Let’s say that an average e-mail takes you three minutes (and that is only if they are short and need very quick thinking on your part).
Look carefully at that number. It is not unusual for us to talk to managers who receive, reply, and create up to 100 e-mails per day. 100 e-mails a day is equivalent to 300 minutes, or five hours of time each day!
Since we normally have lots of additional tasks in the day in addition to e-mail (like meetings, administration, performance management, and coaching), is it any wonder that we struggle to get through the day? Add to this the time you might take to read reports, meeting minutes, or agendas; process information; or work on projects; eat a healthy lunch; and perhaps invest some time in your people; and it’s no wonder we are often looking for more time!
Case Study: Mary Marvelous
Please read the case study about Mary and her new assignment. Then, give Mary some suggestions to help her with her workload.
One day, Mary Marvelous was seated at her desk working on a project when her boss, Dianne Delegator, requested a couple of minutes of her time. Dianne began the conversation by congratulating her for being selected as the person who had been chosen to develop the new health insurance policy. She explained that she was giving Mary this opportunity because of her extensive experience and management skills.
Dianne continued to explain, “We require a new health insurance policy for retiring employees who qualify for the special pension fund. A recent change in government policy requires immediate action. Normally, this type of change would require approximately eight months, but we have to have our policies in place in four months. We may also require a preliminary report within three weeks in order to update the government.” After a brief pause Dianne said, “Get back to me if you have any questions on what has to be done.”
On the way back to her office Mary felt proud and enthusiastic. She was happy that the boss was finally beginning to recognize her skills and abilities. When she arrived back at her desk and had a moment to reflection this new assignment, reality hit. She remembered the large number of projects already in progress. She sat down and wrote down a list of existing projects. Then she added “Employees’ Health Insurance Policy” at the bottom.
She realizes that if she drops everything else to work on this new project, Dianne will be pleased. But sooner or later, she is going to want results from these other projects. Not only that, there are a couple of projects here that have high profile because of agreements with other departments and it would look bad if they fell behind. She realizes she can’t let them slide very long. She thinks to herself, “I’m already working two evenings a week at home on office work and my family doesn’t appreciate that.”
Something is definitely not right here, Mary Marvelous tells herself. This is an interesting job, but Dianne doesn’t realize that I can’t do everything at once. There is no use telling her that I am overloaded, because she always says, “So is everybody. We’ve just got to do the best we can!”