You get in the office early, you are the last one to leave, and yet the piles of unfinished work keep mounting. Sound familiar? This is an all too common scenario for busy office managers, who are increasingly asked to do more with less.
So how can you break the mold, get on top of the workload, and pare back the ridiculous number of hours you spend at the office? You deserve a life outside of work, and you deserve to feel happy and on top of things in the office too.
With the constant interruptions that most office managers face, it is easy to see why it is virtually impossible to get things done. However, with a few disciplined changes to your routine, and with the help of a few web-based tools, the drive for higher efficiency is easier than you might think. Here are our 7 top time saving tips to make your days in the office run like clockwork.
1. Use web-based tools for rota management and time scheduling
It is a no-brainer. Simplifying your rota management and time scheduling will not only save you the time spent on doing the schedule in the first place, but it will also save you the headache of sorting out shift errors and shift swaps at the touch of a button. Online shift planners help you to manage layers of logistics.
With proper scheduling software, you can easily track the availability of your staff without making time-consuming phone calls. Staff can request time off via the online portal, and you can approve it or decline it in an instant. You will also be able to publish your schedule well in advance, so any conflicts can be spotted and cleared up without last-minute cover crises ending up on your desk.
Regarding your own time, schedule it weekly in advance. If you do not plan, you are doomed to be swept up with the day-to-day interruptions that don’t matter. With a weekly plan, you will be able to hit the ground running each day as soon as you reach your desk.
2. Prioritise and make an achievable weekly task list
You may think you already prioritise your workload, but most of us could do better. Break down your monthly, quarterly and annual goals into weekly and daily tasks. The main advantage of breaking down tasks into smaller bite-size chunks is they get completed and ticked off your to-do list. When more significant tasks stay on your to-do list, they make you feel like you are not achieving your goals.
Set realistic targets, and be ruthless with time-wasting tasks. Be flexible and don’t be thrown by unexpected change
3. Learn the art of delegation
When you are struggling to keep on top of your workload, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel, everything that can be delegated should be. Perfectionists and control-freaks find the art of delegation difficult. It is about letting go and trusting others capabilities. They may not complete the task in the same way or to the same exacting standards as you, but if the end goal is achieved, you have to learn to accept that, that is good enough.
4. Use task management software
If you are still scribbling to-do lists on notepads, you need to wise up. Task management software will save oodles of time and make task tracking a breeze.
5. Use the Pomodoro technique
Ever heard of the Pomodoro time management method? If you haven’t, it is time to liberate yourself from hours of frustration and inefficiency. The Pomodoro technique, developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, is based on the idea that we can work intensely and efficiently for 25 minutes at a time. A short break should punctuate work slots of 25 minutes. Every fourth break should be a longer break.
Use a timer to keep yourself working strictly to the programme. The Pomodoro technique works by keeping you completely focused during the 25-minute work spells, and helps you to manage interruptions. It also makes it easy to predict how many more 25-minute slots you need to complete the task, giving you better work-planning skills.
6. Improve communication and strive for clarity
This is where you bring the human element back into your working day. It is brilliant to have a multitude of web-based tools to help streamline your workload, but as an office manager, you still need to communicate with the staff. Bury your head in tech, and you are just asking for problems.
Sitting down as a team will bring more ideas to the table and help bring about better, workable solutions to any problems. Schedule a weekly meeting with your team to keep on top of current tasks, and every 2-3 weeks brainstorm how you can streamline specific projects to improve efficiency.
7. Just say no!
Don’t be afraid to be more assertive and push back at work. When you are overloaded, it is impossible for you to do everything. Be clear about your priorities. If what is being asked of you can easily be done by somebody else, say no.