I’ve been running my lab successfully for nearly 10 years, but lately I find myself overwhelmed by the workload and scrambling to stay on top of things. Is it me, or am I just trying to get more done with fewer resources (time and manpower)? Whatever the case, I need some tips for better managing my and my staff ’s time in order to be more productive.
Each lab manager needs to find his or her own methods for keeping track of ongoing and anticipated jobs, and of the time necessary to complete them. However, below are a few time-tested practices for making the most of your time:
- Focus. Concentrate on one task at a time.
- Avoid the temptation to achieve perfection.
- Learn to say no—and mean it. Don’t take on more projects than you can handle; don’t accept new ones along the way.
- Make use of the calendar. Stop taking every e-mail, phone call, meeting, and problem as it comes up, and instead begin scheduling things in a way that makes sense. The key to making this work is to address the tasks, projects, or activities that matter most to you first. Ask yourself, “What’s the best use of my time?” and “Where am I going to get maximum value?” Schedule those things first.
- The 5 Ds:
- Do It. Stop pushing around a task and do it now.
- Delete It. If an item doesn’t advance a relationship or achieve an important goal, get rid of it.
- Delegate It. As often as possible, pass a task on to someone else who can handle the job.
- Decide on It. No more moving items from one stack to another. Make a decision. Move on.
- Date It. Choose when you will give bigticket items your undivided attention and block out the time required in your schedule.
As the poet Carl Sandburg said, “Time is the most valuable coin in your life. You and you alone will determine how that coin will be spent. Be careful that you do not let other people spend it for you.”
For more information, see "Time Management 101" at labmanager.com/time-management-101
Have a question for Linda? Email her at LINDA@labmanager.com