Time Management: A Supervisor’s Guide

At the beginning of each work day, make a list of everything that you need to accomplish. Then, number each task. The highest priority will be number one, the second will be number two, etc. This list is your outline or work plan for the day. Though you may need to add assignments to it as the day goes on and things come up, try sticking to your original outline. Preparation is the key to efficiency.

A person who works with a “messy” or cluttered desk spends, on average, 1 1/2 hours per day looking for things or being distracted by things. If you work five days a week, this amounts to a total of 7 1/2 hours! An orderly desk, filing system, and work area will help you be much more productive. The less time you spend digging for files and information, the more time you have for doing actual work. Plus, being surrounded by clutter will make you feel overwhelmed. Reduce your stress by focusing on the task at hand.

Don’t procrastinate. Putting off or avoiding unpleasant and intimidating tasks is a huge time waster. Projects that are left to the last minute can quickly become a disaster. Set aside the time you need to complete an assignment and commit yourself to the task. If you need an additional incentive, announce to others that you will have the project done by a specific time. Public commitment is a great encourager. Also, remind yourself of how good it will feel to clean up your unfinished business. If these things don’t work, consider the cost of the delay and the negative impact that may ensue because of it.
Doing things right is important, but you’re not perfect. Sometimes making tiny improvements to a project does nothing but stop you from moving on to your next assignment. Step back and consider the big picture before nit-picking your work. Ask yourself if it would be better to continue polishing or would the wise move be to just let it go and move on to something more important.
You should always arrive for work on time. The same goes for meetings. Showing up late not only sets a bad example for your employees, it also makes you behind schedule right from the start. Make every effort to arrive five minutes early wherever you go.

As a supervisor, it is your responsibility to make sure that the job gets done. To preserve your time, delegate assignments whenever possible. Doling out more responsibility to employees is the new trend in supervision. Most employees will appreciate your trust in them and respond accordingly. Delegate tasks responsibly by choosing the right employee for the assignment at hand. Be sure to offer specific instructions and proper training to ensure success. Most importantly, monitor the project and show your appreciation when an employee performs well.

Never take on more than you can handle. Successful supervisors know when to say no. It may be hard to imagine turning down a request from your boss, but sometimes the best thing to do is to tactfully decline. When you are fully scheduled and given a request, explain to your boss why you don’t have time to take on the assignment. Do not whine; always be professional. Point out why the assignment will prevent you from completing projects that are of a higher priority. Then, suggest alternatives, such as temporary help from another department or from a temp agency. Your boss will probably appreciate your honesty and initiative.

Your work time is valuable, but so is your personal time. A good night’s sleep is an escape from the pressures of work. Getting enough rest will leave you energized and give you the ability to tackle your assignments with vigor. Vacations can do the same thing. As a supervisor, you probably get vacation time or personal time. Utilize it. When you aren’t at work, don’t think about work. Give yourself a break!

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