Ed note: We all need ways to save time, but at no time more so than at the holiday season. The computer makes so many things possible, but with that come increasing demands and Gayle’s advice will help you in ways that will help no matter what technology you have in your church office.
The computer has taken over so many office tasks it could be easy to neglect the scores of time saving tips having nothing to do with technology. Here are some to review—and to keep in your tool box:
• Plan your errands. Make one trip do the work of several. Visit banks and stores at their least busy times.
• Accumulate matters to discuss with your supervisor rather than having several conversations during the day.
• Let a ring of the telephone signal you to relax for a mini-second. Take a deep breath, exhale slowly, ease your shoulders, smile.
• Sort mail when it arrives. Make a stack for each person; place priority mail on top.
• Instead of taking time to read non-essential mail when it arrives, put it on hold in a convenient drawer. Scan it for helpful information during your low-energy time.
• Develop simple forms for hospital information, requests for assistance, funeral arrangements, and the like.
• Use the four Ds of paperwork. Each time you are confronted with paper, either Do it, Delegate it, Delay it, or Drop it.
• Handle each piece of paper as few times as possible. Each time you handle a document move it toward its ultimate purpose.
• Keep a list of needed supplies on the inside of the supply cabinet door. Check your list before each visit to the store or online order.
• Order spares of necessary supplies. Emergency purchases waste time and money.
• Keep your desk orderly. Avoid UPOs (Unidentified Piled Objects). Have a place for everything. Clutter is a time and energy waster.
• Purge files regularly. As much as 90 percent of material filed is never used after the first year.
• Establish a message center at your desk for staff members. A message center for church officers, committee members and others who are in the office seldom is best in an area away from your desk.
• When you work, work. When you relax, relax. Take breaks away from your desk rather than bringing a snack to your desk and having a “working” break.
• When counting cards, count only a fraction of what you need—25, 50, or 100— and stack. Make other stacks of the same height until you have the required number.
• Eliminate forgotten enclosures and save the time involved in sending them in a second letter. Put a paper clip at the enclosure notation before giving a letter to your supervisor to sign. When the letter comes back to you, you’ll be reminded to send the necessary enclosures.
Time management is a skill to be learned like any other. There is no magic formula, just basic principles. Right now you have the knowledge you need to make a significant step toward enhancing your time management ability. Put what you know into practice and you will see results.