Early on in my career it was drilled into my head to base my priorities on what would keep someone else working. In other words, when I am finished with this task, who handles it next?
Filing? Filing is the ultimate last step; it doesn’t affect anyone else. This is what makes filing a low-priority, but not low-level task. I mean, the alphabet still applies.
Check run? I have to get the signature, so I need my boss. I have to mail it, so I need to beat the mailman. The vendor needs to deposit their check. There is a simple listing of three people potentially waiting for me to finish my task.
Signed Contract? It needs to be opened, given to the president to sign, then mailed back.
Deposits? I have to copy the check, fill out the slip, and give it to someone to take to the bank who will return with the receipt so that I can process the deposit and do a check run.
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One of the biggest pet peeves I have is dishes piling up in the sink. Not only does it totally gross me out, but I can’t start cooking with all of the countertop space consumed by dirty dishes–this is what gives the dishwasher the starring role among other appliances in the kitchen. It is an out-of-the-way space to store dishes until it is full enough to run. The key is this: after the dishwasher is finished, it needs to be unloaded. The dishes have a place — the cabinet — not the sink, countertop, or dishwasher.
In the highly fluid office of a general contractor, items in my inbox are constantly reassigned priority levels, especially when the newest five tasks needed to be done last week. It is all too easy to pile up filing on my back counter and say to myself, “I’ll do it later.”
The back burner seems to be the purgatory of choice for incomplete tasks with even a slightly-lower priority; more often than not, this is the default for filing. A secretary I once worked with, who will remain nameless to protect her innocence, often left the back burner burning for quite some time. This would create more problems than it was worth: missing information, can’t find an invoice, where is the letter I received from Mr. So-and So?, and their cohorts. Ideas on time and task management were answered with the all-too-predictable response of “I don’t have time.” Continue reading →
Depending upon the size of the company the job title “Office Manager” may take on a slightly different flavor. Some office managers simply manage personnel whose individual job titles and tasks make up the entire skill set required in smaller offices. The title of “Office Manager” can encompass a mind-boggling array of skill levels, personality types, and even schools of discipline.
One day you may be the Accounts Payable Clerk and another, the entire Collections Department. You may field calls like a Receptionist while dealing with a Human Resources issue. By morning you are the head of the Marketing Department and in the afternoons you clean the toilets–well, maybe it doesn’t go that far, but you get the point. The diversity of tasks goes way beyond their titles and presumed prestige (or lack thereof). You may need to actually switch personalities in between. Continue reading →