Time Management – Productivity
However you want to refer to it, if you work for someone else, you are expected to complete a certain amount of work in a certain amount of time. If you work for yourself, you know that you must spend your time being productive in order to get paid. Particularly in today’s economy, businesses are very concerned with getting a maximum return on investment (ROI) from each employee – meaning higher output for less cost.
While this may not be the ideal situation – after all, you want to be paid what you are worth – it does present an opportunity for top talent. By proving your value to a company, you can leverage your abilities to attract great opportunities and demand higher compensation.
How do you do this?
Learn how to automate as much as possible.
No, that was not a typo. You should start learning how to automate parts of your job.
There are a number of protests to this approach. The biggest one is this: like the automotive industry that built Detroit and then abandoned it, won’t automation of your job turn you into an obsolete liability, likely to be laid off at the first sign of trouble?
The answer is: if you are good at what you do, unlikely.
The thing you want to make sure that you do is to differentiate yourself from your peers in a number of ways. To summarize just a few of those points:
- Specialize in your particular area until you know it inside and out.
- Generalize by learning the areas that directly affect your particular portion of the industry – if you develop ABAP programs, don’t be blind to the effects hardware can have on your programs. If you administer SAP, don’t ignore network administration concerns.
- Know your underlying business. Yes, you work in IT, but do you work for a manufacturing company? Then don’t just make IT your only area of knowledge – learn the manufacturing process as well.
- Be proactive in using your specialized, generalized, and underlying knowledge to troubleshoot and present solutions to problems before a company even realizes it is having them.
- Have a mentor who can help you through the tough areas.
- Be ready to teach those who need your insight and advice.
If you have worked hard to add depth to your career instead of just being another set of hands on deck, then anything you do to automate your routine tasks will only make you that much more productive and valuable to your company. And, when jobs are getting shipped overseas and departments are being downsized, you are set to be the one left standing.
So, how can you automate parts of your job so that you can be more effective?
That depends on a number of factors, some of which may be in your control, and some of which might not. Are you an ABAP programmer who can make use of code generators to eliminate the need to write the same code over again? Can you make use of code templates or skeleton project documents?
However you decide to automate, remember as well to practice time management. Time management can be broken down into just a few important components.
- First, prioritize your tasks. Taking this simple step helps you turn from reactive into active. Barring any absolute emergencies, what can you accomplish today that would have the biggest impact on your workload? The biggest impact on the company? Doing this every morning is the best way to start your day.
- Second, always determine what results you hope to accomplish before you start a specific task. What kind of progress do you want to make on a given project today? Setting these benchmarks gives you the same effect as having a deadline and will boost your efficiency at each task.
- Third, remember that, no matter how well you plan your day, you will be interrupted at some points. Build time into your schedule to account for that.
If you are having trouble optimizing your time, try tracking your time each day for a few weeks and see where your problem areas are. Do you get interrupted a lot? Do you tend to put off projects that you don’t know how to do very well? Or do you spend too much time getting distracted by social media?
Make sure that you track yourself honestly – you may be surprised at what you find you’re wasting your time on, and how much of it.
Image courtesy of Nick Ames via Creative Commons