Personal effectiveness tips Featured

10:07am EDT July 22, 2002

Calendars.....

Use one calendar to record all meetings, appointments and social engagements. Multiple calendars lead to duplicate or missed appointments and frequent confusion and provides few benefits. If you must maintain duplicate calendars for your secretary or on your computer, be sure to update the copies daily to ensure accuracy. Don’t mix reminders or to-do’s in with your appointments. Use a separate daily to-do list for miscellaneous tasks.

To-Do Lists.....

The typical endless to-do list is better than no list at all, but it is a poor method for prioritizing and efficiently handling tasks. The best approach is to develop a separate list of tasks each day. Things that can’t be dealt with immediately are added to daily lists compiled in advance for the next three or four weeks. This helps create a blueprint of tasks for the next 20 to 30 days, one that is constantly being updated based on changing priorities and the arrival of new tasks.

Downward Delegation.....

Every one of us can multiply our effectiveness by delegating to others. This is essential to leveraging our time and to helping others grow in their own skills and confidence. It’s difficult to delegate when we know we can do a task better than someone else. But we inhibit our own productivity and the growth of others if we resist—and most failed businesses can trace at least part of the reason for their failure to poor delegation.

Delegation Techniques.....

Effective delegation involves five steps: (1) Identify the tasks to be delegated. (2) Select the person to do those tasks. (3) Communicate in writing, being sure to resolve priority conflicts and ensure full understanding. (4) Follow up and evaluate at appropriate intervals. (5) Reward successful results. Successful delegation is one of the most effective and satisfying management activities.

Quiet Hour.....

Most people are at peak efficiency in the morning. We can capitalize on this fact by providing a “quiet hour” each day, during which co-workers are not permitted to interrupt each other except in cases of emergency. Pick a convenient time block of one to two hours—say 8 to 9:30—and make this the quiet hour. Everyone’s efficiency improves during this time because distractions are minimized for all.

Technology.....

Exploding technological advances offer some of the best ways to make ourselves more efficient. The technology of personal computers continues to advance at a remarkable pace. Cellular phones are inexpensive and greatly enhance our ability to communicate. Voice-mail systems have shed their “answering machine” image to practically eliminate the frustration of attempting to reach people who are not available when we call. And fax machines permit us to instantly transmit the printed word. Use these tools—they can be a great help.

Travel System.....

Develop and use a single system for appointments, to-do’s and communications tracking that can travel with you—this keeps you functional when you’re away from the office. A three-ring binder can hold your calendar, 30-day to-do list and A to Z communications records. It’s like having your desk along with you when you’re away from the office and permits you to continue to function normally while you travel. SBN

These tips are offered by Stan Rosko of Rosko Associates, part of the Int’l Priority Management network (216) 528-0465.