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Showing posts from September, 2013

Variations of Now - Time Management

How many times have you heard?The days really aren't long enoughThere is too much pressureBeing a manager has never been more difficult.Work's not fun anymoreI have tried delegating, but end up doing it myself, anyway
All of the above have been said to me over and over at various functions and meetings, and I think I've said a few myself.   Twenty years ago, every manager had a secretary or assistant, then in came desktop computing, and we all started doing our own typing, setting up business models etc, and the day of the shared assistant, and then no assistant at all drifted in.

Two types of time managers often emerge during stressful times, those that can't say no, and those that say ''its not my job''.   Methods of dealing with urgent issues divides the leaders from the followers.

One of my favourite stories is from entrepeneur Albert C. Black Jnr and its about the cow in the ditch.   To paraphrase, first get the cow out of the ditch, secondly, find…

Work Life Balance in the Mobile world

Five years ago, businesses were starting to talk about e-strategy, and not just about whether they should allow staff to access Facebook.   Now an e-strategy is becoming an essential.
While businesses are grappling with productivity levels, a difficult economy and the expectations of employees, the question remains whether we are achieving balance between people, processes and technology.
The rise of the mobile office and the mobile professional is part of this.  Visit any local coffee shop that offers free wifi, and there will be people working on laptops and mobile devices, holding meetings and conducting business.   I do wonder whether it makes sense for the coffee shops, as they sit at choice tables, order lots of coffee, and very little else..
As many South African entities, both companies and individuals, are active in the global economy, the traditional business discipline of ‘supply and demand’ compels companies to virtually remain open for business, 24/7.   Not the coffee shops…

My Time Management Model - the Right Now Part

Sometimes Right Now feels like an impossible dream, being able to work to a plan, tick all the items in my To Do list, and work from 8 until 5...

So many things get in the way of running according to a schedule.   We have implemented a number of different initiatives at +Accsys (Pty) Ltd to try and allow people to complete tasks by deadline and take the pressure off.   But we do find that there are incoming tasks and requirements that are part of corporate life that throw out all the best laid plans.

So can a Right Now model change that?   To an extent, yes.   In one of my meetings today, one of my managers told me that it was taking a long time to finalise some of her requirements from a shared resource, and yet mine had been managed in a very brief time frame.  Its true that I do have seniority, but I also attached an absolute deadline to the job that had to be done.   So the Right Now model is very much around setting boundaries and time frames, as well as priorities.

In interview…

Bismarck du Plessis and the fruit of the poisoned tree

The concept of the fruit of the poisoned tree is one of those philosophical debates that has always fascinated me.  

So when I see a situation like Saturday morning's New Zealand vs South Africa rugby international, it brings the concept right into focus for me.   Bismarck was given a yellow card in the first half, which, according to experts, as well as the IRB, was not valid.   Early in the second half, he was given another yellow, and this is where the problem lies.  Those two yellows created a red, which meant that he was off for the rest of the game.

But even more interesting is that they are deciding whether or not to hold a red card hearing.  (Please forgive me if my terminology is not strictly correct).   The point being that he got a second yellow card, even though the first one was invalid, and therefore, valid or not, the rules are the rules.   Of course, there is a view that, right or wrong, he had the first yellow card, and he should have been extra careful not to get…

My Time Management Model - The Just Now Part

South African expressions are unique.   And Just Now is a really special one.  Its meaning can range from 1 minute away to never.

When it comes to Time Management, though, Just Now, can be used to resolve the less urgent issues, which do need to happen, just not now.   Where I went badly wrong with this model, at the beginning, was with the methods I used (and still do, sometimes).
Made notes in various notepads and diary systems;Used the Outlook reminder systemConverted the eMails back to unreadSet up tasks in Outlook The above can only work if you read each one of them, every day, otherwise they simply add to the accumulation of tasks.

So what does work?   The only way for me is to schedule time to handle the load.  I started by blocking out parts of my diary for "catch up", and, of course, everybody who could see my diary kept asking whether that time was available, the same happened if I put in Private time.   Now, I block off the time for a specific named task, and that …

My Time Management Model - The Not Now part

Like many people, I am a great believer in procrastination.  Why do it now, when it can be done just now?    And it used to be possible.  I chose the tasks I enjoyed the most, finished them quickly, and then slowly worked my way through the jobs that were less fun.

Then I started getting between 75 and 100 eMails per day, and found out something interesting about myself.  I need neatness and structure to work effectively, even though I enjoy the adrenaline rush of hitting last minute deadlines.   I also realised that I was still doing the fun jobs first, but was developing a squeaky wheel mentality to the less interesting tasks ie responding to those that shouted the loudest or, to be fair to them, reminded me most regularly.

So first the neatness and structure.  I like a tidy desk, and I like a tidy computer.  Very nerdish, I know, but I find I can't do anything properly, if things aren't where they are supposed to be.  Outlook rules were my first step.   Everything regular g…

Respecting Time

Work is a marathon, and correctly pacing yourself has to be a part of any long distance race.

Effective time management has never been more important, and yet it is more difficult to achieve than ever before.   There has to be compromise.   Over the past two weeks, I have spent 1.5 days in my base office.  I had 4 days leave (and all my colleagues told me to relax and enjoy them), and 4 days in my 2 coastal offices, where we were either in conference or meeting with clients.

So, not a lot of time to answer eMails, except in the evenings.  And yet there is an expectation that there will not be a delay in response times.   While this might be OK in a large corporate where there are lots of people to delegate to(although I somehow doubt it), sometimes there just isn't anybody who can take over a particular task, especially in smaller companies.    There also appears to be a perception that, if the eMailer gives a deadline, that is the only deadline in the recipient's diary.

Not t…

Biometrics - an unique identification method

Face or finger, palm or vein, no matter the method, the rise of biometrics as the preferred method of access and identification, is definitive.   Simply put, it is the use of unique biological features to confirm identity.

In many environments, both commercial and private, it is critical to know who is on the premises, and when they arrived and left.   Clocking in and out used to be mainly a "blue collar" requirement, tracking hourly paid workers and easing payroll pressure.   Increasingly, biometric devices are being used in office environments, as well as housing estates, gyms and apartment buildings.  Traditional cards are easily mislaid, but its a bit more challenging to lose your finger or face!

However, there is still a significant usage of cards, pin codes and other physical devices, and it is a fact that almost 3% of the population do not have consistently readable fingerprints.

In the South African people management space (Human Capital Management/Workforce Manageme…