Time Management for Administrators
Reese, Susan, Techniques
ADMINISTRATORS FACE A NUMBER OF CHALLENGES when it comes to managing their time effectively, but one of the first things they learn is that it is important to set priorities--but do so with a certain amount of flexibility.
"You must prioritize your duties and responsibilities every day, and then realize that on most days what you plan on doing may not even be close to what you actually accomplish," says Jeanette Bovee, compliance administrator at South Tech Academy in Palm Beach County, Florida.
Deb Shephard, vice president of Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, South Dakota, who is currently serving as interim president of the school, offers this advice: "You have to figure out in the morning what your priorities are. If you have an important job to do, then block out time to do it. Keep only that job in front of you, deal with all the interruptions that occur, and then go back to that job."
Shephard recognizes that those interruptions are necessary because they keep administrators in touch with what is going on at their schools. "As an administrator, the biggest challenge is to keep your eye on the big picture," she says.
Belinda McCharen, associate state director for career services for the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, also advises setting priorities but taking into account that there is an ebb and flow of time and that certain things surface at different times of the year that must take priority.
All three administrators acknowledge the important contributions of their staff members in making them effective managers of their time.
"I think it is extremely important for administrators to realize that they cannot do everything alone," explains Bovee. "You must hire a capable and responsible staff to support you. You must be able to express to your staff what your expectations are and provide them with training and support when needed."
McCharen has an assistant who understands her system of organization and helps maintain order in this administrator's busy professional life. McCharen sits on a number of state boards and, as an international consultant in career education, travels to many meetings and gives many presentations.
"I use lots of notebooks for the boards," she says. "I divide them by agendas and minutes. My assistant labels the spines and puts them on the shelf, so that when I get ready to go to a meeting, I can just pull the one I need off the shelf."
In addition to keeping a list of upcoming events in her BlackBerry, McCharen also keeps a folder with the information in it. But the biggest challenge comes when she returns from a meeting or presentation. "You have to be disciplined when returning from a meeting," McCharen explains.
"You can't just plop things on the desk and leave them. I sort them into stacks, and my assistant puts them into the binders."
When it comes to technology, administrators have to find what works best for them as an individual. McCharen doesn't know what she would do without her BlackBerry, and Bovee doesn't even use one.
"I am one of those who still likes to use a book planner, viewing one week at a time," Bovee notes.
Shephard says that some sort of planner is essential for administrators, and electronic ones work well. However, she cautions, "For someone who writes down a lot of information, the old-fashioned ones are best."
Managing the onslaught of e-mails is another issue faced by administrators.
"E-mails are great and save some time," says Bovee. …