George Mason Experts Offer Time Management Tips; HR Holds Workshops

Posted: January 26, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

The new year always seems to bring a determination to improve oneself, and many people are hard at work on their resolutions. One perennial goal is to manage time more effectively. With this in mind, Human Resources is holding two workshops in the next two weeks focusing on this important concern. In addition, the Gazette staff contacted various people in the university well known for their time management skills and asked for some of their personal tips. A sampling follows.

James Bennett, professor of economics, chair of the Faculty Senate, and author of 17 books:

“Close your door; don’t answer your phone; sit down in front of the computer; work. Sweat makes it happen.”

Cheryl Nalbach, academic advisor in the Music Department, who advises both graduate and undergraduate music majors:

“I take a breath. Then I tell myself that I will choose to DO ONE THING AT A TIME. I even say aloud, ‘What am I doing NOW? Right now, I am choosing to do _____ ONLY.’ This helps me focus on one task, and nothing else. It assures me that I have made the conscious decision to do ONLY one thing. I will manage the next task when this one is finished.”

Gary Galluzzo, professor, Graduate School of Education:

Short version: “Learn when it is best for you to say ‘yes’ and best for you to say ‘no.’ Take a walk around campus at least three times a week.”

Long version: “Why am I a good time manager? I guess it is because after many years of having all of my time filled with administrivia, I’ve learned how not to over-commit, which sometimes led to work that was less than I might have liked it to be. I’ve also become quite skilled at ‘compartmentalizing’ my obligations such that I bring each one to a place where breaking away from it doesn’t create a mental stress. I can go on to my next obligation with a clearer mind. Also, I have taken to walking the campus sometime during the day. I’ve found that I think more clearly during my walk and afterwards, as well. It is a small investment in not feeling overwhelmed. Lastly, I try to keep strong conceptual connections among my teaching, my scholarship, and my citizenship.”

Janette Muir,dean of New Century College, who oversees four degree programs and two centers; teaches courses in political communication and rhetoric; and has written several articles on presidential campaigns and political activism:

“Get your e-mail out of the way as soon as possible. Don’t spend lots of time filing things you know you won’t use again. Limit the amount of time you handle a piece of paper on your desk (one to two times is ideal). Make lists. Then, of course, get the work done. People spend lots of time talking about what they need to do, and not enough time with their sleeves rolled up doing the work. Procrastination is the hobgoblin of a time-challenged mind.”

Harold Geller, instructor, physics and astronomy:

“If there’s a small task that would just take a couple of minutes, do it right away and get it over with–don’t put it on a list of things to do. The list piles up and you may get way behind in performing your tasks.

Examine your e-mail at specific times, say, morning, lunchtime, and before leaving for the day ONLY! Otherwise you may be spending an inordinate amount of time answering e-mail and everything else gets interrupted and takes even longer. I recommend against any instant messenger software because it interrupts you whenever there’s an incoming message.”

James Trefil, Robinson Professor of Physics:

“One thing I’ve discovered recently is books on tape. Everyone in Fairfax spends a lot of time in their cars, and the libraries have large selections of recorded books. I find that putting the tapes on instead of music while I’m driving around allows me to ‘read’ a couple of extra books each month–a real time saver.”

Martha Reiner, awards coordinator for Human Resources, who juggles several programs, including the Employee of the Month:

“I have always followed my husband’s advice–go early and stay late if necessary. I do my best work early in the morning because I can plan my day and prioritize tasks. I really have no set plan except to finish what I start in a timely manner.”

Cathy Hubbs, information technology security coordinator in the Information Technology Unit (ITU), who also serves on the Virginia Alliance for Secure Computing and Networking and organized the Systems Administrator Leadership Team:

“I am a slave to my Corporate Calendar account. Completing all the meetings, tasks, and events scheduled each day is my measurement of success.”

Randy D. Anderson, director of network engineering and technology, Technical Systems Division of ITU, whose office is currently rolling out wireless network access, planning network upgrades, working with Facilities Planning to ensure adequate voice and data service in the new buildings in progress, and increasing the general level of security across the university network:

“Directors generally seem to be pulled in 75 different directions at any given time, so maintaining a reasonable degree of efficiency is a constant struggle. Northern Virginia traffic is the biggest time sink in my life–it’s tough to be productive when you’re sitting on I-66. I generally carpool at least a couple of days per week and work from home most Fridays. This reduces the amount of time I spend on the road, leaving me more time and energy to spend on work, and helps me to maintain some sanity.”

For other tips, sign up for one of HR’s Make a Difference at Mason sessions. Time Management Basics promises “practical ideas for keeping your desk from becoming a disaster area.” The workshop is held Thursday, Jan. 29, from 9 a.m. to noon in SUB II, Rooms 3 and 4.

Managing Time for Managers, a popular workshop offered only once a year, is presented by William Reeder, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. This session will cover “the five destructive lures that capture most managers” and tells you how to recognize and do something about them. It is presented Friday, Feb. 6, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Johnson Center, Gold Room (lower level).

To register for either workshop, go to the web page or call 703-993-4180. (Hint: plan to be on time!)

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