What are some good time-management tips for my busy staff?

How can I keep my employees from feeling overwhelmed?


Every person in every department in your newspaper has different roles and responsibilities to make the business successful.  Often times, in order to accomplish the various projects and initiatives management has put into place, employees find themselves running around, haphazardly juggling those tasks. It can seem overwhelming at times, and overall operational efficiency suffers as a result.

However, as I often talk about in my training events, all you need to do is bring it back down to the basics and think about what's important. This is the power of prioritizing. If your employees were to take the time to step back and think about each of the things that need to be accomplished, the seemingly overwhelming work load not only becomes more manageable, but they work more efficiently.

On a day-to-day basis there are always going to be tasks that need to get done and as the company grows, new tasks will be added to replace the ones that were completed. The work must get done even in the midst of regularly scheduled meetings, meetings with prospects or vendors, or even technological problems that might slow things down.

How do you get ahead of the game and make sure you're working as efficiently and effectively as possible? It's a simple two-step process – make a list and then prioritize that list. By making a list, you are creating a finite universe of what needs to get done.

In order to increase your employees' efficiency at work, encourage each of them to follow this procedure:

  • First take five minutes to write down (or type) every task that needs to be accomplished in the next 30 days.
  • Next, take the items that need to be completed every day and move them to the top of the list.
  • Now look at the remaining items. Can any tasks be combined? For example, if your employee needs to build a proposal for two clients, could he work on those at the same time and use some of the same formatting, sales language, etc.? If he is able to combine activities, or at the very least, set aside time to accomplish related tasks, he will work much more efficiently than if he was jumping from task to task without organizing the effort ahead of time.
  • Now take another look at the list. Is there anything that could be put off until tomorrow or a later date? Put these items at the bottom of the list.

Your employee has now built a plan to optimize his time. He should first make sure to take care of the tasks at the top of the list which he has determined need to get done today. Then, get to work on the tasks that have been grouped together so he is essentially "killing two birds with one stone."

Finally, with the remaining time in the day, start working on those items that are due at a later date. Anything that could get done on those tasks will only make it easier the next day.

Think back to when you were in school – if you needed to read a 200-page book in two weeks, it was much easier to read 20 pages a day than to read all 200 the night before.

The last thing that I would recommend you have your employees do is save five minutes at the end of the day so they can evaluate what was accomplished. Were they able to complete every task they wanted to today? Is there some way they could have worked more efficiently? Even figuring out a way to save five to 10 minutes means that, tomorrow, there will be that much more time to work on the items that don't need to be completed for awhile.

This will result in a lower stress level for everyone and each of your employees will be optimizing his or her personal path to success.

Allan Barmak is a national speaker and author of "The Accidental Salesperson." He leads a sales consulting and training firm which leverages his 20 years of sales experience in digital media. Over the years, he has worked with a variety of different companies across a wide range of industries, helping each of them expand their sales operations by optimizing existing revenue streams as well as building new ones.

He is available to run customized training for your salespeople to help them sell online media and can also deliver an "Accidental Salesperson" column for your paper if you would like additional content.

He can be reached at allan@barmakgroup.com or (703) 597-1033.


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