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Category Archives: time management

New article…in press but cuurrently only in corrected proof…

Time banditry: Examining the purloining of time in organizations

Human Resource Management Review, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 1 May 2009
Laura E. Martin, Meagan E. Brock, M. Ronald Buckley, David J. Ketchen Jr.


Time banditry, a variant of counterproductive work behavior, is defined as the propensity of employees to engage in non-work related activities during work time. We extend past research on time banditry in two ways. First, we develop a model of time banditry. It is posited that a significant number of employees engage in time banditry despite their level of engagement with their job and even when productivity levels remain at an acceptable level. Implications of the model are described and testable propositions are developed. Second, we suggest that time bandits as a group are not monolithic, but instead there are at least four types of bandits.
Supervisors need to manage each type with different human resource management practices.

29 April 2009 8:05am

More than half of employees in the Australian finance profession have had to take on extra tasks after staff cuts, but employers are failing to put in place countering work/life balance initiatives, a survey has found.

Almost one in two accounting and finance professionals (48%) works in a department affected by restructuring, according to Robert Half’s research, which involved 366 Australians (and 4,830 workers worldwide).

Some 58 per cent have taken on extra responsibilities as a result of consolidation, and 49 per cent report increased workloads (Australia was second only to Singapore in this regard, where 58% of workers had higher workloads).

Roughly in line with these figures, almost half (48%) of workers are reporting greater stress, the survey says. Some 33 per cent also report lower morale.

Robert Half found that despite these numbers, only 13 per cent of companies have introduced programs to manage work/life balance, and just 35 per cent have increased the level of communication between managers and staff.

According to David Jones, the managing director of Robert Half Asia Pacific, the one rule that employers should currently be living by is: “you can’t over-communicate in tough times”.

He acknowledges that communication can be more challenging when employees and managers are fearful for their jobs, and suggests giving people the opportunity to ask questions anonymously, “in an open forum whereby questions are submitted in an envelope so nobody knows who’s asking [them]. This ensures managers are made aware of the core issues in their departments and gives them the opportunity to respond.

“Without these sorts of initiatives, managers are often left in the dark and staff continue to feel insecure or unappreciated, leading to a decline in productivity,” he notes.

February 28, 2009

Learn to love your diary and you will discover how much you can get done in just 10 minutes.

By Kath Lockett.

A lot of valuable work time is wasted through procrastination, i.e. putting off doing the work facing you and not prioritising tasks properly. It (almost) goes without saying that people are often smarter about putting off tasks than they are when they finally do them.

Procrastination can also make the culprit look extremely busy. If you feel as though you are constantly on the telephone, shifting papers over a messy desk or continually tapping away at your laptop, it is easy to start believing that there simply isn’t enough time to get everything done. You may start with the intention of getting some real work done, but then the emails roll in, meetings have to be rushed to, the message-bank is full and there’s just no time left. Despite this, most people tend to overestimate how long or how complex a task is going to take, especially if it’s one they dislike or have been delaying.

The simplest thing a procrastinator – or anyone who struggles to find time to tie up loose ends – can do is to make friends with their diary. A diary is more than just a place for scribbling down meeting times; it should also be used to block out chunks of time to do your own work. Book yourself the first hour of the day as an appointment. Treatthis hour as respectfully as you would any meeting with your boss or an external client and stick to it.

Don’t waste this hour lingering over your first coffee or losing yourself in emails. Don’t check your email in-box at all until you have planned your first hour as six, 10-minute, quick-and-dirty chunks. It is surprising what you can achieve in 10minutes.

What takes far longer is thinking up excuses for not doing the work, re-reading papers and documents without taking any action and putting them back into the in-tray.

Forget multitasking (or should that be called multi-distracting) and use 10minutes to focus on one task at a time and get it finished before starting on the next one. These are often the jobs that people enjoy the least, so by doing them first you are getting them out of the way and everything on your plate will be more enjoyable. After a few days of these hour-long self-appointments, you’ll find that you’re in the groove of getting the little-but-important stuff done and feeling much less stressed and anxious about your workload.

Here are some of the things you can achieve in 10 minutes:

* Draft a response to a letter.

* Find the information sought by a colleague.

* Return several phone calls.

* Clear your desk by filing or disposing of documents that don’t need action or reading.

* Leave at least three informative phone messages – i.e. your name, job title and unit, any information you can pass on, and the best time and number to call you back on.

* Photocopy, post or scan an important document.

* Delegate a task to a trusted colleague.

* Respond to three urgent emails.

If these 10-minute tasks are done one at a time without worrying about the next job or straying into reading non-essential emails, you will find that your first hour at work will be a very productive one.

Note that responding to emails is listed as the very last task on the list. Emails are a necessarily evil and there may be some urgent ones requiring your attention, but they can also cause too many temptations to forget or put off doing other tasks by getting lost in reading non-essential messages, re-reading old emails or getting bogged in reply-forward discussions that seem to include the entire office as participants.

Kath Lockett is the author of Work/Life Balance for Dummies, published by John Wiley & Sons, rrp $34.95