How do you manage a full-time job in 80% hours?(9 Posts)
Just that really. I work 80% over 5 days, that is a total of 6 hours a day, 30 hours a week.
I used to work approximately 10-7; now I have to leave by 5 at the latest (I'm a single mother and my DD is 2.4 and full-time at nursery).
I work in the communications department of a large organisation, mainly working on my own projects within a team of around 25. I have one support person and an intern reporting to me. I have some room to delegate but not much.
I find I just can't manage to get through the work, even though I've shed one task since my latest performance review.
I think one major problem is that due to my working pattern involving attendance during core hours of all 5 days I still attend 100% of meetings and answer 100% of emails. Also, my time seems to be frittered away on small (or small-seeming tasks) and I don't make headway on my more strategic projects.
I don't want to drop too many tasks as I risk getting sidelined into uninteresting work without prospects for further development (I'm not ambitions in career terms however and don't have the capacity to move into a management position which basically would require me to be full-time or even a bit more).
I'm really looking for practical tips as to how to get through more tasks in the day, or recommended reading.
No experience of working less than full time but, can you drop some meetings? From my experience some are more useful than others iyswim, if they are weekly meetings could you attend every other or monthly? This could free up hours of time, my last md did seem to like certain meetings to go on forever good luck
No lunch, no chatting and no coffee is how I get through my days.
And I never attend a meeting unless its absolutely necessary.
I reply to emails in my way to and from work as much as possible although obviously have to check throughout the day as well.
And I take my laptop home most nights and do an hours work while waiting for dinner to cook
Tough as it may be initially, you need to allocate time to the strategic projects first, before getting dragged into the other day-to-day. To do this, try the following tactics:
Look at what meetings you can afford not to attend during a particular week, but get a precis on what happened from another attendee at a more suitable time.
Close down your email for half an hour/an hour each day. It is amazing how much you can get done without the little envelope distracting you. (If you're worried about missing an urgent email, just put on an out of office advising you're contactable by phone).
Sit down with the support person and the intern and plan out how many of the 'smaller' items they can start to deal with (yes, they may make mistakes at first, but that's part of the learning process). It will help keep them engaged and allow you to get entire pieces of work out faster. Have a ten minute meeting with them at least daily, and a formal meeting (if not already in place) for half an hour weekly.
If you can, either in the final ten minutes of the day, or when travelling home, jot down what 'bigger picture' items need working on, and what elements of these need completing the following day.
Are there meetings you can bow out of?
Do you have your email envelope notification thingy switched off? I try to only check email periodically.
Can you be ruthless with email - only reply if you absolutely have to, particularly internal emails.
Are you able to do anything in the evening - even just deleting irrelevant emails!
I try to identify tasks that are urgent or important and park the rest.
Can you take the odd day at home to work on planning and prioritisation away from distractions.
I try to use the phone as much as possible or go and see colleagues rather than emailing where I can - it can be a lot quicker.
Think about when you are freshest and most productive and schedule your most difficult tasks for that time of day or week. I actually get most done on Friday afternoons weirdly so that's a good day to do things I've been putting off.
This is a great opportunity to really focus on what's important and drop anything you can get away with dropping!
Great suggestions, I am taking note. My most productive hours always used to be 4-7 pm when I had built up some momentum and would get into 'the zone'. I need to find ways of getting a long enough block of time to do the same in my shorter working days. Switching off email is a good suggestion, as is working from home occasionally. I drive so can't use commuting time. Evenings are also difficult as i handle all the child care and mealtimes alone, but I do try to do some reading here and there.
Lots of good advice on here already. I freelance now, but I used to work p/t so my advice would be:
* Be as organised as you can be, when overwhelmed it can be easier not to bother with a to-do list etc. Keep a list, keep adding/de-prioritising. I try (but do not always manage) to follow the general principles of Get Things Done en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Getting_Things_Done.
Which means keeping an active to do list which has a list of the next actions on it, so not:
- "Start project A" but
- "Start project A - call Claire, set up folder on network, read material"
I also then file emails in "Action", "Waiting" and "Someday" boxes. There is a UK company that has done a book on the GTD approach and they also offer training - www.thinkproductive.co.uk/
* Agree about the meetings, be cut throat about what you can/should attend, send your support if possible? If you worked 4 days rather than 5 shorter days you would have to miss some meetings...
* Delegate everything you can and set up a system (if you don't already) of enabling your support/intern to be able to feedback to you, so weekly catch ups & monthly 121s?
* Let go of perfection (if you are holding on to it!) - you need to do a good enough job in the time you have. Not easy in Comms where output needs to be high.
* Accept that you cannot do everything. I don't think there are many jobs where one leaves thinking "I have done everything today". Try to achieve the 3 must do jobs/tasks each day and anything else is a bonus.
As an aside I use a free time tracking tool to help me with my invoicing now I am freelance. www.paymo.biz/ It is really interesting to see for a particular client who I do work on lots of things/projects for, where my time goes. It could be worth tracking your own time over a month just to see where it goes?
And finally, do you have an 80% job or are you effectively being asked to do a 100% job in 80% hours? I know lots of people (including myself) who were granted the flexible working they asked for, but the reality is the same level of work is required.
If that is the case then you need to speak to your boss. I know what you are saying about missing out on opps etc, but if you are being set up to fail it might not work out well anyway. Just a thought.
Oh, and be strategic about what you volunteer for. I was always one for taking on extra projects/work, but I think you need to be careful and think "what will it give me, is it important?" etc.
Brilliant. I'm also a fan of GTD but can't find the time to reread it.
I've just had a quick look at paymo and will download the app. Yes I definitely need this.
I think I could probably do my job in 80% hours if I were supremely efficient but I am not. I work hard but not as effectively as I could.
I've already delegated more today and feel better for it. I also attended an utterly pointless meeting (these are thankfully rare) but used the time to think about some planning and follow-up on other projects. This also made me think about LadyWidmerpool's suggestion to think about what I could do in the evening. I don't want to go into my email because I'll never get away from it, but I could usefully use some evening time to do some thinking, planning and drafting of difficult emails that I can then just copy and send in the morning.
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