Time Management-Part 1

One of the biggest problems for young programmers is getting everything done. Time Management becomes very important and sadly enough it is one of the things that they don’t teach in school. Additionally, we want to begin a dialogue with each of our client station programmers as to particular problems with managing their time. Hopefully, 2009 will be a year where we can learn to get more done in less time. With that in mind, here is round one:

1. Learning to say NO! The single biggest management tool I know is the ability to say NO. When we are programming a successful radio station everyone wants our time. We must take control of our time and not let others do it because we can’t say the word NO. Many young people find it difficult to do so when they give answers like “I’ll try” or “I don’t know”, “Can I get back to you?” or “I think I can” Believe me, people take these answers as a “YES”. Here is a four step approach to saying “No” without hurting feelings:

A. Listen to the request.

B. Say “NO” immediately.

C. Give specific reasons for saying “NO”.

D. Offer an alternative.

I have found over the years that this worked for me. It allows you to say “NO” and at the same time offer the requester a solution to their dilemma.

2. Lean to manage your paper work. It is easy to spot an unorganized program director by one look at his desk. Piles of paperwork, magazines, memos, remote requests, etc. Here’s a way to get organized.

a. Take a Saturday and clean off your work space. Reorganize it so that it is functional. Check to see that the environment is comfortable and the work flow is organized.

b. Handle each piece of paper only once. This tip has really helped me to get the clutter off my desk. By handling each piece of paper only once, you won’t have it moving from one pile to another for the next several months. I try to dispose of each letter, memo, etc. when I first read it. “Get it done now” is the attitude to take. Act on it, file it, pass it along, read it or throw it away, but do it now. Also try asking yourself this question, “what’s the worst possible thing that can happen if I throw this paper away?” If you can’t give yourself a good reason to keep it, toss it!

3. Invest in a good calendar and always carry a note pad. I am a believer that you need to have ONE calendar and carry it with you. I have been using the American Express Appointment Book for the past ten years. I keep it current at all times with all appointments, times, trips, etc. Once you get into the habit of keeping an appointment book, Don’t OVERBOOK yourself. Back when I was a young programmer, I used a doctors office appointment book with 15 minute intervals. I loaded myself with appointments every fifteen minutes. If I was late for an appointment or an appointment ran over, I was behind the rest of the day. Allow yourself plenty of time for each appointment and learn to say “NO” when your calendar is too tight. Also, have a note pad handy at all times. I keep one by the telephone, bed, in the car, and one with me so that I can jot down notes as they occur. Once each day I go over these notes and act on them.

4. Make a “To Do” list each morning or the night before. I have always worked from a “To Do” list. I have mine devided into four sections. They are: 1 Scheduled appointments; 2. Tasks to do; 3. Calls to make or return; and 4. projects that are ongoing. Once you have made your list, prioritize the list by placing a number one (1) next to those things that “have to be done”. A number two (2) by those items that should be done. and a number three (3) on those items that can wait if time is tight. Then go to work crossing items off your list, working on one at a time starting with the most important and working your way down the list.

5. Find your best reading time and place all reading into a reading file for that time. I receive tons of faxes, magazines, trades, newsletters, memos, etc. each week. I put these into a reading file. I like to read at night after dinner, at airports, and on planes. I never read when I am at my peak of energy. I use that time for projects.

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