Time Management Systems Help us Soar!
by Denise Landers

On a recent airplane flight, I thought of all the systems that are in place to get us from one destination to another as efficiently as possible.


Consider the rapid turnaround of planes these days. When the arriving passengers disembark, their luggage is taken off, the plane is refueled, a maintenance check is done, the interior is cleaned, a new crew boards, luggage is loaded, food and drinks placed on board, and the new passengers settle in – often all within 30 minutes. Then we’re soaring to our next destination.

Taking Off

We don't buckle up in our seats and then wait while the pilot rummages through stacks of papers, old charts, unread magazines, and empty food containers, trying to figure out what the present destination will be and then where the directions are for that destination.

We expect these procedures to go smoothly and rarely give the process any thought. The pilot boards knowing exactly what he is going to do. There is nothing in that cockpit that is not specific to the job at hand. He has a set of procedures that he follows, in a set order, to make sure nothing is skipped. We count on that, for both punctuality and safety. When something does goes awry and we are delayed for any reason, we're disappointed. If a plane has an accident, we're shocked.

Yet do we expect the same of ourselves in our business endeavors? Consider your desk or your work area as the cockpit, driving the segment of the business for which you are responsible. Take a look around you. Is everything as streamlined as it could be? Are there any extraneous materials that do not pertain to the job at hand? When you come to work in the morning, do you know immediately where to begin, or are you shifting through papers and clutter to determine where to focus first?

With a good system in place, your work has been prioritized the night before. When you come in, you know what your schedule is and what you want to accomplish this day – your destination. Nothing will fall through the cracks because you have a procedure to record every task and follow-up that has to happen.

The Crew

You also should expect those around you to be handling their work spaces with the same efficiency. Consider what would happen to our flight if everyone were following the systems needed to get the plane turned around except for one group

Suppose the cleaning crew didn’t pay much attention to the exact timing on their schedule. They knew they were going to clean planes today, but some friends from another unit stopped by so they had a brief visit and chat. Then someone had to make a personal telephone call. When they got to the plane, they found they didn't bring all the supplies they needed, so someone had to go borrow materials from another cleaning crew. Meanwhile the boarding and subsequent take-off is delayed.

Even though everyone else did their jobs, following procedures and schedules, the repercussions of this one group's delay trickle on down to all of the planes following after.

This may sound far-fetched but it occurs in some form every day in offices everywhere. We may be efficient ourselves, but there’s often one person whose desk is stacked, who has to constantly ask for duplicates because they can't find what they need, who is easily distracted, and who forgets to follow up. We tolerate that and make jokes about it, but ultimately it’s not just that one person in the organization that's affected, it's everyone around that person. If you are working with someone like that, you are subjected to disarray, interruptions from them, and not being able to count on them to be as efficient as they could be in doing their share of the work. All of these results impact on the rest of the team.

Each of us needs to be working like the pilot. Know what your schedule is, establish a prioritized plan of action, have the materials you need on hand, and get rid of any unnecessary matter around you that does not pertain to the job at hand so that you can focus on what needs to be done now.

We count on that when we do business with other companies. Shouldn't they be able to expect the same from us? If you want to get your business off the ground, set up systems that will help you soar!

Denise Landers, productivity trainer, organizing specialist, author of Destination: Organization (http://www.keyorganization.com/destination.asp) and owner of Key Organization Systems, Inc. has spent years speaking, training, consulting, and coaching on the topics of time management and effective workflow. To find easy ways to prioritize, focus and improve your team productivity, subscribe for free monthly articles on time management and organizing topics at: http://www.keyorganization.com/articles.aspx

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