Business Tips: A Guide To The Time Management Study

The Time Management Study is a key method of insuring productivity, efficiency, determing work flow and accountability.

Classically all of us remember being told in school or at home how important it was for us to use our time wisely. Time management studies are used by large corporations and non profit charities alike in order to increase employee productivity, ensure accountablity, track problem areas such as numerous phone calls, determine staffing statistics, and where the need for manpower may exist. Appropriately utilizing time is a key focal point of discussion in many business seminars. Other examples of the importance of time, include the idea that time is like money in the bank except the minutes lost in the day or in someones life cannot be regained. Time management studies allow us the advantage of spending our time wisely.

The basics of conducting a time management study are quite simple in the least complex form. Basically most companies just employ a tracking sheet. On the sheet the majority of duties are listed at the bottom, but blank lines are listed for time slots. Therefore one would list what you were doing at 8 o'clock, 9 o'clock, 10 o'clock and so on. You would outline how much time you spent in each task, daily and then these number of hours would be tabulated weekly to see what patterns emerged. Patterns are the key. If you put on your time tracking chart an event or work duty that only occurs once per year then it is not representative how time really flows in your job or particular position or work place. Except that particular day of the year. If an activity takes you two hours then you show it as two hours. Or if a phone call took five minutes or fifteen minutes you would show those phone calls. The following is simple example:

8:00 am Arrived at work, turned on computer system, printer, checked answering machine, email, memos, mail box for interoffice correspondence and responded to several memos or email/messages. (8-8:30) Half an hour

8:30 Phone Call from client took 15 minutes for referral information to another agency. (8:30-8:45)

8:45 Intake of client(Walk in Client to be seen). Client came in without appointment to be seen on an important issue, unexpectedly. (8:45-9:45)

9:45 Client call for information, answered key questions. (9:45-10:00)

10:00 Phone call from district office supervisor

requesting a monthly special report be faxed immediately, as it is late, should have been faxed at 9:00. (10:00-10:15)

10:00 Tabulation of statistics for special report, check computer information, consult with office manager for more information. First half of report completed (10:00-10:30)

10:30 Phone call from special account, client, important request (10:30-11:00)

11:00 Committee Meeting, presentation of information and helping coordinate the session, travel to the local civic center for the meeting



(11:00-12:30)

12:30 Lunch (12:30-1:00)

1:00 Call on cell phone from director about report not being faxed this morning to district office, although half of the report was completed and tabulated.

(1:00-1:25)

1:25 Arrival at local college for public speaking presentation, set up audio visual material, meet with college representative. (1:25-2:00)

2:00 Public Speaking Presentation to audience of 100 students and some faculty. (2:00-3:00)

3:00 Unexpected questions from an absent minded professor and two students, with the colleges representative impatient for the use of the room for the next scheduled meeting (3:00-3:20)

3:20 Travel back to office (3:20-3:45)

3:45 Finish morning report (3:45-4:15)

4:15 Call from college to compliment our organization on the presentation and indicate that there would be future business and referrals.

(4:15-4:30)

4:30 Fax report to district office (4:30-4:40)

4:40-5:00 Check and return phone messages, returned two messages leaving 2 messages as clients were not available. One message left for the next work day.

The following time study is simple, and allows individuals to examine where time is being spent and adopt better strategies for dealing with the work flow. In the example above we find that call are an overiding factor and cause constant interruptions. In some companies this might result in a strategy of better screening calls by secretarial staff or a receptionist to see if they can answer questions. Other strategies for better dealing with these interruptions would be to take messages during appointments, and return calls in the morning and in the afternoon to better control the work environment.

Another important issue in the above time management study is allowing for unscheduled appointments. Some companies would adopt a policy of not seeing clients for unscheduled appointments. This caused the morning report to be late at the very least. Other time savers would include taking a message on the need for the morning report to be completed as opposed to constantly discussing it by several different sources ranging from local supervisors to the district office. One reminder should be sufficient.

Another factor that must be considered in every time management study is that time is rounded up to be more efficient in gathering data. The example is rounded up into increments of ten usually or at least numbers easier to handle. It has been determined that when staff are responsible for completing time management studies they tend to round up or inflate time estimates, to not include coffee breaks, cigarette breaks, time to gossip with a co-worker, or personal phone calls. Sometimes this becomes evident in the study none the less. In many cases the time management study helps individuals see where they could be more productive. In other cases it might indicate the need for a new secretarial position or a receptionist, or improvement in their screening capabilities. Industrial psychology focuses around such studies, and includes the idea that employess who do not get sufficient rest breaks actually become more unproductive overall. In the previous study you will note that only a half an hour lunch was given and virtually no breaks, although some might have been built into other time areas. In order to insure better productivity key breaks are important.

Time management studies for individuals in their personal life can also be very important. While there is a trend for children to have every minute scheduled in activites, the backlash can be higher stress. Indeed recent information in the field indicate that parents are now trying to swing the trend in the other direction and be more moderate about allowing for unscheduled time for their children as the core of family interaction sometimes starts to disintegrate. Families failing to have dinner together for example. Time management studies or analysis of where your time is going, or the time of your children can be important to schedule in time for entertainment, a spiritual/religious life, and other important areas of time that improve a person's life.

However you use your time we would all agree that time is precious. Time management studies allow us the chance to examine our lives, our schedules our companies, our employees. They let us look at what we are doing daily. Without that level of examination we many times fall into a continual cycle that may be less and less effective. We fall into a rut. What is a rut you may ask? It is a worn path in the ground taken over and over again as it gets deeper and deeper and you are less and less likely to choose another path, another means of accomplishing or getting to your goal. That is a rut. Time management studies allow us the advantage of seeing what is really taking the most time in our life and develop strategies to make our lives better.

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