Working efficiently can pay dividends

Like you, I'm always on the lookout for tips that will help me save time and stay organized. Here are some that have worked for me.

·        Establish weekly "quiet time" for myself or your entire work team. During this pre-established time, have someone take all calls. You'll be amazed at the increase in productivity.

·        Schedule regular "open door" sessions every week. For example, Tuesday and Thursday from 8:30 to 9:00 a.m. might work for you. Your team members can grab you for quick questions and information. This might be a necessity if you're normally away from your desk much of the day.
Keep desktop papers sorted into three folders. Label them to indicate their priority. For example, "immediate," "important but not immediate" and "reading." Use labels that work for you. Maybe "A," "B," "C" is all you need.

·        When your "immediate" file starts to bulge, something's wrong. Re-prioritize, delegate more or examine your working style.

·        Keep a "to do" list and carry it with you to meetings. Something may come up at the meeting you'll want to add. If the meeting is delayed, you may have time to write that short memo or make a quick call. Star the items you must finish that day.

·        Ask your administrative assistant to sort your mail. He or she can collect junk mail in an expandable folder and route it once a week. You'll be surprised at how much time this saves.

·        In a central location, post a sheet of paper on which team members can write their agenda items (and their initials) for the weekly staff meeting. If there are no items, cancel the meeting. The posted agenda reminds unit members to bring pertinent information and makes it easy to list an item before forgetting it.

·        Keeping the agenda posted is easier than remembering to route it beforehand. Frequently, the problem is seen and solved by other team members before the meeting.

·        If you receive many phone messages and play "telephone tag" regularly, ask your staff to help you by getting a complete message as well as the best times to return the call. Every time you return a call, mark an "x" on the message and move it to a separate pile. This will help you remember who you've called and how often.

·        When appropriate, respond on the same memo or letter that was sent to you. If you are faced with a tough decision, and you know you're stalling, choose a day you will make that decision and mark your calendar.

·        "Handle each piece of paper only once" is old advice but it works for many things. If your professional journals stack up and you can't find time to read them, scan the table of contents, mark the articles that interest you and make a copy of them. Carry one with you and read it between meetings or while waiting in line.

·        If you don't have a large wastebasket, order one. Keep it within reach and keep it full.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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