Assignment: Professional Reflection – My Daily Planner – Organizing for Success
We are all given a set amount of time each day to accomplish our tasks. The rate in which we accomplish them often determines how effective we are as employees. There are a variety of tools and mechanisms available to help ensure that we make the best use of our time. Finding a time management strategy that works best for you will boost your productivity in the workplace.
The resources this week emphasized on the importance of finding a planning tool that is suitable to you and appropriately applying it to your daily life (Chapman, S. W., & Rupured). Whether it is a calendar, wall charts or index cards, the most significant part of utilizing your time effectively is visualizing what your tasks are. This improves your ability to become organized and minimize the possibility of forgetting a task. With using a planning task you must ensure that you record information on the tool itself. Making notes elsewhere minimizes the effectiveness of the tool (Chapman, S. W., & Rupured).
Prioritizing tasks plays an integral role in effective time management(Chapman, S. W., & Rupured). The distinction between tasks that are ‘urgent’ and those that are ‘important’, help ensure that you are using you time focusing on the things that matter (Eisenhower, 2017). Often times we get consumed with task that are not related to our roles. Completion of these tasks do not reflect on our productivity level. Focusing on the essential activities first help reduce the amount of stress and pressure that you may be faced with from your superiors as you would not be producing work that is immediately useful to them.
Also, I have learnt that when completing a task you must ensure that you are appropriately engaged (TEDx. TEDxTalks, 2012). Distractions such as unnecessary interactions, emails and phone calls take away from the time you have to focus on your tasks.It is important that you extent your physic bandwidth, the time it takes really focus and become fully engaged in tasks, to optimize productivity. The saying ‘If you do not pay attention to what has you attention you will give it more attention than it deserves’, reiterates this statement (TEDx. TEDxTalks, 2012). It expresses the fact that if you are not fully focused on a task you will spend more time trying to complete it.
The organization tool that was most suitable for me was a daily physical diary. Each day I would create a daily ‘To Do List’ and record my tasks at specific time intervals in accordance to priority. My criteria for prioritization came from my manager. Each morning, I would take five minutes to sit with him as discuss exactly what was expected of me for the day. He would give me a set number of tasks that he would like accomplished, at a time in which he would like them completed. The tasks with the closest due dates were always deemed as ‘urgent’. Those that required less effort were at the top of this category. After completion of each task I would review my list. It was important to decipher whether or not I had prioritized correctly. I would ensure that the tasks at the top of my list were related to the activities of the entire office.
Organizing tasks and activities ahead of the day dramatically improved my productivity level. My daily ‘To Do List’ composed of my mandatory tasks with time restrictions and allocated time for ad hoc duties. This allowed me to focus of the things that were directly related to my role and minimize the time I spent on distractions. As tasks were assigned to me throughout the day, I would review my list. If they were assignments that needed my specific consideration I would add them to the list. If not, I would delegate the task to someone that was capable or politely deny the request.
This mode of daily recording and prioritizing served me for the entire week. My application did not change as I believed that it was effective. Looking back I would have added another level to my recording. I found that I often got extremely engaged in perfecting a task and did not stick to my time limitation. The process would have been more effective if I had synchronized the electronic daily planner in my Microsoft Outlook with my physical daily organizer. This application would give alarms as to when I should switch to a new task to ensure that I was not overly engaged with one task. As I use a computer to do 95% of my activities, the alarm would be seen. Also, the daily planner in Outlook would make it easier to reorganize my list in a more visually pleasing manner.
This method of prioritizing my tasks is a valuable process that is worthy of becoming a daily habit. It opened up communication between my superior and I to ensure that I was working in a manner that was pleasing to him. He was able to see my efforts and communicate were there was room for improvement.
This exercise helped me realize that I was not completing tasks that had impact on my work productivity. I was focusing most of my time on tasks that required little effort. Once I encountered difficulty with a task I moved onto another causing me to become a plate-spinner (Morgenstern, J., 2016). I am now able to fully divulge myself into an activity and ensure that I have fully completed it before I move onto another. Also, I have come to the realization that when prioritizing, it is best to consult the leader of the team. What I may consider to be urgent may not be so it relation to those working around me.
If I were in a management role, I would ensure that my staff utilize a planning tool. Whether it be daily or weekly, I would encourage then to have a clear visualization of what is expected of them to help them accomplish their overall goals are. Also, I would communicate with them what I would consider to be urgent. My direction would allow the to make appropriate decisions when deciphering what to work on first.
Below is a copy of my Urgent/Important Matrix.
The Urgent/Important Matrix was essential in helping my determine what tasks to prioritize in my ‘Do First’ category. I paired it with the criteria explained in the Action Priority Matrix to make and intelligent allocation of the use of my time and efforts. ‘Quick win’ tasks were always the first to be completed. They were the activities that needed the least effort but brought about the biggest awards (Action Priority Matrix: Mindtools). Reconciling the daily cash balance was always the first thing that I did. I would have to ensure that the amount left in the cashier’s drawer was equivalent to the amount of receipts printed after the bank deposit. When this amount was correct it would allow me to easily calculate the amounts that were to be collected throughout the day and later deposited to the bank. If this amount was incorrect, I would have to spend time making adjustments throughout the daily to record the cash shortage overage. ‘Major projects’ such as updating expense schedules were time consuming but it allowed for accurate records to imported to the Monthly Balance Sheet (Action Priority Matrix: Mindtools). These were the next things in the important category. ‘Fill-ins’ were tasks I could delegate such as creating purchase orders. These tasks were not relevant to my job expectations and I would only complete the tasks if I had free time and the persons responsible for completing them was unable (Action Priority Matrix: Mindtools). The were no activities that I could not do. Each task was important in its’ own right and needed to be addressed.
The completion of this exercise helped me realize that my tasks are dependent on the completed of tasks the prior day. If I did not complete a task assigned to me, I was unable to move forward with my work. It showed me how important it was to effectively utilize my time throughout the day.
We can never really manager time but only the activities in our lives in relation to time (Chapman, S. W., & Rupured). It is important that you find a time management strategy that is important to you. If the strategy it effectively applied it will improve your work productivity and intern, improve your management skills.
Eisenhower. (2017). Introducing the Eisenhower Matrix. Retrieved from http://www.eisenhower.me/eisenhower-matrix/
Morgenstern, J. (2016). What to do when your to-do-list Is holding up your team. Harvard Business Review Digital Articles
Chapman, S. W., & Rupured, M. (n.d.). Time management: 10 strategies for better time management. The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Retrieved July 11, 2017, from http://www.fcs.uga.edu/docs/time_management.pdf
Action Priority Matrix: Mindtools. (n.d.). The action priority matrix: Making the most of your opportunities Blog. Retrieved July 11, 2017, from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_95.htm
TEDx. TEDxTalks (2012, October 30). The art of stress-free productivity: David Allen at TEDxClaremontColleges Video file. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHxhjDPKfbY