(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY I've been enjoying time-management guru Laura Stack's latest book, "What To Do When There's To Much To Do." The book tackles that common workplace complaint -- that people are running around all day, staying later than they want and still don't feel like everything's getting done.
What's going on?
There are lots of potential problems, of course, but it's always possible that you and your team are getting caught in some common bottlenecks. "Never assume the way you do things is the best possible way to do them; in fact, it probably isn't," Stack writes. "It's amazing how many personal inefficiencies we tolerate on a daily basis."
Here are some common woes. Spot any that look familiar?
- You (or your boss) demands to be involved in every small decision
- You (or your boss) quite reasonably demands to be involved in big decisions... but then the decisions don't get made
- Your team is committed to standing meetings that tally into the double digits of hours each week
- Your office suffers from gratuitous "cc-ing" on all emails
- Someone's input is usually required for a project, but this person is evaluated on something entirely unrelated -- in other words, your project is just not a priority
- A colleague constantly claims to be "so busy... I'm working on it...," but is always surfing the Internet
- Someone important in your office communicates in a manner as baffling as the Sphinx, meaning no one knows what the goal is
- A CYA mentality means everything's getting documented multiple times
- No one can find anything when it's in someone else's possession
- People aren't trained on each others' jobs, so unplanned sick days become disasters
- Someone important in your organization has no interest in a personal life, and so doesn't see the problem in scheduling meetings for 7 p.m. when people could be ready at 4 p.m.
All of these problems can be solved, but require some thought. Stack recommends asking at the next staff meeting, "What are the three most mind-numbing, time-wasting hoops you must jump through on a weekly basis?" Then, this is the biggie: "Don't get defensive or combative. Instead, scribble down everything people say and soak it in."
Time is money, and if your team is stuck in a bottleneck, they're probably not making as much money for you as they could.
What are the bottlenecks in your office?Photo courtesy of Flickr user Tambako the Jaguar