Communication; Methods Improvement

sixty MiNUtes or less

Primary Topic—Time Management and Personal Effectiveness

Additional Topics—Communication; Methods Improvement

When business office manager Judy Morrison returned from a 2-day seminar, she found her desk half covered with telephone message slips and her in basket overflow- ing with other work. As she glumly surveyed the pile of work before her, department secretary Ann Rose reminded Judy that she was due at a major meeting in barely an hour and would probably be tied up for the rest of the day.

“Just look at this mess,” said Judy. “I knew I shouldn’t have gone away. Now I’ll take forever getting back to normal.”

Ann suggested, “You don’t have anything at all on your calendar for tomorrow. And you have almost an hour available right now.”

Judy sighed and said, “An hour doesn’t seem like much time in the face of this pile of work. I don’t know what I could possibly accomplish in only an hour.”

Ann indicated the array of telephone messages and said, “Maybe some phone calls. You could probably return most of the important calls within an hour.”

“But how do I know that the calls are what I should really be working on? It might make more sense for me to use the time to go through everything and sort it all according to priority and plan how I’m going to attack this backlog.”

“Okay, you could do that,” Ann said. “You could also check quickly through everything and pick out a couple of important items that you can resolve within the hour. That way you would be trimming the pile down at least a little bit.”

“Well, I’d better do something,” said Judy. “I’ve already used up 5 minutes of my hour just wondering where to begin.”


In the conversation between Judy and Ann, three approaches to the use of the avail- able hour were suggested:

1. Return the telephone calls, concentrating first on the more important calls. 2. Sort everything according to priorities and develop a work plan. 3. Select one or two important items for immediate resolution.

Which of these three approaches would you recommend? Why?

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