Task Management = Time Management

Last week, we discussed how to integrate cleaning up your calendar as part of your annual workplace spring cleaning to help ensure more efficient time management. An important component of time management is efficient task management.

Prioritizing tasks and consolidating information is part of this process, utilizing such techniques as transferring information from various locations and mediums into one, consolidating and prioritizing your task list and calendar by focusing on only those highly important duties and meetings, and creating a more streamlined approach to planning future projects, resulting in higher levels of productivity and more efficient task (and time) management.

Once all of those items are prioritized and organized, scheduling important duties and projects so you don’t get bombarded all at once with a slew of tasks you put off or forgot about is vital to productive project management.

Let’s take a look at HR-related duties and tasks as an example. Many human resource projects jump at us at the start of the year. With January comes employment and labor law updates, and new or modified federal and state regulations. These annual changes typically affect Employee Handbooks and Personnel Policy and Procedure Manuals, and any related or applicable forms.

While the start of the year certainly seems to be a logical time to make these changes (in addition to annual updates such as dates, a fresh look with formatting, or an overall language update to reflect changes to the culture of your organization), scheduling staggered edits to portions of a handbook/manual update throughout the year helps cut down on the time you spend at the start of the year making legal updates.

The review and update of Job Descriptions are another HR-related project that should be conducted on an annual basis, and can easily be scheduled during typical “down time” during the year with regards to client projects and other known duties. Much like staggering edits to your Handbook and Manual, scheduling Job Description edits throughout the year saves you time and stress in the long run.

Efficient task management means effective time management. Contact HRCentral today to discuss how we can work with you to appropriately schedule and make these necessary changes to your HR documentation.

Spring Clean Your Calendar

Efficient time management is vital to the individual success of anyone working in a professional capacity. When it comes to managing your time, what is the one item, the one tool that you use daily that helps keep you on track? Your calendar! Whether that be an electronic calendar (e.g., Outlook) or a desk planner, keeping a tidy calendar is important in ensuring you complete your tasks on time and that you are as productive as possible.

As part of your office spring clean, implement some of these useful tips to organize your calendar, ensuring more efficient time management:

  • Delete Old/Unnecessary Reminders – Did you set a reminder a year ago to make the coffee before your weekly board meeting? Do you have a reminder set to take the trash out every Tuesday? If you no longer need this weekly hint, delete it.
  • Consolidate your Calendars – If you work off of two or more calendars (e.g., multiple email accounts) consider consolidating these down into one. You’ll save time from having to flip back and forth and having everything in one, localized space will help you not double book.
  • Transfer Information – Often we have scraps of paper or sticky notes scattered throughout our office with random notes, to-do lists, and reminders written down (usually jotted down at times we don’t have easy access to our calendar). Transfer all of this info to your calendar, either as a standard task or in the “notes” section, and try to set a time to do this regularly (daily or weekly).
  • Prioritize! – To keep your calendar from getting too cluttered and over-complicated, focus on priorities. The simpler and more streamlined your calendar is, the more efficient it will be, which in turns means more productivity for you. Keep notes short and to the point, and avoid unnecessary reminders and comments.

Over the course of the year, our calendars (particularly electronic ones) can get cluttered and unorganized. Using some of the above tips, and once you have this resource organized, implement and stick to a system for tracking items going forward to yield the best use of your time, and to help ensure less procrastination and less stress in the long run.

Cleaning Up – Your Employee Files

Engaging in spring cleaning in one way or another is a common practice this time of year, and tidying up at work is no less important than it is to clean up at home. For HR professionals and certain “need to know” supervisors, having well organized personnel and confidential files is important in the efficient management of your employees.

It is critical to conduct annual, if not more frequently, reviews of employee personnel, confidential, medical, and other related files (e.g., I-9 and payroll). Not only do well-organized files ensure that items are quickly located, resulting in a more efficient use of time (both for HR and management), but it is vital to regularly audit your files to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations. When conducting an audit of your personnel files, ask yourself the following questions to ensure that these basic guidelines are met:

  • Are files stored and maintained separately, in accordance with relevant state and federal laws? (E.g., are personnel files stored in a locked, secure location, separate from confidential and medical files?)
    • Is access to confidential and medical files limited to HR and managers with a “need to know”?
    • Are documents contained in these files stored in their proper location? (E.g., is leave paperwork stored in the medical file, and are performance and disciplinary documents stored in the personnel file?)
  • Are I-9 forms filled out correctly and stored in a secure location, separate from all other files?
  • Does your organization have policies and procedures in place for document retention and timely destruction of expired documents?

Every organization has their own way of maintaining their employee files. Variations in processes and systems are fine, as long as compliance standards are met and any documentation containing confidential or personal identifying information (e.g., SSNs, financial data, medical information, etc.) is kept separate and secure of standard personnel data.

One of the most important things to make sure of is that whatever procedures you implement for file maintenance are consistent and maintained on a regular basis. Conduct annual, if not more frequent, audits of your employee files and make certain that all employees in charge of ongoing upkeep are aware of best practices and adhere to these policies.

Take advantage of annual workplace spring cleaning to tidy up and review your current systems for safeguarding and organizing your employee files. Contact HRCentral today for assistance with conducting an in-depth employee file audit, or for the creation and implementation of policies and procedures tailored to your organization to ensure files are stored and maintained in compliance with applicable law.

Spring is in the Air!

April is often one month out of the year that marks a fresh start. The dreary weather making way for sunshine is symbolic of the “out with the old, in with the new” mentality that can positively affect not only our personal lives, but our professional lives as well. Spring cleaning plans are being made at home, so why not apply this to your work as well?

Just as important as it is to shampoo the carpets and deep clean the kitchen at home, taking an annual (or even better yet, a quarterly) look at what needs some extra TLC at your office is essential in maintaining a workspace that is free of clutter, ensuring maximum productivity and efficiency. Engaging in workspace organization, both physically and electronically, helps you keep all your ducks in a row, providing a less chaotic way of managing your time.

Tidying up and organizing the physical mess is what we often think of when we hear the word “cleaning.” Sifting through and filing/shredding piles of paperwork, cleaning out desk drawers, wiping down work surfaces, and engaging in a general decluttering of your office space leads to a less stressful work environment, allowing you to think more clearly, leading to higher levels of productivity.

Electronic organization is just as important as cleaning up tangible clutter. If you don’t do this on a regular basis, start with your email account. An easy habit to fall into, we often let our inbox get larger and larger rather than sorting emails into their designated folders as they come in. By creating specified folders (either organized by subject, client/customer, or chronologically), you can move emails immediately after reading, and can even set emails from specific users to automatically be delivered to their assigned folder. Keeping this space organized makes it far easier to refer to information in old emails, saving you time and frustration.

Additionally, take a look at your document folders. Are they organized in a way that allows for the quick reference of data, both for yourself and (if folders are shared with other employees) your coworkers? Archive folders and documents that are no longer pertinent and delete documents that are duplicated or have no importance. Much like decluttering your physical area, organizing your e-files can improve performance and can save you time in the long run.

Take advantage of the spring cleaning mode many of us find ourselves in this time of year to “deep clean” your office and general workspace. The benefits of taking some time to engage in an annual, and then quarterly or ongoing, purge are countless and lead to a more productive and less stressful environment for you to work in.