July 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio July 2002 Current Issue
July 2002 Back to BasicsPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:

Back to Basics

By Louise M. Felsher, CMM, CMP


Simple ways to spend your days wisely, get the job done right and still be home for dinner

In the unending quest for balance, efficiency and accomplishment, planners battle time-wasting behaviors on a daily basis. With the best intentions to try to please everyone and answer all questions immediately, we tend to get buried beneath unread e-mails, unopened mail and unreturned phone messages. The following tactics should help keep you on track.

It’s all too easy to be in constant contact today. Resist the urge to overcommunicate.

1. Reduce e-mail. Electronic mail can be an outstanding time-saver if messages are well crafted and short. Ideal uses for e-mail are setting up meetings, confirming data, and transferring and sharing documents. When e-mail is substituted as a conversation tool or venting apparatus, it often serves as an instigator of trouble and a time drain on everyone.

The best way to reduce the number of e-mails you get is to send fewer. Use filters for incoming messages they are easy to set up and will delete certain items or route mail into folders you can prioritize later. Dedicate a portion of each day to sorting e-mail and snail mail.

2. Hang up. Learning how to get off the phone gracefully is an invaluable art form. A good line: “Look at the time we should wrap this up.”

If you get unsolicited sales calls for services or products you will never need, simply reply “We won’t use X, and I don’t want to waste your time. Please take us off your calling list. Thank you.” No need to be rude, just firm.

3. Don’t surf. Resist Internet wanderlust. Do casual surfing from home, so you don’t find yourself inexplicably behind on work projects.

4. Invest in good tools. Holding on to an ancient fax machine that takes forever to send a page might cost you thousands in labor and phone charges. Spending a little can save a lot.

Analyze how you spend your workday. Chances are, there is room for improvement.

5. Manage team size. Confusion and time-management problems often result when a team is too large or too small. Large teams can create communication glitches and suffer from too much or too little leadership. Small teams often are unable to complete quality work with the given time and resources. A good formula for a balanced event team: one event leader plus one project manager per 50 participants.

6. Keep to-do lists. Take the time to delineate all your tasks preferably the day prior. Categorizing the urgency of your tasks helps allow for contingencies.

7. Take breaks. Fatigue is the greatest contributing factor to inefficiency and errors. Get enough sleep. Walk away from your office occasionally. Take a full lunch hour. Go home on time.

8. Procrastinate. Sometimes holding off on a decision saves time particularly if you sense changeis imminent. Trust your instincts. Problems regularly resolve themselves or mutate. Reconsider signing a contract immediately or scheduling meetings that are not urgent.

Appointments that seem the most expendable on your daily calendar might actually be well worth your while.

9. Take sales calls. Make time for vendors you might use in the future. Keep the conversation short, and save business cards. File all data for easy reference as needed.

10. Be social. Choose your social commitments wisely, but realize that cutting them out completely will create extra work in the long run. The networking you engage in now will help later when you can look someone up in your Rolodex who can solve a problem quickly. Furthermore, your career ladder will shorten and suffer if you don’t have valuable contacts.

Louise M. Felsher, CMM, CMP, is a free-lance strategic marketing consultant in Northern California’s Silicon Valley.

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