How an Office Manager Can Squeeze More Hours into a Workday
“Doing things is not the same as getting things done.”
That’s a scary thought – scary because it’s true. Even though office managers are crazy busy and going a mile a minute all day, there are plenty of times when they look at the clock at quittin’ time and wonder where the day went and how some tasks didn’t get done.
You’re not alone. It’s incredibly common to stress about having enough hours in the day to finish everything that needs doing – without burning the candle at both ends and staying at work late.
So what can you do to squeeze more hours out of the clock and get everything done?
Make a daily to-do list – and don’t overcommit. Prioritize the must-dos for each day and week by numbering them in order of importance, and don’t be afraid to push tasks to the next day or week if they aren’t urgent. (If everyone stayed at work until ALL the work was done, we’d never leave.) A day planner is helpful for organizing to-dos per day and week.
Don’t multitask. Yes, we know – all you do is multitask – but hear us out: It’s actually not possible to multitask effectively. This doesn’t mean you can’t jot down notes while on a phone call – it means that you shouldn’t attempt to be fully immersed in more than one task that takes your full mental energy.
Keep a pen and pad handy. If it’s good enough for Richard Branson, it should be good enough for you, right? They don’t need to be deep thoughts – but if you suddenly think, “I need to do X at Y time,” write it down. Your scribblings don’t even have to be work-related – you can write reminders for personal tasks like picking up dry-cleaning, which will get them out of your mind and help you focus at work.
Track your time. Do you feel like you spend all day on one task constantly? Keep track of what you do each work day for about a week, and then examine your week. Is there one task that eats up a ton of your time that you could somehow streamline?
Box off specific amounts of time for long-term and/or large projects – it helps you chip away at them a little at a time. Yes, the phones will still ring and interrupt you, but you can go back to what you’re doing after the call, knowing that you have reserved this time specifically. It also helps to bear in mind when you are most productive (certain days of the week or times of day), and schedule accordingly.
Make 60-second decisions. Decision making can be a time suck, especially for perfectionists. Your first instinct is more than likely correct, but give yourself a minute to think it through a bit – then act.
Don’t hold meetings if you don’t have to – they are notoriously unproductive for the most part. While you don’t have control over anything your higher-ups schedule, you can avoid wasting your time scheduling your own meetings if they can be avoided.
Let technology help. You don’t have to do everything on your own – there are tools out there that can create more hours in the day. Fleet management software can help organize and simplify daily operations, as well as automate some tasks like updates to job orders – instead of you getting on the phone with the guys in the field, you can update job details and send them to their mobile device. If a customer calls with an emergency order, you’ll have visibility of what drivers are where on a near real-time dashboard – no need to play phone tag as you scramble to fill the order. And monotonous tasks like invoicing can be done in a few clicks, eliminating a big time suck and a whole lot of drudgery – and no papers to file later when it’s all stored digitally, in the cloud.
Fleet management software can help make all these other tips doable, too – fueling those 60-second decisions and allowing a more streamlined, organized day. You’ll be able to do more productive work and still get the small yet important stuff like invoicing down – meaning you won’t have to be at work till 8 p.m. and can instead enjoy what weekday nights are all about: trashy television.
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