Professional Working Methods

Professional Working Methods

January 1, 2010 Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

When talking about working methods it’s not so decisive to talk about how you use them but it is essential to discuss which methods and tools you choose.

Working methods support you to transform your potential and talent into measurable results. Using effective working methods is a crucial discipline for leaders who want to affect results effectively.

Success is due to hard work, great self-discipline and choosing the right methods and tools. Don’t listen to anyone who tries to convince you that there is a fast and easy way to succeed. There are lots of tools that can support you on your way. Most of them you will find in this blog.

Sometimes they concern management subjects, sometimes they deal with questions of leadership and personal development.

But they all have something in common: they require passion, self-discipline and the deep desire inside of you to become a better leader of yourself and of your folks.

Don’t think so much about how to design these methods. You should rather check from time to time if you’ve succeeded in implementing them into your daily grind.
In this article I want to help you getting aware of essential working methods while improving your ability to organize you and your tasks, projects and other activities.

Always keep in mind that hard work can make you tired at the end of the day but you will never get ill because of hard work as long as you have chosen the right working methods. Once you’ve decided consciously to use effective working tools you gain the deep insight that you just have to work smarter and not harder in order to boost your productivity.

Effective working methods mention and integrate your job and your family, health, your relationships and your financial situation as well. Of course working methods depend on various aspects like your job, your kind of organization, you boss etc. But all these aspects influence just how you are going to implement your working methods and not which one you apply.

The choice of your working methods is just a question of how productive and effective you want to become.

Great results always require the same few organizational tools, like:

  • rising-up early and accomplish unpleasant tasks at first
  • dividing your day and tasks up into small units
  • delegating tasks
  • using e-mail, telephone, fax and letters effectively
  • learning how to write texts quickly
  • using storage and memory systems (content oriented)
  • using checklists
  • organizing follow-ups and of follow-throughs
  • building networks
  • internalizing that management is a craft and problems are your origin working content

Rising-up early and accomplish unpleasant tasks at first

To rise up early makes you more productive. Someone who rises up early plans his day actively and doesn’t look at what happens to him passively.
People who rise up early don’t know any hectic or stress in the morning. They have never heard anything of getting no parking place because of too much traffic in the morning.

People who rise up early are able to do something good for themselves like exercises or meditation. They read their newspapers quietly in the morning while enjoying a cup of coffee.

People who rise up early demonstrate already in the morning that they accomplish in following their consciously made, reasonable decisions.

But following your own decisions leads to confidence.

A great feeling especially in the morning! The best way to utilize this positive energy in the morning is to tackle your unpleasant tasks right at the beginning of the day. It is not very motivating to know that an unpleasant task waits for you. But the more you procrastinate it into the future the more this unpleasant feeling will last.

So use your energy in the morning to tackle unpleasant tasks first and reward yourself afterwards by planning the rest of the day that now just contains tasks which are more pleasant to you. At the end of the day the best tasks are still waiting while you are heading for them with joy and confidence.

Dividing your day and tasks up into small units

Many people reach out for so much but they achieve nothing at all because they are just longing for too much in a too short period of time.

Humans tend to overestimate what they can achieve in a week and underestimate what they are able to attain in a year or two.

But there is no quick and dirty way to achieve your goals without efforts and persistence. Patience and persistence must dominate your basic mindset in order to configure your attitude towards your tasks effectively.

Keep on working on your attitudes. They have decisive impact on your personal success.

Choose those attitudes that support you in the best and most effective way. Don’t look at your goals as future events. Be inspired of them now and take action instantly.

The year consists of 8.760 hours. If you sleep eight hours a night there are still round about 5.840 hours left to dispose. This means 16 hours per day.

Keep on asking yourself the following questions:

What’s the deadline for my project?
How many people can work on it and how much time are they really able to invest for this project?
How much time will this project take in sum?
And what does all this mean for my daily planning?
What are my goals for the next day or week and what must happen to turn it into a successful week?

You must evaluate your expectations consciously at first if you want to assess the achieved results afterwards.

Dividing your day and your tasks up into small units makes them more operable. It also helps you to get aware of your realistic expectations while heading towards your goals.

Delegating tasks

There are two essential criteria for delegating tasks: the first one is importance is the other one is urgency.

Try to assess the daily tasks you’re confronted with using these two criteria. There may be tasks that are very important but not so urgent. These are tasks that have to be put onto your personal timeline. You have to deal with these tasks later on. Reserve an adequate amount of time for them. Very often they deal with strategic and long-term questions. So obviously these tasks are the crucial ones.

Tasks which are important and urgent as well have to be done instantly by yourself. These tasks require your personal attention because they are of great importance and they have to be done instantly because they can’t be procrastinated.

On the other hand you may also be confronted with tasks that are very urgent but not so important. These tasks are predestinated for delegation. They don’t necessarily have to be done by you personally, so delegate them. Delegating doesn’t require a managerial authority. Sometimes you just have to ask people to help you. You will be surprised how often people around you are willing to demonstrate helpflulness.

Last but not least cancel all the tasks that are neither urgent nor important. Your time is too precious for occupying with such tasks. You simply waste your time with them. In most cases nobody will ask for them again and they will disappear from your task list automatically.

It’s a very powerful method to priorize your tasks by assessing them using the criteria importance and urgency.

Keep on being aware of your ability to assess tasks consciously by using these two criteria.

Using e-mail, telephone, fax and letters effectively

Please internalize that multitasking is an unproductive approach to your daily tasks.

It’s a term for people who try to give the impression of being productive.

The truth is that the processing time of each task will increase whereas the quality is going to decrease.

This implies that concentrating on one task is a smarter way to get quick and good results. E-Mail, telephone, fax and letters are the tools of a mental working leader who organizes teams and projects. But many managers forget that these things are just tools and not status symbols of very busy businessmen running from one meeting into another not knowing which mobile phone to pull first.

As soon as these tools begin to disturb tasks that require your full concentration they become counterproductive. Try to organize and to reserve an amount of time doing nothing else than answering your telephone calls. Try to do the same with your emailing too.

Think about what would be more effective in your particular situation: an email or a phone call. Emails have a great advantage: to write something down parallely means to fix it for prospective discussions. People also tend to express a certain content more precisely when they write it down. You will definitely save time by using email because you’ll reduce the time that you will have to spend in gratuitious discussions.

Letters always express a personal intention. Sending a letter demonstrates that you have made some efforts in order to communicate with another person. Greeting cards for Christmas to your friends or customers e.g. should always be sent as letters. Christmas greetings sent by email are nonpersonal and give your addressees a feeling of being one among many others.

Learning how to write texts quickly

Mental workers have to write a lot. It doesn’t matter whether you run a blog as I do or if you work as a lawyer or manager in an industrial company (as I do also).
Writing is a way to document, to communicate, to list, to note, to calculate etc.

So writing will probably take a big part of your working time. This is definitely reason enough to have a look about how you write. Do you write something down with your hand or do you use any wordprocessor? Have you ever pondered if a voice recorder would be a helpful tool for you? It takes some time to practice with it but the increase of your typing speed afterwards will be tremendous.

It is not my intention to recommend one of the tools described above. It certainly depends on your affinities. I prefer to write my creative ideas for a new article down graphically. While gathering ideas and inspirations computers and wordprocessors just interrupt the creative flow. An artificial intelligence is not the right medium to develop genuine living ideas in my opinion. But after having finished the stadium of gathering ideas a wordprocesser helps a lot to edit and to publish the new texts.

Probably it’s not possible at all to publish a text nowadays without using any software programs. These programs will also support you effectively in searching for misspellings.

Voice recorders increase your typing speed tremendously. The slower you can type the more a voice recorder can boost your productivity. They are very useful to note information while you’re on the road. But they’ve mostly helped me to get my handwritten notes into the wordprocessor. Using a voice recorder spares me writing down my notes twice. This saves a lot of precious working time.

Using storage and memory systems

Your storage system should always be a memory system. This means that you should archive your documents in a way you’re able to find them again even 10 years later. Professionals archive their documents always in a context-oriented way. They subordinate every document to a specific topic. The less topics you need the more effective your memory system works. But how to structure such a system ?

A very good way to start a context-oriented memory system is to clear out your workplace. Open a drawer of your desk an take out all the documents you can find there. Put them upon your desk and have a look at each sheet of paper in particular.

Try to find out whether this document is still needed or not. If it is not needed any longer throw it away instantly. If it is still needed find a topic that describes the context of this document very well. Repeat this process for every document you still have on your desk. After having finished this you should take a look at your list of topics. Probably you will find up to 10 topics or even more. The next step ist to reduce the number of topics as far as possible.

Therefore you have to merge several topics and outline them under a new topic. Try to find 3 to 5 topics. All the documents coming up to you in the future must be subordinated to these headlines. If a document should appear that simply doesn’t match your headlines in any way, make up a new topic.

But please try everything at first to integrate your document into the existing system.

Using checklists

A checklist is a very useful tool to accomplish in tasks professionally that occur in
irregular intervals. These are tasks that don’t give you the possibility to become quickly experienced in dealing with them. In most cases they aren’t complicated or
challenging at all. They just require a certain accuracy.

People who are confronted with such tasks just tend to forget mentioning some details. It is perfectly normal to have such problems with them. You just have to choose the right tool to avoid these problems. Checklists are annoying and your will try to procrastinate the writing of a checklist whenever you can. But believe me, there is no better tool to work on irregular tasks professionally.

Organizing follow-ups and of follow-throughs

Making decisions is not enough. Sometimes the decision process may be challenging and ambitious but you won’t get your desired results if you don’t make sure that your people (or you) work on your initialized tasks.

People tend to be sluggish. That’s just normal. Keep in mind that they’re dealing with tasks, projects and activities YOU initalized. They are mainly occupied with content that energizes you at first. You will try to transport this energy to your folks in form of motivation of course. But this may last a certain time. So don’t be too optimistic about the enthusiasm of your team.

Demonstrate accuracy and schedule your tasks. Find regular appointments with your folks where they present the actual status to you. Patience and persistence are the key to success in long-term projects.

You must become the personified conscience of your projects. Nearly everything what can go wrong probably will go wrong. That’s no problem if you integrate this knowledge into your planning. So just stay online and try to predict erroneous trends as early as possible.

Building networks

Nobody knows everything. But most successful people have something in common: they are part of an effective network of genuine value. They’ve learned to connect to people who are interesting in a certain field. If you’re leader of industrial projects for example you are working in a social-technical system. You’re working together with very different characters who come from very different departments.

On the one hand you’re dealing with economic questions and on the other hand you’re always confronted with technical content.

So complexity, intransparency and dynamic enforce you to connect to people who are experienced in various fields. These connections make you more effective and productive.

Building up such a network is a long-term task and there are just a few basics for you to mention while building up a network: be friendly, be interesting and help other people to succeed. The last point is essential. Once you’ve really helped someone to succeed in one of his ambitious tasks he will be a grateful partner for your challenges in the future.

Internalizing that management is a craft and that problems are your origin working content

This point has again something to do with your personal attitude towards your job. Being a manager or leader means doing a job like any other job too.

Unfortunately many persons in companies become managers or leaders without having learned anything about their new origin job. In most cases they were working as specialists in a department. After a few years they obtain the great chance to become leader of the group they were part of before.

I claim they don’t make their decision based upon a real assessment of the leader job. Primarily they just want to earn more money or get a better status within the organization. This implies that most people tend to say yes when somebody offers them a job as a leader.

Then after the first year they recognize that there seems to be just one subject they are confronted with nearly all of the time: problems. As specialist they were able to focus on their origin job in the past. A job they’ve learned to execute and probably learned to love.

Now they have to develop and to establish strategies while solving the problems of other people. Probably nobody prepared them to do this. They just thought that managing a project would be like organizing a party. It surely is in some way. But how often do you organize a party? A project must be managed every day, 365 days per year. Perhaps they should have imagined how it would be to plan and organize big parties every day of the year.

And even then it would be not the same because you have to care for humans when you’re leader. You must build up relationships that may last for a very long time.
And as long as you work with human beings you are confronted with various problems that are mostly due to human weaknesses.

I will present you tools to handle these weaknesses in several articles of my blog.

But always keep in mind that your job is a job like any other. So strive to learn all the working methods that are necessary to do your origin tasks professionally like those described in this article. Learn to love problems and look at them as challenging opportunities that help you to grow as a leader.

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Posted in Working Methods on Jan 1st, 2010, 19:38 by haukeborow