Like everyone else I have a lot of competing demands on my time at work. A particular issue for me is how to deal with constant interruptions from lawyers when I am trying to concentrate on another task. Answering queries and doing research are part of my job so it’s not going to go away, I hoped training on time management would help me to deal with these interruptions better.
For three days before the training the trainer asked us all to keep a log of what we did each day and a log of all the interruptions. On morning one of the log my list of interruptions filled an entire side of A4 paper, some of interruptions got interrupted by further interruptions! Of course things are not always as busy as that but it did provide a good example for the trainer.
The interruptions log also provided me with food for thought, showing me that some of the interruptions are self generated. Of course I’m not a machine and I need to leave my desk now and then for food, drink etc, but did I really need to check my Google Reader account 4 times in one day?
The morning involved a series of activities each with a different time management lesson, not all were appropriate for my particular situation but there are several things that I will start to put into practice over the next few weeks.
- am I the correct person for this task? – the first exercise was to define the purpose of our employment and then to think about the tasks we do and if they are really related to what we are employed to do. Sticking to this would allow me to very occasionally say no to requests such as helping set up the video conferencing just because I happen to sit next to the meeting room
- using a to do list – I never know what the day is going to throw at me in terms of research and other library queries but writing a list of the essentials I must do that day may help ensure I achieve them.
- don’t confuse urgency with importance, something that is important but not urgent can be scheduled for later; but don’t put off the difficult jobs!
- use ADQ = acknowledge the request, disclose why I can’t do the task immediately, question until a satisfactory (to both parties) deadline is reached
- reduce my self-generated time-waters – less checking of Google Reader and the news, ensure I delegate where appropriate, don’t let a busy day get me flustered, that just wastes more time.
I am hopeful that these tricks will help me to manage the increasingly diverse range of tasks I need to do. However interruptions are part of working in a library so I may find that I do need to remove myself to a quiet room on occasion if I have a task I need absolute concentration for.
Overall this was an enjoyable and useful course and combined with some self discipline should make a positive difference to my working practices.