How do I cover all the bases with fewer personnel?

With only 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week, time must be spent wisely by working smarter rather than harder.

three people planning and collaborating at deskTime management is the key. The word time we understand, but do we really understand the term management? The four basic principles of management are planning, organizing, directing and controlling. Let’s look at each of these elements as they relate to working smarter.

Planning

Assuming that the organization has a vision and a mission in mind, as well as a strategic plan to accomplish these, then daily planning becomes the responsibility of each employee as he or she develops the tasks necessary to accomplish these goals. Daily planning focuses on the important elements of our jobs, helps to identify and avoid time wasters and assists in using time more productively. It is true that interruptions such as telephone calls, emails and texts may occur frequently throughout the day, but it is crucial to identify which are important and which are not, then work toward eliminating non-productive interruptions.

When using a daily planner, use one planner for both work and personal activities. Then the day becomes fully organized and time isn’t wasted by having to look at various schedules to see what task is next or when to make your next dentist appointment.

Organizing

Daily planning also is part of the organization function because by doing so, you organize your time and limit interruptions. Yet organization is so much broader. It includes such things as simplifying and standardizing repetitive tasks, organizing your work space so that you don’t spend countless time looking for things that should be readily available, removing unnecessary items while making sure that adequate supplies and inventory are maintained and scheduling routine maintenance.

Directing

The principle of directing is simply following through to see that necessary tasks are accomplished, whether directing yourself or your subordinates. Other possible ways to cover the bases with fewer employees include motivating current employees, cross-training employees to perform multiple tasks, using interns or outsourcing employees.

Interns are often available through high school vocational programs or through programs from the Missouri Division of Social Services or from your local community action agency. They are available to work anywhere from 10 to 40 hours a week at no or little cost to the employer. Often the employee is eager to learn, to work, and to accept new opportunities. Consider evaluating the options of using these programs.

Outsourcing employees is another option when the need is limited or for a temporary basis. Contract employees are often highly skilled and very cost effective when evaluating the overall organization needs. Temporary agencies also provide employees when needed on a limited basis, ranging from a few hours to a few months. Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) throughout the country are growing at about 30 percent annually. They offer employees benefits, keep employment records, deal with unemployment and workers’ compensation, process payroll and contract with employers to meet their human resource needs.

Controlling

The final principle of management is controlling. This is evident in various quality control programs, inventory control systems, accounting systems, human resource systems, budgets, cost overruns, discipline procedures and about any aspect of organizational policies and procedures. But how does it relate to managing time? Again, what is being done about unnecessary interruptions? Are the daily tasks being accomplished? Are these tasks relevant to the overall organization’s mission? These questions must be evaluated for a time management system to be effective.

Many organizations frequently find themselves working in a state of crisis management, which is a time waster and exemplifies an organization out of control. Performance suffers, stress increases and quality and productivity diminish. Effective planning, organizing, directing and controlling would eliminate the crisis management organizational mode. As a result, you could find yourself able to do more by working smarter, even with fewer personnel.

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