will be interrupted during the day. Plan for these interruptions. Do not try to 'account' for your whole working day with the tasks you select. Under commitment leads to over achievement!
● Divide the tasks into two categories
1. Those, on which you might have to spend some significant time, say, a quarter hour or more.
2. Those which require cursory attention
● Decide the order in which you will address the category (A) tasks.
Leave the most intellectually stimulating, and interesting, to last. This will have a strong motivating effect on productivity.
● Decide how much time you will spend on each task in category (A).
Do this quickly and intuitively. You already have enough experience to know roughly how much time, or the appropriate 'band-width' of time; you will want to spend on a task. Do not allow accuracy to get in the way of this exercise. It is not an accountable procedure!
To be able to do these effectively use a diary to note down and allocate time for tasks, meetings, and phone calls. Keep a ‘To do’ list either in your diary or as a separate pad. Cross out or tick off tasks as you complete them, and as well as being very satisfying, this will give you an immediate update of how your day is progressing against target. Listing tasks does not mean that you are going to do them yourself; you may choose to delegate them.
Establishing what you want to achieve each day, the specific tasks you will work on and setting a target for the amount of time you spend on each task will enable you to manage time effectively. You are likely to also find that customer, and colleague, satisfaction improves along with their effective time! Personal and professional life is less stressful too!
There is a natural drive that each of us has as human beings. This is the drive to do something we want to do, to work in ways that are important to us individually. Our level of achievement is directly related to the strength of our commitment to the outcome we have set for ourselves.
This is what takes us through the application necessary to become competent and more than competent managers. This is what drives us to become business and community leaders.
Sports people, top performance people generally, are strongly driven by a single goal. To the extent to which this domination is complete they become outstanding at their chosen goal; they may represent their country, become famous, or naturally assume leadership in their chosen area of activity.
Quite literally, the message for goal-driven men and women is that, 'what you want to achieve, you will achieve ... provided you are prepared to pay the cost, and opportunity cost, in training experience and skill development'.
What this means for you as a busy manager with a strong general focus on achievement of business and personal goals is that some focus needs to be given to the personal organisational skills which underpin these outcomes.
Without spending a small proportion of your day devoted to goals or outcomes about the organisation of your work, you will be less efficient in your work than you might otherwise be.
The results for you in spending a little time each day will be an improvement of up to twenty percent in what you achieve in the same time on the job each day. After a week or so of getting used to planning in this way, this will take no more than fifteen minutes daily to accomplish.
You may find the Time Manager Activity Scheduler included in this document a useful tool to plan your day or you may prefer to create your own version.