Organizing Your Workday – High School Style

Organizing Your Workday – High School Style

watching_clock

Remember high school when you had eight periods and at the end of each period the bell would ring?  Then you would get up and have ten minutes until your next class.  Remember?? I do, and sometimes I think about how efficient that system was.  Think about it….In 50 minutes (or however long a class was) a teacher would plan out exactly what they could do in that time period and by the end of the period chances are the students’ attention for that particular subject was at its end and the teaching for that day would be done. If something didn’t get finished, it might wait til the next day, or the students might take it with them to finish later in study hall perhaps. When you think about it, this is really not a bad way to work things – even in the workplace.

So I have tried this. When I sit down in the morning, I will set a timer for about 45 minutes. During that time period, I will work on one specific thing. For the first part of the morning I might focus specifically on getting through my e-mails and setting the schedule/focus for the rest of the day. Then when I am done and the timer rings, I will get up and stretch my legs, or reheat my coffee. I might see how much of my house I can pick up in those few minutes (and I usually surprise myself with how much I get done.)  Then, when I sit back down to work, I focus on sourcing from a particular tool for the next 45 minutes. I won’t check my e-mail during this time and chances are if someone IM’s me I might not answer them until I finish this task (IM is so rude, isn’t it?) Then, when I am towards the end of this time period and I feel good about my progress, I will respond to new IM’s or E-mails or voicemail. I love how much I get done using this method.  Having this type of structure in my day creates a ton of efficiencies that I didn’t have before I organized my time into periods of sorts, and gave myself periodic breaks. I find that when I come back and focus on my new “subject,” I am refreshed and get a lot more done!

This is also a great way to empower yourself with control over your day. I feel more in charge of my day and my calendar by doing this. I don’t let constant IM’s or e-mail take me off focus (unless it’s something urgent that truly can’t wait.) Now granted, not everyone can structure their ENTIRE day like this, but maybe you can set a few hours up where you are completely focused on a particular task with no interruptions and end with a small break or reward. Too often, people let others control their time with constant demands (haven’t we become a rude society with IM’s or phone calls being so intrusive?) Even if you are in a role that is customer service oriented you should try this for just a small part of your day. Wouldn’t it feel great to have more control over at least a portion of your time?

What are your thoughts on doing this? Have you ever tried organizing your day like this?

Becki Jacobs is a lead technical recruiter for one of the largest IT companies in the world.  She has an MBA with a focus in HR Management along with over 15 years of experience in HR and Recruiting.  Previous to her current role she spent 8 years as a top performing recruiter for a professional staffing company where she recruited for companies such as Xerox, Johnson and Johnson, JP Morgan Chase, Citibank and EDS.

Photo Source: http://www.clipartheaven.com/show/clipart/business_&_office/cartoons_%28n_-_z%29/watching_clock-gif.html

Is the grass greener?? Leaving your job in a down economy…

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.  I’m sure you have heard that clichĂ© before.  I made up a similar one – the next rock might not be more stable than the one you are standing on now.  Both of those thoughts come to mind when I think about people leaving their current job for another position right now.  It’s kind of a scary thought to be honest.  I won’t say it’s never the right decision in these times, however it requires a lot more thought and research than it would in a thriving job market.

I thought I might share some things to think about before you leave your current job…..for greener pastures….or a better rock.

1)  LIFO.  If you are an accountant (or a business major who ever took Accounting 1) you will know what this means, for sure.  Last In First Out. This can very often apply to the way companies make cuts when they do a layoff.  Hopefully they will bring you in for your expertise and then maybe keep you over someone else because of that.  However, think to yourself where you might fit in if things don’t go as well as the company hopes once third quarter results come in.  What are you bringing to the table?  Do you have a skill or knowledge that the company has been looking for or are you sales trainee #32 on a 32 person sales floor?  Are you coming from a position of tenure and knowledge to a position of newbie in training?

2)  Is your next position going to resolve the reasons for leaving your current job?  Are you leaving for pay?  Well, if your next job pays more, do you have to work 10 more hours a week to earn that new paycheck?  Does the cost of health insurance at your new job offset this pay difference?  If you are leaving because you have issues with your current manager are you really that sure your next manager is going to be any better?  Do lots of research and maybe even make a list of the reasons you are leaving your current job and whether the new job addresses those issues.  Try to talk to people that work on your team and not just managers when you interview.

3)  Open the books on the company.  There is so much research you can do on a company these days and before you take a new job you had better take advantage of some of the info that is out there.   Websites like Glassdoor.com provide insight for prospective employees into companies.   Google the company and the word “layoff” to see what their pattern has been.  Take a look at their quarterly earnings and articles about their products or services.  What type of market share does this company have – is it growing or declining?   Is their product in a growing or declining market?

4)  What type of position are you taking?  While I will admit sometimes the work involved in some contracts sounds more interesting, they are very often less stable.  Anyone who has ever contracted knows that you are very often the first ones on the chopping block.  Plus, that is the very reason why companies hire contractors – flexibility!  I know sometimes the money even sounds better – but when you take into account the cost of benefits, vacation time and sometimes self-employment taxes, you might not always end up in a better financial position with a higher hourly rate.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I really don’t think there is anything wrong with contracting, however I would just caution someone before leaving a full-time role for a contract.

5)  Are you magnifying the problems in your current position?  I won’t go on and on about this point, but sometimes we over analyze our jobs to the point that we forget the good points.  No job is perfect, however, sometimes we get so caught up in everything that is wrong with our job that we tend to forget about all the great things.  Do you have lots of flexibility or have you built up a good foundation of respect in your current role?    If you current manager leaves you alone for the most part and that bothers you – try working for a micro manager!   Do you have great hours and a close commute?  A new job might put you on the least desirable shift until you learn the ropes.

Even in a tough economy there are great reasons to leave your current job for a different more exciting and potentially more rewarding role.  If you do your research and examine your options from all angles you will mitigate some of the risk  involved in switching jobs now.  Sometimes you might find that this new job is worth taking the risk of being last in and sometimes you might just discover that the grass or the rock you are standing on right now really isn’t so bad.  Good luck!

Becki Jacobs is a lead technical recruiter for one of the largest IT companies in the world.  She has an MBA with a focus in HR Management along with over 15 years of experience in HR and Recruiting.  Previous to her current role she spent 8 years as a top performing recruiter for a professional staffing company where she recruited for companies such as Xerox, Johnson and Johnson, JP Morgan Chase, Citibank and EDS.

Photo Credit – Picket Fence by anankkml – http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Garden_and_Exterior_g157-Picket_Fence_p22956.html