Management of Your Most Precious Resource – Time

Management of Your Most Precious Resource-Time

by the late George Robotham. See more of George’s Safety Reflections SEE MORE HERE

'funny-pictures-procrastination-cat' photo (c) 2008, Jeff McNeill - license:

It used to be said that man has a finite time on this earth, possibly this is changing to a certain extent with modern advances in medical science. The important thing to realise is that whatever time we have it is important to use it well and manage it wisely.

There is often little correlation between hard work and the level of achievement. Active people do not necessarily get the most done.

Activity = Productivity is a myth. Measure by results rather than activity

Develop a time log of a typical day or week to help you analyse your time usage.

“Procrastination is the thief of time”

The following works for me, I do not know if it will work for you. Trim time wasting e-mails. Attempt to be succinct in all your written documents, you do not have time to write pages of waffle that others will be too busy to read. Use management summaries with major reports. Trim non-essential meetings and use video-conferencing instead of gathering people at a meeting where people have to travel to the meeting venue. An open door policy is fine in theory but can waste a lot of time. Instead let people know your not to be disturbed times and the times when you are available for consultation. Come in early, leave early and use the early morning when no one is about to your advantage. At the beginning of the day divide your to do list into the MUST DOS, SHOULD DOS & COULD DOS, your aim is to complete at least all those on the MUST DO list before you go home.

Excessive work habits are more often a debit than a credit.

Common time wasters

1 Trying to take on too many tasks

2 Poor planning

3 Accepting jobs that should & could be done by others

4 Putting jobs off

5 Lack of organisation

6 Taking on tasks not capable of doing

You need to identify what are the time wasters for you.

  • Planning your work will save time.
  • Refuse to do the unimportant.
  • Set deadlines for yourself and others.
  • Telephone-Do not be scared to terminate conversations, block calls in your quiet time, pre-plan your call, delegate your calls, do not encourage small talk,
  • Handling interruptions-Do not encourage them, filter phone calls, tell people you are busy, you be the visitor rather than encouraging people to visit you, limit the time of the visit, work elsewhere, come in early, keep a certain time of the week free, learn to say no, improve delegation.
  • Paperwork-Do you really need that memo? Does Fred really need a copy?, C.Y.A. & J.I.C. paperwork?, be succinct in everything you write, expect succinct correspondence from others, purge files regularly, write on the original rather than produce a new piece of paper, can correspondence be replaced by a phone call?
  • Meetings-Do you really need a meeting?, can someone else attend?, do your homework before the meeting, have an agenda, have a time schedule for the meeting, define the objective of the meeting, allocate responsibilities for agreed tasks, leave if not relevant to you, review meeting effectiveness.
  • Travel-Is travel really necessary?, can you video-conference instead?, must it be you who travels?, plan / combine trips to reduce frequency, verify appointments before you leave, have a checklist, take your lap-top with you and do some work, use the airport lounges,
  • Reading-Choose what you read, cut down on the reading of newspapers, skim read, read with a purpose, delegate reading and ask for a summary,
  • Keep a reasonably tidy desk
  • Take the time you need to do a quality job, saves re-work.
  • Do it straight away.
  • Prioritise, do the important first.
  • Ask yourself “Have I got a better way of spending my time?”
  • Do not leave e-mail sitting in your in box.
  • Do not take on too many tasks at once
  • Group tasks of a similar nature and do them together
  • Say no
  • Get feedback on job performance
  • Collect everything needed for a task before you commence it
  • Set an example by same day processing of your in basket
  • Tell your staff “Bring me solutions, not problems”
  • Remember the Pareto Principle, 20% of activity gives 80% of results, make sure the 20% gets done
  • Keep one day of the week free
  • List your common time wasting problems, causes and actions you could take.
George Robotham

George Robotham

George was a Legend in the Safety World who passed away in Sept 2013 but left us with a great legacy
George Robotham
I have worked in OHS for most of my working life, many years in the mining industry including over 10 years in a corporate OHS role with BHP. Since leaving the mining industry I have worked in a variety of safety roles with a variety of employers, large & small, in a variety of industries. I was associated with my first workplace fatality at age 21, the girl involved was young, intelligent, vivacious and friendly. Such a waste! I was the first on the scene and tried to comfort her and tend to her injuries. She said to me “George, please do not let me die” We put her on the aerial ambulance to Rockhampton base hospital where she died the next day. I do not mind telling you that knocked me around for awhile. Since then I have helped my employers cope with the aftermath of 12 fatalities and 2 other life-altering events. The section "Why do Occupational Health & Safety" provides further detail but in summary, poor safety is simply very expensive and also has a massive humanitarian cost. My qualifications include a certificate I.V. in Workplace Training and Assessment, a Diploma in Frontline Management, a Diploma in Training & Assessment Systems, a Bachelor of Education (Adult & Workplace Education) , a Grad. Cert. in Management of Organisational Change and a Graduate Diploma in Occupational Hazard Management. I am currently studying towards a Masters in Business Leadership. Up until recently I had been a Chartered Fellow of the Safety Institute of Australia for 10 years and a member for about 30 years. My interest is in non-traditional methods of driving organisational change in OHS and I have what I believe is a healthy dis-respect for many common approaches to OHS Management and OHS Training. I hold what I believe is a well-founded perception that many of the things safety people and management do in safety are “displacement activities” (Displacement activities are things we do, things we put a lot of energy into, but which when we examine them closely there is no valid reason for doing them). My managerial and leadership roles in OHS have exposed me to a range of management techniques that are relevant to Business Improvement. In particular I am a strong supporter of continuous improvement and quality management approaches to business. I believe leadership is the often forgotten key to excellence in most aspects of life. I hold the Australian Defence Medal and am a J.P.(Qualified). I have many fond memories of my time playing Rugby Union when I was a young bloke.

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