Ed. note: In the coming weeks before Easter we all feel have far more to do than minutes in the day to get it done. Gayle provides some wonderful help in managing your work and I must admit, helps me feel less guilty for the many articles, ideas, and projects I'm sending your way in the coming weeks.
Everyone says it at one time or another: Help! I need more time to get all my work done.
Bad news. There is no more time. We have all there is; no one can give us more than the 24 hours we already have every day.
A good first step to being more productive is to understand this important principle and begin to see time as the precious resource it is—a resource that cannot be saved up, manipulated or controlled, but can only be used. The goal then is to use it wisely and well. We cannot truly manage time itself, but we can manage our own work habits and behaviors.
• See time as a blessing.
Attitude plays an enormous role in productivity. Start each day thanking God in advance for what the day will bring, for the opportunities it affords, the blessings it holds. Use each minute as a gift; what if you didn’t have this day?
• Plan. Then do.
Unplanned days seldom reach their potential for productivity. Use a few minutes of the last hour of each day to identify your priorities for the next day. After your plans are on paper (or on screen) assemble materials you will need for your most important tasks. Having them ready gives you a jump on the new day.
• Maximize your mornings.
Research suggests that in most offices the first hour of the day is the least productive. How do you start your day? With meaningless rituals or with meaningful tasks?
Track your mornings for the next few days. Don’t make an effort to change anything (yet) but pay particular attention to how you use this most important time. Once you have a true picture of your usual routine, take steps to turn your first hours into more productive ones.
• Follow your plan.
Your written plan is your map for the day. A detour or two can be expected, but do not allow yourself to be pulled off track by nonessentials. Unless you take control over interruptions and distractions you will feel constantly under time pressures. Stay focused. Learn not to interrupt yourself; this practice is epidemic in church offices. Make each day’s journey a pleasant trip, not a survival course.
• Claim your power.
Productive people “own” their time. They do not allow others to fritter their time away. This does not mean the assistant ignores needs or instructions. Far from it. The quality of work increases as she takes responsibility for her time and overcomes any feelings that others have control over how her workday hours will be spent.
• Analyze your day.
No one knows your office and your routine like you do. Scrutinize your schedule: what are the bottlenecks? Where are the timewasters? Who presents what obstacles? What careless habits have cropped up? What patterns emerge?
This objective look at how things are will help you create new and more productive techniques for how things will be. Consider changing the hour of day certain tasks are done. Look for short cuts. Omit any unnecessary tasks; there will be some!