‘A professional is someone who cares about results, not just the activity. The only catch is that it takes a certain kind of person’. Michael Hammer, author of Re-engineering the Corporation

Successful leaders do not think “What are the tasks I have to do today?” They think “What are the results I have to achieve?” Their tasks then become the vehicles for arriving at their destination. Some of us may arrive to work each day and not think about results. We think only about what comes into our email, or what was left over from yesterday.

Your performance plan may be esoteric in nature, broad—stroked without detail. But to be results-driven, you must instead begin to see the end goal, and then work backward to make it happen. Once you work with results in mind, it becomes easy to plan what needs to happen today to achieve “X” at the planned date.

In business, as in life, results count. A wishin’ and a hopin’ aren’t drivers of success. What results do you want to achieve? By when? What will the results look like? Now, take the image of successful results and picture what must happen and in what order it must happen to flow smoothly and efficiently toward completion.

The mental aspect of time management

Time management has always been a challenge for professionals. And it will continue to be a challenge. People thought technology would make life smoother and simpler, reducing paper pile-up in the office. That hasn’t really happened. Some employees complain about having more paper because now they print email messages in addition to their regular mail.

There are probably many days you feel there just aren’t enough hours to complete what you need to do. We can’t stop time from passing and we don’t “manage time” in the sense that we can’t stop the clock or turn the hands back an hour or two. We can manage ourselves, thoughts, projects and establish priorities. We all have the same number of hours in a day. What we do with them and how we manage our tasks is up to us.

You can have all the tools in the world to manage projects and tasks, but they will not do any good if you are not in the right frame of mind. For example, you can be taught to use the Franklin Planner system, but if you aren’t mentally up to it and convinced it works, you won’t use it effectively. You can have all types of software programs for managing projects, wall calendars and portfolios to hold your project papers. If you are not mentally in tune, these tools will not help you.

Here are some power tips on the new way to approach your work and achieve better results!

First: kill multitasking!

Yes, you read that correctly! While many people in our society boast about being great multitaskers, there are volumes (and that is putting it mildly) of research on the negative effects of multitasking. I have provided a few excerpts from some of the research but if you still aren’t convinced, do your own research and you will be amazed.
(Source: Harvard Business Review by Peter Bregman)

Doing several things at once is a trick we play on ourselves, thinking we’re getting more done. In reality, our productivity goes down by as much as 40%. We don’t actually multitask. We switch-task, rapidly shifting from one thing to another, interrupting ourselves unproductively, and losing time in the process.

(Source: TheEnergyProject.com)

The concept of multitasking is actually a misnomer. Human brains process information sequentially and cannot process two cognitive tasks at the same time. Instead, what they’re really doing is “task switching”. This movement between tasks prompts significant costs. First and foremost, it is less efficient. The research shows that any time a person moves attention from a primary task to another one, it adds an average of 25% to the time it takes to complete the initial task. It also affects the quality of work people do. When people switch reactively from one task to another, they are trading depth for breadth.

The acceleration secret of super-achievers is they are very focused and committed to moving through a project or task. They capture the elusive, awesome force of momentum as Darren Hardy says. Darren is the author of the Compound Effect and publisher of Success magazine. You gain momentum when you are focused.

Avoiding time-robbers

There are many activities throughout the day that waste our time. They may not seem significant individually, but can add up to minutes or even hours of wasted time!

How Quickly Time Flies

Get morning beverage, say hello to co-workers and unpack desk – 20 mins
Online surfing at work- 120 mins
Social networking (non-work related) – 30-180 mins
Stop in hall throughout the day to speak with co-workers – 45 mins
Take time in restroom to visit with co-worker – 20 mins
Extended lunch and breaks – 30 mins
Personal telephone calls – 20 mins
285-435 minutes or 4.75-7.25 hours!


Do not keep putting off a task that needs to be done. Tackle tasks promptly. Remember and use this rule: handle each piece of paper (or each email) only once.

Outside interruptions

Politely prevent others from disrupting you at your desk. How can you tactfully do that? Try any of these three methods:
•Don’t put down your pen or pencil and don’t stop working. Don’t relax or fold your arms. Instead, lean forward or sit upright. Glance up only to say “Hello, Bill, how may I help you?” or “Hi, Bill, what can I do for you?” This visually signals Bill that you are not dropping your work to chit-chat with him. You are acknowledging his presence and want to help.
•Since some people may not pick up your cues, physically do something: pick up the phone and start dialling or turn to the computer and begin typing.
•Be friendly, but direct. Say something like, “Bill, I’d like to talk to you, but I’m in the middle of a deadline. Maybe we can talk at lunch or later in the day.”

Wasted steps

Save steps. Organize your work logically according to the errands you must do to avoid unnecessary trips back and forth. For example, accumulate items for copying and plan to go to the copier two or three times per day. Unless something is urgent, you can put it aside for planned trips. You can save even more steps by planning out your errands and making sure you have everything you need before leaving your desk.

Lack of detail

When given a project or task, get all the information you can at once. This way you will avoid going back several times to the person who initiated the task. People often give us a piece of information rather than the entire picture. Imagine a puzzle. The person providing you with information sees the entire puzzle – the big picture. However, when communicating what is needed, he or she may only give a small part. This makes it harder for you to do an adequate job. It creates errors and rework because thoughts and needs have not been defined clearly. Help others give you the details required to perform at your highest level and most efficiently by asking people questions and clarifying what you think you heard.

Inability to say “No”

Of course you want to be helpful, but what if you are already swamped? How do you decide when to say no to a request? Ask yourself if this is part or an extension of your job. If not, is it a way to advance your career or are you being taken advantage of?


A crisis is an unexpected interruption or major impact above and beyond the normal day’s events that requires your immediate attention. Expect the unexpected to occur during the day. Head off crises by finding out why things keep going wrong and learning to anticipate the outcome of events. All of us have to be able and ready to, at one time or another, “pull a rabbit out of a hat.” The real “magic trick” is not working that way every day!

Managing events

Establish some quiet time throughout the day to get yourself reorganized and mentally back on track so you can tackle the day’s activities and events as they occur, planned or unplanned.

Plan ahead

It is important to take time throughout to plan the next day and next few days. There is plenty of opportunity to be reactive. The more you plan and organize your work, the less stress you experience and the more effective and productive you become.

For more tips, visit OfficeDynamics.com where there are more than 900 Blog posts!

Joan Burge is known as the pioneer of the administrative training industry. Joan is an accomplished author, professional speaker, corporate trainer, and coach. After working in the administrative profession for 20 years, Joan founded Office Dynamics ... (Read More)

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