Just a little help can make a great big difference

I spent a few minutes helping a colleague recently, with some instantaneous results.

This colleague approached me following some coaching sessions. A goal had emerged and further contribution was needed – beyond the scope of the coaching, and perhaps necessarily from someone other than his coach. Conversations with his coach had revealed that management and prioritisation of workload could be improved, and this was subsequently agreed as a goal to be pursued. In follow up to the identification of this goal, consideration was also given to who may be able to help. My name was suggested, and I happily agreed to participate.

We discussed workload, perhaps with no particular conclusion drawn. Workload is ever present, often fluctuating and in many cases cannot be easily influenced – perhaps exaggerated if the individual does not occupy a highly influential position, or does not feel sufficiently empowered to propose or effect change.

We discussed prioritisation. Some of the factors associated with workload also applied. Furthermore, where workload is high, resulting prioritisation is a critical step to ensuring clarity of objectives can be maintained. But how to achieve this?

In this particular instance, advice from me was to make more effective use of already available tools. As with most business users, this individual was already familiar with using Outlook as a communication tool, and also in scheduling some of their time using the calendar.

We discussed taking the use of Outlook a step further. Two ways were immediately obvious. First, make a little more of the calendar. We often schedule meetings and appointments. Ever considered scheduling other activities? If you are able to work closely enough to your own schedule, then this is a great way to slice up your time into manageable and focused pieces. Next, look at the unused Tasks feature – a place to gather your to do’s and set your own due dates and levels of priority. It’s pretty simple to do this, and if you can collate all your jobs to this single location, you’ve got a pretty good platform for working a little smarter.

Ultimately then, not the greatest or most involved of solutions. The end result for this individual? Enough expression of gratitude and thanks to know that the time I had invested was worthwhile and made a great big difference.

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