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Working well’s all about timing

THE workplace environment of the early 21st century demands increasing worker efficiency in shorter time frames, placing considerable focus on time management.

Those who master the skill of managing time can expect to be less stressed and more productive, ac-cording to conventional wisdom.

According to Success Fast Track management consultant Brett Hilder, an organised person will not only be a more productive person, they also will have a better life balance.

“There is a significant link between time management and performance. It’s hard to deliver your best and deliver quality when you have major time pressure concerns,” Mr Hilder said.

“It also impinges on your creativity.”

He suggested people feel more constrained by time not because they are working longer hours, but be-cause they are not adapting quickly enough to new work systems.

“It is a direct result of not updating with the changing workloads, such as dealing with email,” Mr Hilder said.

“Over the past decade people have been feeling more time pressures and higher levels of stress.”

Email is something Donington chairman and managing partner of People Solutions, Steve Bowler, has conquered as part of his organisation strategy.

“I spend a half an hour a day on email. I look at it first thing in the morning or at lunch time and put aside time to look at attachments. Important emails can be done within 24 hours,” he said.

Mr Bowler needs to be an organised operator, especially since founding People Solutions’ sister company Donington two and a half years ago.

“I’ve really looked at my scheduling. I used to go out and visit clients all over the place, now I schedule the appointments for Wednesday morning and that’s it. I’ve taken control,” he said.

“It was hard at first because you are always trying to please people. When I adapted my style I haven’t lost any business.”

Mr Bowler said he analysed the time he spent on business support, operation and management, and transformed the 20 hours a week on support [the email and administration] down to five hours a week, freeing him to develop more important aspects of the business.

JB Were State manager Ron Bennetts said expansion and

changes within the organisation a couple of years ago required him

to become better organised.

“The office grew from six people in 1991 to 50. We had new products and services and add to that the new demand for compliance,” he said.

“After you’ve been in business a while you make friends and your client base grows. It’s hard to stop that.”

Although a confessed time management sceptic, Mr Bennetts was approached by a company called Organised 1st, which is still working with the firm today.

Organised 1st would not disclose how its service effectively organises individuals and teams, due to a pending patent, but Mr Bennetts said he couldn’t imagine life without the strategies.

“I make better use of my time and it has meant less stress for me,” he said. “We trained everyone who wanted to do it.

“Towards the end of March, not long before daylight saving finishes, you notice that everyone gets more tired and there are usually more sick days because people have been starting work at 6.30am. I expected high levels of sickness but it was significantly lower.”

Mr Bennetts said the system also helped him manage his people. By tracking his staff through the system he can identify when a staff member may be experiencing outside pressures of which he is not aware.

Organised 1st director Mark Lovekin said today’s workforce experienced cognitive overload, which could be overcome through a disciplined yet simple approach to organising work.

“It’s a worldwide phenomenon that has occurred over the past decade,” he said. “We have the combination of information overload, the need to multi-task, the interruption era, and the fact that we are supposed to perform better and be better people at work and at home.”

Mr Hilder said interruptions were among the biggest time sappers for busy executives.

“Interruptions get in the way of work. Unnecessary phone calls, email alarms, social chit chat. I did a survey of people attending our sessions over 12 months and 71 per cent of them said it was their biggest time waster,” he said.

“One hour of interrupted time is equivalent to three or four hours of uninterrupted time. People can come in an hour before the phones start going and can do their intensive things and spend an hour uninterrupted, without the stress.

“A lot of people don’t prioritise effectively. There was a study of 1600 self-made millionaires in the US. The single thing they all had in common was that every one of them prioritised.

“People don’t look at the systems and how to leverage time. Most people are good technicians but they don’t look at the process.

“People get so focused on the technical side and interruptions that they don’t take a step back and look at how it is done.”

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