Archive for the ‘Time Management’ Category

Non Profit Board Meetings Can be Effective

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Start using the “Consent Agenda” and be pleasantly surprised and efficient.

By Joseph John

non profit boardIt’s on your calendar — your regularly scheduled non profit board meeting. OUCH! How many board meetings do you dread attending? Be honest! And why? Do those meetings always seem to be the same old thing? Once again, do you see that there’s no substantial business that is being conducted that NEEDS to be conducted!?

I didn’t coin this phrase (I wish I did), but check this out: Efficient [non profit] board meetings begin with an efficient agenda.

The following concept is not new, but if you’re not using it, try it: The Consent Agenda.

It’s surprising how many non profit boards do not use the Consent Agenda. Believe me, if the consent agenda strategy is used, meetings can be more effective and streamlined while the focus can be on the real issues that need discussion and votes. The proof is in the following citations:

“A consent agenda, sometimes called a consent ‘calendar,’ is a component of a meeting agenda that enables the board to group routine items and resolutions under one umbrella.” [BoardSource]

“A consent agenda groups the routine, procedural, informational and self-explanatory non-controversial items typically found in an agenda. These items are then presented to the board in a single motion for an up or down vote after allowing anyone to request that a specific item be moved to the full agenda for individual attention. Other items, particularly those requiring strategic thought, decision-making or action, are handled as usual.” [Core Strategies for Non-Profits]

“I think it’s a critical and helpful agenda tool. It was an invaluable and necessary element of the agenda, and it dramatically shortened the meetings. At least 70% of the time, at the board meeting, the items were not moved from consent by a board member for further consideration/deliberation.” [Dr. Michele Sabino, Houston TX]

The first thing to keep in mind is that the Consent Agenda is a bundle of routine matters that don’t really need any time for discussion IF those items had been distributed before the non profit meeting for pre-reads. That is one of the critical features of the Consent Agenda — it must be distributed in advance of the meeting so that the entire package can be voted on and then move on to REAL topics.

And what are some of those “routine” matters?

1)     Minutes of the last meeting,

2)     Committee reports

3)     Staff reports

4)     Routine financial reports

5)     Informational documents

6)     Future meetings (and the list goes on)

As you can see, many of those items and more can be reviewed by non profit board members, at their leisure, prior to the meeting, making the approval process of the entire “bundle” a time saving feature. Imagine a one-hour agenda where all of those previously mentioned items accounted for only a one or two minute vote of approval.

As noted by Dr. Sabino and the other sources I quoted, there may be times that a particular item from the package is requested to be moved from consent to deliberation. However, it’s worth the percentage odds that it’s not going to happen, and as a result, more strategic issues can be discussed in the remaining fifty-eight minutes of your one-hour meeting.

There are numerous sources for you to use. However, I found that BoardSource has an excellent monograph The Consent Agenda: A Tool for Improving Governance. This document explains the process and provides very helpful tips to create the agenda, what should and should not be included, as well including a section titled “Breaking with Tradition” — you know, the proverbial “we never did it that way before” statement.

Busy non profit boards and busy people need effective meeting management processes — give the Consent Agenda a try.


Time Management: Bluetoothin’

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Good time management: To BlueTooth or Not to BlueTooth

time managementBlueTooth is that great wireless protocol that allows electronic equipment to communicate with each other. You see it every day with those people walking around with earpieces in one ear and who seem to be talking to themselves. Yeah, pretty strange if you are not used to it.

Of course they are using a BlueTooth enabled earpiece to link to their cell phone and can make or answer calls without their phone (it’s on their belt or in their pocket) and hands free. Yes, it’s efficient, but is it good time management? Depends.

BlueTooth enabled cell phones are wonderful, and allow you to communicate clearly and efficiently with both hands free to drive, use your computer, take notes, etc. If you do a lot of this kind of work, then a BlueTooth enabled phone is for you. It can save you time by allowing you more freedom to do other things while talking on the phone.

The down side is that it can suddenly control your life and all your interactions, interrupting you when you least want it. So, it’s a trade-off.

What You Should Do:

If you do a lot of cell phone work, look into a Bluetooth enabled phone. They may well save you time by allowing more freedom in your calls. And, many new cars are now BlueTooth enabled as well so you can run the phone through your car’s audio system hands free. Safer. And it could be

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a good time management technique for you.

Just remember that while these devices are time saving and handy, you need to be conscious of others around you in your conversations.

By Robert E. Dittmer, APR

Author of 151 Quick Ideas to Manage Your Time

Time Management: Computer Training

Monday, November 21st, 2011

 Get Computer Training to Get More Efficient at Time Management

time managementIf you really want to get the most out of that computer application, you have to learn more about it. While many of us a self-taught, when we do so we really learn only the basics. One computer trainer I talked with told me that most people know how to use less than 25 percent of the capabilities of any software they use!

Many applications have many time-saving and work saving functions. But most of us don’t know they exist, much less how to use them. We can save time by gaining knowledge. The question is: learn it ourselves or attend some training.

My vote is get some training. Armed with some knowledge about a software, we can be functional. But not expert. Yet if this software is important to us, we should know everything about it. Becoming expert will lead us to greater capabilities and more efficiencies and, yes, better time management and time savings.

What you can do:

Identify the one or two programs you use the most in your work. Assess your level ability with those programs and then attend some training programs designed to enhance your abilities with them.

You will save time in the long run. You’ll be more efficient and more capable. You may learn enough to do something no one else in the office can do. It might lead to that next promotion. Now that’s a great result from good time management!

By Robert E. Dittmer, APR

Author of 151 Quick Ideas to Manage Your Time

Time Management: Who Knows your cell phone number?

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Do you give your cell phone number to everyone? Really?! Why? time managementIf so, you are giving them license to steal time from you. They’ll call you at all hours, at the most inconvenient times, when you can least afford the time to take their calls. That’s not good time management! A very good business practice is to limit the people to whom you give your cell phone number to those who are most important. Don’t let just anybody call you. Control who has access to you via your cell phone. That way, when the phone rings, you know it’s someone important to you, not your local hardware store telling you an order has arrived. Don’t put your cell

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phone number on business cards or other materials that everyone has access to. Make having your cell phone number a privilege, not a right. Keep that number for people you want to hear from. Good time management. Of course, this only works if you reserve your cell phone for business calls and communication. If you use your cell phone for everything, including land line replacement as many young people do, then

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you’ll be mixing business and personal. Also not a good recipe for good time management. And, potentially confusing! What you should do: Good time management is good communication management. Review your contacts who have your cell phone number. Start limiting who you give that number to so you control who calls you, not the other way around. You can waste a lot of time on phone calls from people you really did not need to hear from at times when you needed to concentrate on other tasks. You take control of that phone, don’t give up control to others. And if your cell phone is also your personal phone…well…consider at least using clearly identifying ringtones so you can easily separate the business from the pleasure. By Robert E. Dittmer, APR Author of 151 Quick Ideas to Manage Your Time

Time Management: Set your phasers to stun

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Better time management means better communications management. Your Cell Phone: Set to Stun

time managementStar Trek brought us “Beam me up, Scotty” and “Set your phasers to stun.”

A fun TV show with some interesting lessons. Of course, we all experience times when we just wish Scotty could beam us up and away from a difficult situation. But one of the best ways to practice good time management is to control when you answer your cell phone.

We can’t do without these ubiquitous and smart communication tools today. Phone calls, text messages, email, web surfing, etc.

But, If you have your phone set to a loud ring tone or music, it goes off and interrupts what you are doing, and maybe others as well. The easy answer is to set it to “stun” or vibrate. Phones that vibrate only bother the recipient, and they are much easier to ignore that a ring tone. This way, you can choose to answer or not answer depending on your current situation.

If you are in the middle of a meeting, you can ignore it. If you are concentrating on an important task, ignore it. If you are in the waiting room for a physicians appointment, answer it. When you ignore it, it goes to your voice and you can check that later – at a time much more convenience to you. That’s better time management.

What You Should Do. Set your cell phone to vibrate or “stun.” As a general rule, keep it there unless you are in a situation were a ring tone is needed. If you are busy, let inbound calls go to your voice mail and ignore the vibration. Stay concentrated on the task at hand.

Cell phones are wonderful and I’m a big fan. But, I want to be in charge of when I answer, not leaving that to my callers. You can disrupt your day easily by answering every call that comes in as it comes it. And disruption costs time, and that’s not good time managment.

By Robert E. Dittmer, APR

Author of 151 Quick Ideas to Manage Your Time

Time Management: That Cell Phone!

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Oh, that cell phone! Good for time management, but…

time managementOK, you gotta have one. Yes, you do. But, does it really have to rule your life? Cell phones are cheap (now) and extremely handy.

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They allow you to do things out of the office and make it easy for people to contact you.

So watch what you do with them. Use them, certainly. They make great time management tools. Make calls while out of the office or on the way to another location. Receive and send email. Text to your heart’s content (but not while driving!). Even surf the web.

Confirm orders, coordinate actions, review documents, set appointments, and so on. Cell phones allow you to maximize your time away from the office in ways we could not do before.

But also

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don’t let the darn thing rule your life, either! Don’t take a call just because the phone rings. All phone services come with voice mail today, so let that call go to a voice mail rather that allow it to interrupt a meeting, conversation or ruin you concentration.

Don’t check email every two minutes! I’ve seen people interrupt personal conversations just the check email or to read a text. Remember, the beauty of these communication tools is that they do NOT have to be handled in real time.

What You Can Do: If you don’t have one, get one. A cell phone can be a great time management tool. If it’s for business purposes, it can be used as a business expense with your taxes. Make use of it to allow greater productivity during times out of the office. Get more from the time you have available using a cell phone.

While it will save you time and make you more efficient and reachable, it can also take over your life. Don’t let it. Make it help you improve at time management without controlling you.

By Robert E. Dittmer, APR

Author of 151 Quick Ideas to Manage Your Time

Time Management: Operating at Speed

Monday, November 7th, 2011

time managementTo maximize time management, make certain your computer and internet connection are operating at speed

First, your computer…

Computers are supposed to be fast, not slow and clunky. If you have an old computer that runs slow, then it’s time for a new – and faster – computer. Today’s computers, even the inexpensive ones, are very fast. But, we can junk them up and slow them down. They then cost us time, not save us time. That’s bad time management.

The best way to make certain you computer is running as efficiently as possible is to routinely run (on PC’s) a “scandisk” function and a “defragmentation” function. Scandisk will clean up old files like temporary files, and defrag will reorganize your hard disk drive for optimum access to your most commonly used applications and files. If you can’t figure out how to run these applications (part of Windows), use the help function.

Second, your internet connection…

We all operate on the Internet these days. Some could not imagine being without it! Yet it is less than 20 years old. But it has become so important a communication mechanism that we really must get the most out of it today.

Internet connection speeds are now extremely important. Not just for e-mail and attachments, but for visiting websites and using social media for business purposes. Websites today are designed with the assumption of reasonable access speeds. Watching a slow internet connection is bad time management.

Make sure you’re not sitting watching your monitor as websites slowly load or e-mails with attachments to download. A high-speed (broadband) connection is a must today. Take advantage of the serious reduction in cost for these connections and save time as your downloads flash onto the screen in almost no time.

What you can do:

Good time management requires that we maintain our equipment and support systems.

1. Create a monthly schedule to run “scandisk” and “defrag.” These take a while to run, so you may want to do this over a weekend or overnight.

After some months, hard drives become disorganized. Just running defrag will improve the access time for your files and applications significantly.

2. Explore the best option for a broadband connection from two primary choices: DSL and Cable. If you already have cable, that is the fastest and easiest. IF not, you telephone company can probably deliver a DSL connection (slightly slower) at reasonable cost.

By Robert E. Dittmer, APR

Author of 151 Quick Ideas to Manage Your Time