Odds are, you’re wasting time. A Salary.com survey reveals that the average employee admits to wasting roughly two hours each workday—not including lunch or scheduled breaks.
So many people find it hard to stay focused at work, it’s not surprising that “time” continues to be a hot topic. Experts like David Allen and Merlin Mann can offer valuable advice on time management.
But what about administrative professionals? After all, to do the job well, you must be a master of tracking dozens of moving pieces, while keeping a close eye on scores of deadlines.
Administrative pros offer their top time-management advice:
1. Transfer all tasks onto your Outlook calendar, advises one admin. Work stuff, personal stuff—she puts everything in hers. For example, she includes meetings and dinner appointments, as well as her volunteer commitments and her house-cleaning schedule. She can access her synced calendar on her PC or smartphone.
Why? Simply writing down a to-do is no assurance that it will get done. Assigning the task a date and time ups the chances that it will.
2. Set two reminder alerts for every calendar task and appointment. Set one reminder for two hours prior to the task deadline, and a second reminder for five prior.
3. Schedule some joy in your life. For example, put a standing dinner date with friends on the calendar. It’s not about doing more, but about doing the right things.
“My energy sags if I only do what I have to do, not what I want to do,” says one admin. “Squeezing in what makes me happy helps energize me.”
4. Rise early. One uber-productive admin uses morning hours to start the dishwasher, load the washing machine, organize a drawer or two, and read her email for work.
“By answering many emails from home in the morning, my travel agent or co-workers have answers to work on and aren’t waiting to all pounce on me the moment I walk into the office,” she says.
5. Build in a safety net. Despite our best efforts, it’s easy for attention to wander. One admin sets a timer at work for whatever job she’s tackling. It lets her know how much longer she must maintain her focus. The timer may be set for 10, 15 or 30 minutes. “It doesn’t always work, but most times it does,” she says.
Get your entire office organized efficiently, once and for all! Use the easy-to-implement guidelines in our free Special Report—The Office Organizer: 10 tips.