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Author Topic: workload/time management tool needed  (Read 14429 times)
dettu
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« on: November 08, 2011, 03:34:18 pm »

Hello all, I've missed you. In the past year I've simply been overwhelmed by a shift in my team that left me with one person who sucks up 50-60% of my time, leaving me much less time to spend with the other two. He likes to pepper me constantly with small requests, popping into my cube as many as ten times a day (or calling as many times when he's on the road). I tried scheduling a daily meeting with him and encouraged him to cluster several small tasks together but this has been ineffective - he simply heaps more upon me at those meetings and continues the steady rain of tiny things. To him, each thought is urgent as he has it and he absolutely cannot wait to tell me about it - can't, for example, list things and just bring them up at the meeting. Upon review I can see that at least half of his urgent items ARE NOT URGENT and perhaps another 25% of these wouldn't be urgent if he had either planned better or let me in on the process well in advance. I have tried speaking to my supervisor about this...another thing that happened recently was a reorganization, and now my supervisor is a former admin herself, so at least she understands my problem in a way my former boss never did. However, though she has spoken to Mr. U and Mr. U's boss about this numerous times, he continues behaving the way that has always worked for him, and it's clear to me that in the end the problem is mine to solve as no one really has my back.

I just had my annual review and was marked "needs improvement" in the area of planning and executing tasks. My boss indicated that what would be sufficient to address this is a document of some kind that lays out ALL of my work in its many details for all three of the people I support, so that she (and anyone else who wants to look) can see where my time is allocated. This is to be something that I choose. I find big, elaborate documents like this to be cumbersome, generating more work than they help alleviate, but I do not have a choice about whether this will work for me, I absolutely have to do it as it's now factored into my performance evaluations and she intends to check up on it frequently. The document has to track longer, ongoing projects as well as every tiny task he drops on me during the day.

Up to now I have used a simple Excel sheet with columns for date due, item description, and priority (A/B/C). It's sorted by date, then priority, and as I complete an item I shade it, which in the sort order will send it to the bottom of the list. This is insufficient in her eyes and now I need something more elaborate.

I actually have a lot of work to do other than developing time management tools, and I'd be glad to buy a prefab product if it were less than $100, so if anyone knows of a tool like this, please point me to it. Otherwise, I'd be happy to take your suggestions. I have access to the usual MS Office suite, but not MS Project or any project software.
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gee4
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« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2011, 04:11:57 pm »

It sounds like your workplace need to provide you with a tool to manage all this.  It could also take up more time documenting your tasks, than actually doing the work.

My company is such that programme controllers manage anything to do with programmes while the secretaries and admin staff stick to their tasks...the work is completely separate.

Are there other resources you can use within your company to help you out?
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dettu
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« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2011, 04:40:09 pm »

No, gee, no tool exists. Around here it's regarded as a personal failing if your work is too much for your ability to do it, so no tool is available. If I were to ask HR for help with this, it would just be a black mark on my record. They already keep an eye on me because I'm not perky and cheerful, I don't need more trouble from them.
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gee4
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« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2011, 04:50:52 pm »

...it's regarded as a personal failing if your work is too much for your ability to do it

Who said that?  So if you go out on sick leave because you are stressed and work is piling up, it's your fault?  Nonsense.
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msmarieh
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« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2011, 04:59:13 pm »

I think an excel sheet could still work, perhaps just with some added columns of data. What additional information is she looking for the document to include?

I'd be adding some conditional formatting to color code things. You could color code the priority, color code the dates (i.e. red for past due, yellow for coming due in next week, etc.)

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Jackie G
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« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2011, 08:07:34 pm »

I have an excel sheet with formatting to change things to a colour - the colours are fixed though as I've already tried changing it (I was given it to help with something I am doing) and having tried to change it, it then changed out of all proportion.  If you PM me Dettu with your email addy, I'll send it to you happily.  I have it both at work and at home, so whenever I pick up your PM I can send it straight over.  It will hopefully do what you want, and I guess you can also add other columns to it.
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JessW
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« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2011, 10:39:11 am »

Dettu

What about using some sort of daily timesheet with a note function to put exactly what was requested, when it was requested and by who and how much time the task took!

Also, whatever route you take, don't forget to put time down on your 'tasks' sheet for filling out the poxy thing!

Just a thought!

Jess
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gee4
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« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2011, 10:48:15 am »

Jess,

That sound about right.  Booking your time to a programme or project (with a code for each) is what my guys do here.  We can then run a report to ascertain how many hours have been spent on each.
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Atlanta Z3
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« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2011, 05:18:01 pm »

Would outlook tasks work?  If you check the field chooser there are a lot of difference fields to organize around. Priority, who assigned, categories, complete %, cross out when complete and I'm sure you could print a date range to turn into to bossie.  You can sort by almost all the fields to keep priorities or deadlines current.  You could also always keep this open in a separate window to access immediately.
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gee4
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« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2011, 07:23:22 pm »

I don't know of any PA/Admin who manages their work like this or who is expected to.  Unless you are a project controller, I don't see the benefit.

It's not like we spend hours on one particular aspect of our job.  We multi-task, so whilst on the phone with a travel agent you might be emailing someone else about a monthly report.

I don't think this is very good use of your time and is going to be a headache if your employer cannot provide adequate software to monitor it all.

Are they trying to ascertain how busy you are to bring in more staff?  It's already clear to me you are overworked.
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Atlanta Z3
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« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2011, 10:20:27 pm »

This becoming more and more common for admins as they have prove their worth to companies.  The cycle goes around that executives can do their own typing so reduce the admin force.  By managers requesting a job asessment they can prove value add.  A savvy admin will be able to create quickly a time management budget for their position.  I use the journal feature for tracking projects as most of my work is in some form of ms office.  I add categories and can then export to excel and with a few filters show the bosses what I have worked on, who for, and durations.  In one posiiton this garnered a 10% raise because I was able to show 30% of my time was being utlized by another department, yet my own department had not suffered nor was any overtime incurred.
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gee4
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« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2011, 04:02:15 pm »

Atlanta,  sad to say the admins in my company wouldn't even know what the journal function was, let alone know how to use it. 

We submitted a manual version of this exercise a year ago, but to no avail.  The template we completed was never used and we never got feedback...it was a complete waste of time.

I've never heard of PAs having to do this.  If you have to prove your worth then you're in the wrong job/company.  I was good enough to be hired, I've done my job to the best of my ability and beyond, and have stood out above the rest, proving a very valid point.  If I am required to book my time to certain projects or programmes, then I have the tools at hand to do so.

If I get made redundant in the next few months, it's because it will cost too much to pay out redundancy for others, and I am a cheaper option.

Dettu, I do hope this situation gets resolved soon.  It sounds like a complete nightmare.
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Atlanta Z3
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« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2011, 04:25:43 pm »

I politely disagree with wrong jog wrong company.  I know many admins across different industries that are going through various forms of this exercise. Call it time management, efficiency plans, project management for admins.  It all boils down to the same answer if we can't prove value to the company we will be made redundant. Why do we continue to upgrade technical skills if not to continue to be the best support possible to our bosses? 

I recently read on another forum of an admin that went to a second interview with a 30 60 90 day plan if hired tailored specifically to the company and position.  I applaud the initative.  If we in current positions don't have some of the same initiatives new hires are bringing to the table we will find ourselves in the wrong job.
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gee4
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« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2011, 12:05:10 am »

How do you add value to a company if you are not deemed worthy for that process???
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JessW
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« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2011, 09:45:22 am »

Gee

I would say assisting people to do their job better, making their working lives a little easier, making it possible for them to not worry about the little things that take up time, but that they can rely on you to do what is asked in a timely, efficient and proactive way (not having to chase you to make sure things are done correctly etc!)

I believe you are more than capable of that, you just need to be able to show the PTB that (copies of emailed thank yous from whoever you assisted over the last year is a good one!).

I am keeping my fingers crossed for you today!  Good luck!

Jess  Grin
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