A key activity of our Annual Conference is the roundtable discussion. At the October 2017 Annual Conference in San Diego, Greg Bowen, ALMA Board Member, facilitated a discussion on best time management practices for busy lab managers. Attendees were asked to provide inputs in three areas: What takes up our time? What should we be spending more time doing? What solutions do you use to manage your time better? Over the next several weeks we will be sharing points from those discussions as part of a three part series to help you better evaluate and devise strategies to make your day more productive.
What specifically is it that takes up all of our time?
Why are we so busy?
Conference roundtable participants identified several tasks which take up a lot of time during a lab manager’s day. Use this list as a start to inventory what makes your day so busy. Once identified, some of the tasks can be streamlined, better scheduled, delegated, etc. Feel free to share this with your peers and start the discussion.
– Emails: Managers spend a lot of time reviewing and responding to emails.
– Instant Messaging: While IM’s are quicker and generally shorter than emails, they also occupy managers’ time. Do you think IM’s are replacing emails? What is the best form of communication? Our participants considered emails as a form of documentation and IM’s for quick messaging.
– Drive-Bys: It seems that in an open office environment staff and others often drop-in. Cubicles make this worse as there is no door to close. Impromptu discussions on purchasing and lab related issues tend to happen in this manner.
– Arguing with support services: This includes purchasing, IT, and PC security related issues.
– Meetings: All of our participants agreed that meetings occupy a major part of most managers’ days. These include project meetings, personnel meetings, scheduling, sales, budgeting, and other industry meetings.
– One on one meetings with direct reports: The majority felt that an hour with each direct report at least once a month is a good idea.
– Other time sinks :
– Damage control/”putting out fires” and dealing with internal and customer problems and issues.
– Outsourcing and dealing with vendors.
– Making decisions.
– Special projects.
– Laboratory Operations.
– Constant communication (calls and emails) at all hours.
Part II will focus on What are we not doing, or what should we be spending more time on?