Re: Efficiency

Subject: Re: Efficiency
From: Ad absurdum per aspera <JTCHEW -at- LBL -dot- GOV>
Date: Fri, 8 Jul 1994 23:30:27 GMT

Here are some edited excerpts from a long-ago sci.engr posting
whose author's name I did not record. (If you catch the
crossposting, feel free to step forward and take a bow. Your
accidentally anonymous wisdom has hung on my corkboard for
some time and helps me greatly, especially when I act on it. :)

"Just another personal opinion from the People's Republic of Berkeley"

Ten Concepts That Will Aid in Effective Time Management

(1) Most work problems are caused by procrastination.
Research has shown that roughly 65% of all tasks need
to be completed that very day; 25% within 2-7 days;
5% within 8-30 days; and 5% later. Let this knowledge
aid in your planning.

[Since we've been discussing to-do lists, let me add
that some unknown percentage of tasks, presumably not
included in this data set, turn out to be unnecessary
or inappropriate with time. The difference between
procrastination and this analogue of Occam's Razor lies
in being able to spot the silly things accurately. -jc]

(2) Every few months we must have a personal audit,
reminding ourselves of what we have and haven't
accomplished. Most people can't remember even one-
fourth of what they did yesterday.

(3) During the first 15 minutes of the work day, a
productive person will most likely do something like this:

* write down or review a work plan for the day;
* rate and order each task according to potential payoff;
* discuss the work plan with somebody else.

(4) The most productive period of the day, for most folks,
is 9-11 a.m. Most are worthless from 4:30 until evening.

(5) If I consume 24 ounces of coffee in a 4-hour period,
my average attention span after that is about 8 minutes.

(6) The worst office layout for productivity has the desk
facing the door, inviting eye contact with passers-by.
Some good ideas include facing away from the door; putting
the phone where it is not constantly visible; limiting
piles of paper on the desk; and choosing comfortable decor.

(7) Be gracious but ruthless. You should harden yourself
against the temptation to do the work of someone else in
order to be nice or make sure the job "gets done right."
New employees assigned to your care in particular will
become more effective by doing their own work.

(8) Three quarters of all business calls do not reach the
intended person, and 90% of phone messages are blank or
only say "So-and-so called." A lot of folks also get upset
if the phone rings when they are on a roll. Make specific
telephone appointments with the hard-to-reach through the
people who answer the phone; leave useful and descriptive
messages; and turn off the ringer at productive times.

(9) The most important pieces of meeting equipment are
paper and pen. My ideas have a useful life of about 27
seconds unless recorded. Meetings should include a
descriptive agenda, including action item and time limit
for each subject and a time limit for the meeting as a
whole. Non-agenda items should follow, and announcements
should come last.

(10) Eighty-five percent of New Year's resolutions are
broken within 14 days. To change a practice, work on it
consciously for at least 21 days, thus giving yourself a
fair chance to succeed by doing it until it becomes

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