Category Archives: Time management

I didn’t have time

I didn't have time

 

 

How often do your team tell you “I didn’t have time to do that”?

Now more so than ever, with extra demands on your team with additional safety procedures, you’ll probably hear “I didn’t have time”

Irrespective of Covid precautions, how often have you asked someone to complete a task only to discover some time later that it’s not been done because they tell you “I didn’t have time”?

I’m sure it’s happened to you, and I’m certain your managers and supervisors hear this ‘excuse’ all too frequently.

And no doubt at some point you’ve been the one saying “I didn’t have time”!

In fact, it’s one of the biggest barriers I come across when I’m helping businesses make improvements either in their customer service culture or with management development; i.e. when people believe they don’t have enough time to devote to the actions they know they need to take.

It can be very frustrating for anyone when they know what’s expected but they feel under pressure to do the task to standard. And when they feel under pressure one of four things can happen:

  • They simply don’t do the task in hand
  • They do it, but cut corners in that task or try to make time by cutting corners elsewhere, either way resulting in silly mistakes or not completing either task to standard
  • They drop another task to make time
  • They complete the task but only by having to put in extra time, which puts them under duress

In last week’s blog I shared some tips on helping people get going on overwhelming tasks, but what if it’s simply routine recurring tasks which aren’t getting done?

If you or your duty managers are hearing “I didn’t have time” from any of your team it’s quite possible that the person doesn’t see the value of the task in hand, in which case it’s important you highlight why it’s important.

However here are 5 other considerations to help you see that the task gets done:

1. Conflicting priorities

Assuming people in your team now have additional duties since returning to work, what tasks have you dropped to make way? People who have been doing the same job for years, will no doubt have a set routine and tasks they’ve always carried out, and unless they are clear which of these are now a lower priority, they’ll very likely feel the need to carry on with these.

If these are tasks in which they’ve always taken a pride in doing well, these may be things it’s difficult to drop.  Telling them not to bother with It any more can give the impression these tasks weren’t valued, or the standards they’ve maintained aren’t appreciated. So tread carefully.

If team members report to different managers on different shifts, ensure each and every manager is placing the same level of importance on each task.

2. Reactive tasks, distractions or interruptions

All too often important tasks can take a back seat due to the number of re-active tasks people have to deal with.

As with the overwhelming tasks discussed last week, https://www.naturallyloyal.com/how-to-beat-overwhelm/ help team members schedule time for important tasks, which might mean that others in the team have to be the ones dealing with the reactive tasks at that time.

Distractions can of course come in the form of time wasting activities such as extended breaks, too much socialising, or running errands for people that have nothing to do with their responsibilities, in which case it may be necessary to go back to the importance of the task or review conflicting priorities.

3. Takes too long

If you believe there should be ample time to complete all their tasks, it’s worth analysing how people approach their tasks and if any (or all) are taking longer than they should.

Are they approaching the task in a round about way? If so maybe some retraining or guidance is needed. Or their expectation is for perfection, above and beyond what is really necessary. Are they disorganised so have to keep to-ing and fro-ing to gather the tools or resources they need for the task?

4. Poor systems or equipment

Tasks can take longer than they should (or simply be put off indefinitely) if people have tools or resources that aren’t up to the task. (see last month’s post on Spotting Problems

5. Bottle necks

If your team members are dependent on others – colleagues, suppliers or customers – are these causing bottlenecks in the process?

For example, if someone can’t finish a task until a supplier has delivered one of the tools or resources for the task, and this doesn’t arrive until minutes before the end of their shift, that might leave the task incomplete when they leave. So the issue here is more to do with when orders are placed or delivery times with the supplier.

Take action

If you only do one thing. Next time someone tells you they have not had time, ask questions to analyse if it’s down to one of the above reasons.

Related video: I didn’t have time on YouTube


How to beat overwhelm

How to beat overwhelm

 

 

10 tips for getting going on the one thing we should be doing and avoiding the overwhelm

I’ve recently been pruning rhododendron bushes in my garden; ones that had got completely overgrown. It wasn’t a five minute job, but an overwhelming task I’d been putting off for months.

As I was sawing through one of the branches I was getting more and more frustrated that the saw was not up to the job. But instead of stopping to sharpen the saw or get another one from the garage, I kept on going. It was only when I finally relented and went to get another newer saw I realised just how blunt the other one was.

If you’re familiar with Stephen R Covey’s book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” you’ll know the 7th habit is “Sharpen the Saw”. This was (quite literally) what I was failing to do, and the result was frustration and the task taking far longer than it should.

I was also reminded at the weekend of another book “The One Thing” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, who pose the question “What’s the ONE THING you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

In this case, stopping the task and sharpening the saw or finding a replacement was the one thing.

How often do we not do the one thing we should be? Particularly when we are faced with so many potential tasks we could or should be doing. All those urgent and reactive tasks often take over and mean that we never step back and do the things that could be saving time and effort later.

Such as:

  • Training people in our team to do routine tasks so we can delegate them in future
  • Setting up new systems or procedure everyone can follow to ensure consistency and things don’t get forgotten
  • Rewriting parts of our website so it provides additional useful information for our customers which answers their commonly asked questions

Often the reason these pro-active tasks don’t get done is because they can be overwhelming, or we don’t know where to start.

How to beat overwhelm

So here are 10 tips to help you – or any of your team members – to beat overwhelm – as you prepare to re-open or in the aftermath of your first few weeks of trading.

  1. Make a list of everything that needs doing. Involve your team as they’ll often highlight things you’d otherwise miss. Or, if you’re new to your role, you may even discover some of the work has been done already
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  2. Prioritise your list focusing on important tasks and those which add value opposed to ‘the nice to do’s’
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  3. Often tasks are only overwhelming because they are too large to do all at once. Break tasks down into the smallest possible action. This makes it easier to chip away at the task
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  4. Identify tasks that can be easily delegated and brief the appropriate person. Better still, review your task list with your team and ask for volunteers
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  5. Prioritise and schedule the tasks that must be done by you. You don’t always need to start at the beginning! Identify some relatively easy quick wins to get momentum going
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  6. Set yourself a time limit for the task. If you tend to be a perfectionist, decide up front what will be good enough (and make a commitment to stop when you’ve achieved this criteria, instead of investing a disproportionate amount of unnecessary time and effort into making it perfect)
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  7. Decide how you will reward yourself when the task is completed (even if it’s as simple as allowing yourself a coffee break)
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  8. Make a commitment to someone who will hold you accountable, and agree when you will review progress
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  9. Remove distractions and focus on that task for the time you’ve allowed. Setting a timer and keeping this visible can help
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  10. Stop and review at the end of the time set aside, and reward yourself accordingly 🙂

If you only do one thing

Teach your team how to beat overwhelm. Share the above tips with any team members who may be suffering from overwhelm, or need help getting going on any tasks they have been putting off or are struggling to started.