I want to thank everyone that responded to last month’s E-newsletter and blog article about the A3 Planning Tool. It was helpful to hear that many of you thought you could use this tool and how you thought it would keep you on track IF you had the TIME to use it. A problem I have had my entire career, it seems, is planning out my time. But do we really plan our time? It took several years and several classes on time management to realize I cannot manage my time. There are 24 hours in each day, regardless of what we do with those hours. That will never change. So, we don’t really manage time, we only manage the things that we do within those 24 hours of time. After I realized what consumed my time each day, I could manage how much time was allotted to each activity. Sounds simple doesn’t it? How many of you really know what you are doing in a day’s time? In planning and scheduling, we talk a lot about understanding what our craftspeople are working on, and how important it is to capture this information. Is it not equally important for us to understand what we are spending our time on each day?
Over the next several months, I will talk about this in the E-newsletter and blog. I will walk you through several steps that helped me to understand what I was doing in a workday’s time. When I had a busy day, I would often wonder where the time went. The time didn’t go anywhere. Instead, I should have been wondering what I did with the time I had. A typical work day included:
- Two meetings that each ran an hour over
- A machine that went down and required two hours of my time
- A call inquiring whether we should replace some bearings
- A call from my manager to discuss an issue
You get the point on this! I really didn’t know how my time was used each day. The very first thing that we must do is understand what we are doing during our workday. I want you to simply use a note pad, blank piece of paper or a print out of a blank Office Out Look calendar page. Now for the hard part: Write down what you do each day. I want you to do this every day for 2 weeks. I know it sounds simple, but wait until you try it. There are several different ways you can do this:
- Sit down at the end of the day (you will forget several things, but that is okay)
- Carry a clipboard around with you all day and write as you go (this is what I had to do)
- Record the tasks you have done after each break and lunch (if you get to take a break)
At the end of the first week, I found that I hadn’t completely documented several days. It wasn’t until the 2nd and 3rd weeks that I really started to understand what tasks were piling up on my plate. You may have to use this exercise for several weeks to understand what you are doing during your work hours. Some of you may not need that long and some of you may need longer. It doesn’t matter, this is how we learn what activities or tasks are preventing us from doing the things we want to do, instead of just doing the things we have to do. We will talk a lot more in the coming months about that.
Here is a little peek into next month’s conversation. First, we figure out how we are spending our time, then we must understand the importance of each activity, and finally, we learn to prioritize how we spend our time. Interested? Want to understand and learn more? Let’s get started. Get out your pen and paper and start writing down everything that you do during each work day. I look forward to hearing from you and answering any questions and hearing comments this month. Most importantly, send me your ideas as well. Networking is a great way to learn from each other!
Senior Facilitator / Professional Development Specialist
(919) 926 – 2463