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Time Management - Lesson 11: Time Management for New Graduates: The Work World – Part 1

Time Fact #11

Managers are interrupted on an average of every 8 minutes.

In managing your TIME during the office day, it is next to impossible to prevent some job interruptions. You can, however, minimize their length and control them.

Block Out Time
There are certain tasks: writing reports, reconciling financial statements, taking inventory, etc. when you need to get away where you will have quiet time to think and carry out your work. Two hours of uninterrupted time is worth nearly a whole day of normal activity. So, set some time aside, have a colleague or family member cover the phone and drop-in visitors while you beat your deadlines. It might even be worthwhile to come to work an hour early once a week or stay an hour later — a flex-time arrangement.

Close The Open Door
It is a myth that the open door increases managerial effectiveness. You need some uninterrupted, quiet time to get essential tasks done. It is also interesting to note that when we see someone alone in his/her office, we assume that person is not busy! Implement the Close the Open Door technique in conjunction with “Availability Hours” (see below).

Availability Hours (enlightened open-door policy)
Supervisors should consider setting aside specific hours each week when any staff member is free to drop in for 5 to 10 minutes to get time sensitive questions answered. Early morning, late afternoon, and just before and after lunch are often utilized for this.

Screen Interruptions (visitors and phone calls)
“Is Ms. Craig busy?” Word your answer well and save some time: “Yes, would you like me to interrupt her or could she call you back?” (Make sure to get a phone number and a good time to return the call). The code word is “interrupt.” A neighbor drops in and your daughter says, “My mother is studying for a test; should I interrupt her?” In each case the caller makes the determination of how important the call/visit is.

Use Colleague’s Office
When a staff member wants to see you, ask if it is urgent or can it wait a few minutes. If it can wait, indicate you will drop by your colleagues’ office. There are two advantages. You have avoided an interruption and finished your task, and while in your colleague’s office you maintain control over your departure. It is usually easier to excuse yourself from someone else’s office than to ask them to leave yours.

Greet Unannounced Visitors Outside Your Office/Home
Give visitors a friendly handshake and a warm, “Can I help you?” Then determine immediately the reason for the visit in order to evaluate whether you want to invite the individual into you office/home.

Confer Standing Up
This has a way of drastically shortening meetings. If you both sit down the visit takes on a different commitment.

Watch For Time Traps
If you are going to be effective, you must have uninterrupted time to get things done. Watch for time stealers. These are individuals who ask you, “”Do you have a minute?” This can be a lead-in for an extended conversation. Don’t hesitate to ask in return, “Can we really do it in a minute?” or “Sure, I have a minute now, but if it’s gong to take longer, let’s set up a meeting for later today.”

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