Category: Stress Management (page 1 of 3)

5S Your Work Space to Get Control of Your Time

What is 5S?

5S is a component of Six Sigma or Lean Manufacturing. The main goal is to make the work area organized to optimize performance. It requires all unneeded items to be removed from the work area and everything else to be organized in the most efficient manner. Once the work area is properly organized it must be sustained to ensure top performance is maintained.

While it was originally put into use in manufacturing environments it can also be employed in office environments or anywhere work is performed.

The components of 5S are as follows:

  1. Sort
  2. Set in order
  3. Shine
  4. Standardize
  5. Sustain

Why Implement 5S?

With the above facts in mind, we can look at why 5S is a good method for helping manage your time and getting your workspace organized.

First, let’s consider time management. How many times have you come into your office only to become frustrated by the pile of stuff you have laying on it. It makes it difficult to find what you are looking for. Getting anything done requires you to spend time putting things in order. And a messy desk causes you stress and anxiety.

So, getting your desk in order can help you begin to prioritize the items on it. Once the items on your desk are prioritized you can get to work getting things done.

Second, 5S is a precise methodology that tells you exactly what you need to do to get organized and stay organized. By following the 5-steps of the process you will great rid of the clutter and create a system of sustainable organization. This will help you manage your time and your stress level.

Getting Started

Now that we know what 5-S is and why its important let’s talk about getting started. You need to set time aside to start. Don’t allow for any interruptions. Dedicate yourself to completing the 5-S process.

Before beginning take pictures of your work area. All workspaces, inside drawers, shelves, and desktops. These pictures will serve as a reminder of where you started. When you look back it will be important to remember why you did this work and what you want to avoid.

Next, make sure that you have a space to take items you do not need but others may have a use for. Also, have garbage bags and cleaning supplies available.

Once you have your time scheduled and all items required it is time to get to work.

Sort

To begin the process you must sort everything on your desk, in your desk, and around your desk. You will make three piles:

  1. Garbage
  2. Good but don’t need
  3. Keep

Garbage is just that. It is junk that serves no purpose to you or anyone else. This includes old paperwork that is no longer required to be kept. Broken tools and office supplies. And any other junk that no longer has a useful purpose.

Good but don’t need – this is stuff that you no longer need but others in the office may be able to use. Maybe it’s an old textbook, some guides, office supplies, or any other still functioning item that you no longer need. If you have not used it for 6 months consider getting rid of it.

Keep – an item that you have used in the past 6 months or need to keep as a part of your job.

Set in Order

Now that you have sorted through all the clutter you are ready to begin to set things in order. The key point to remember is that you want to find a place for everything and everything in its place. This is key.

Organize your work area so that items you use frequently are nearest at hand and items that get used less frequently are put in a place where they can easily be found when needed but stored neatly out-of-the-way.

It is a good idea to make use of file organizers, storage containers, and labels. If you are putting something in a drawer put a label on the outside of it so you know what’s in it.

Shine

So, you have sorted and set everything in order. Now it is time to make it shine. Simply put you are going to give everything a good cleaning. Get our your cleaner and rag and start in.

As you are cleaning look for the causes of clutter and dirt and come up with ways to prevent them from occurring in the first place. If your desk gets cluttered because people are always putting paperwork all over your desk, then get an inbox and clearly mark it so people know to put paperwork in it.

Remember, you are going to want to sustain the cleanliness so consider taking 5 minutes once a week to clean your work area.

Standardize

Standardization is about making things stand out visually. You want to be able to quickly look at your work area and notice if something is out-of-place. You can do this by using shadows for things like a stapler, tape dispensers, and other work tools. In your drawers, you can have organizers clearly labeled. If you have bookshelves you can label them to clearly show what books go where.

Additionally, you can take pictures of your work area after it has been cleaned and standardized so you have a visual tool of how you want to maintain your area. This can be posted as a reference to use in the sustain step.

Sustain

The final step is to sustain your efforts. To do this put a half hour to hour block on your schedule at the end of the week. I suggesting scheduling it for the last hour of the day at the end of the week. Make sure you put it on your calendar and block this time.

Once a week you will pull out your sustain picture and ensure that your work area looks like the picture. If it doesn’t use this time to get it back in order. Then pull out your cleaner and rag and clean all areas.

To see an example of an office 5S implementation check out this short YouTube Video.

Concluding Thoughts

Ultimately, you are only as effective as you are organized. If you take the time to get your work area organized and make it a priority to sustain it you will have a much better chance of making better use of your time. It is hard to feel in control of your time when you are stuck under a pile of clutter.

By implementing 5S you will have a systematic method for getting your work area organized and keeping it that way.

Once you have your work area organized you can move on to the next step in managing your time – your calendar.

If you haven’t read the first article in this series on time-management check it out here.

Go to Part 3 in this series.

 

Messaging – Its What You Say and How You Say It

Thinking about your messaging – how you deliver a message – can determine how successful you are in your communications.

Messaging is how you deliver a message and why. You need to give thought as to what the desired outcome is that you are trying to achieve. Also important is how the message will be perceived.

A blunt message with no consideration of perception will act like a hammer. It will be an attack and make people shut down.

When considering messaging here are some things to think about:

First, could the message be a negative or a positive? If it could be a negative how could you turn it into a positive?

An example: your team is not meeting its production goals. You need to communicate this in a way that helps them understand how they are falling short but doesn’t make them feel that they are being taken to task. The goal should be to motivate not frustrate.

Can you deliver the message in a way that shows concern for the best interest of your team and puts consideration on achieving organizational goals?

Second, what are you trying to achieve because of the communication? Hopefully, the communication isn’t to instill fear and intimidation.

In the example above it should be about improving your team’s performance. So, the messaging should be about concern for your team and help them to achieve their goals.

Third, once you have formulated the message consider how it will be perceived. In your mind, it may be a benign message but that may not be how others will perceive it.

You must consider how others will interpret your message. Try to see it from their perspective. How would you understand it if you were in their shoes?

Finally, think about what your motivation is. Why are you delivering this message? Is it because you’re upset, excited, encouraging?

If you’re upset and looking to get a quick fix to a problem – STOP. Give yourself some time to cool off and think about a better way to communicate what it is that is on your mind.

Before running head first to address a problem consider your messaging. Make sure you are doing things the right way for the right reason.

Think about how others will receive the message. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself how you would feel receiving the message.

Make sure your motivations are in line with your values. Don’t allow your emotions to deliver a message that will blow up on you.

Messaging can be delivered in a way that will either motivate or demotivate. By taking a little time upfront to consider what your goals are and how the message will be perceived you can ensure that your communication will be a positive one.

 

A Positive Attitude Can Overcome Any Problem

When problems are piling up and you feel like you are deep in a negative spiral a positive attitude can not only lift you up but it can lift up your whole team.

It can be difficult to find the positive in a negative situation but it is essential to overcoming any problem.

The more we focus on the negative the more we shut ourselves off to the potential solutions to the problem. It is hard to see the possibilities under a pile of garbage.

So how do you regain your positive attitude when things are going wrong?

First, start with a concern for other people. When we take the focus off ourselves, and our own problems, and look for ways to help others it helps put a new spin on the problem. It forces us to step outside ourselves and see a larger reality.

When we focus on others we see the problem through their eyes which will cause us to gain a new perspective on the issue.

It also changes our attitude from one of self-pity to one of service. This can be empowering. When we realize we have the power to make our little world better and improve the situation of other people, we quit feeling pity for ourselves and start acting in a positive manner.

Helping other people also fills us with positive feelings. When we have a positive impact on others their gratitude fills us with gratitude. It may be cliché but you get what you give.

For more on this see – The People Connections – Making for a Happy Workplace.

Second, practice gratitude. No matter how bad things are you always have something to be grateful for no matter how small.

Make a list – either write it down or mentally. Identify at least five things that you are grateful for. Focus on how those good things make you feel. Think about what life would be like without those things.

Gratitude can fuel a soul at the worst of times and empower us to see the world through a more positive lens.

Third, think back to another difficult situation or problem you have faced in the past. Realize that no matter what the problem you have faced similar situations in the past before and survived.

Focus on the temporary nature of problems. This will help you to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Consider what you did to overcome past problems and how you felt once they were overcome. Stay focused on the positive outcomes.

Like anything in life, good things come when we put in the effort and the work. Regaining a positive attitude when things are going wrong isn’t easy. It is much simpler to wallow in our own misery and wait for the situation to clear. The only problem is by doing that the outcome will not be good.

Instead, make the effort to change your attitude. To focus on the good. Focus on others. Be grateful. And remember, you have been here before and survived.

Supervising – Just Relax and Manage

When I first started supervising people I was very insecure. I had no idea what I was doing. Every problem was a nail and I was a hammer. People got tense when I walked up. They were just waiting for me to get upset about something and blow up.

My leadership did not inspire people. Instead, I put people on edge. A lot of people thought I was arrogant, the truth was I was scared. Every day I thought I was going to lose my job.

After a while, I began to realize that I was creating too much stress for myself and my team. My technique was not effective and I discovered I needed to change the way I was interacting with my team.

Getting angry and going off the handle on every problem did not instill confidence in others regarding my decision-making ability. I didn’t have a high level of emotional intelligence.

Another problem I had was feeling the need to always be in control. When some issue would arise I wanted to address it immediately in order to gain control over it. Waiting wasn’t an option. I had to attack the issue and that’s what I did – attack.

When I started to have anxiety attacks and dread going into work I began to realize that I needed to change. I didn’t like how I felt or the way I was reacting. My employees were unhappy and they were beginning to complain. I was young and inexperienced and didn’t know where to turn.

I wish I would have had somebody to turn to who could have helped me see where I was going wrong and what I should do to be more effective.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have that kind of help. My manager and fellow supervisors tried to offer help and they always supported me, but they couldn’t offer an overall strategy for effectively managing people.

Where it started to change for me was a training session I took on leadership, team-building, and coaching. It has been so long I don’t remember the company putting it on, but it was an eye-opening training. The person training the course gave great examples of how to lead teams and give coaching to employees in a positive and open manner.

Finally, somebody was offering me effective and actionable advice in a clear strategy. I began to use the skills I learned in this training session and felt myself relax and gain confidence as a supervisor.

So what did I learn? Here are the tips that made a difference for me:

  1.  Always treat everyone with respect. It doesn’t do any good to get angry and yell. The only thing this does is to put people on the defensive. Always speak from a position of concern for the person you are coaching. Make it about helping them improve.
  2. Always stick with facts – avoid emotions. No one can argue with facts. A thing either is or isn’t. You can disagree about the particulars but if you have done your homework and kept good records, then the facts will always be on your side.
  3. Keep good records. This is essential. The better the records you keep the easier it is to address employee issues. It also covers your butt in case of a termination. The more facts you have the easier it is dealing with problematic employees.
  4. Let go of the need to control. At the end of the day, all you can do is deal with the here and now. You can’t control what has happened, or what will happen, but only how you respond to the circumstances. It is better to approach circumstances in a cool and calm manner because then you can think clearly and come up with better solutions to deal with the problem.
  5. Give yourself time to think through your response to a problem. Never go at a problem hot. Allow yourself some time to consider all the facts before responding. Let the emotions calm down and sit down and consider all the possibilities and then formulate your plan. Once you are calm, have all available facts, and a plan then you can move forward with dealing with the issue.

It is difficult dealing with employee issues when you first get started. Emotional responses are easy, ut don’t lead to good outcomes. Time is the only way to gain experience and ultimately confidence in yourself. Having good coaches and mentors can definitely help you on the way.

If you would like a free 45 minute coaching session to help you on your way email me at peacefulmanager@gmail.com, or email me questions anytime. I would love to talk to you. For more on my experience see my LinkedIn profile.

Manage Your Time, Don’t Let it Manage You

You’re the Boss of Your Time

We all struggle with time management. The day begins with the best of intentions. Plans are made and then they blow up in our faces. Chaos takes control and we find ourselves in a vicious cycle putting out one fire after another. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You’re the boss of your time. If you don’t make a plan that is flexible, yet allows you to accomplish your goals, then you have just allowed yourself to be controlled by circumstance. No plan is perfect. You have to allow for the unforeseen. But, not making a plan allows the unforeseen to be the plan.

Setting Priorities

I have read from more than one time-management guru that the best planning begins the day before. Every day before you leave the office to allow yourself 15-30 minutes to set your priorities for the next day. Make sure to put this on your schedule and stick to it. Getting organized for the next day will help you to make goal setting a daily priority. It will also allow you to start the next day out with a plan.

On the flip side, allow yourself 15-30 minutes at the beginning of your day to review your priority list and readjust based on whatever you walked into that morning. Your list should give your day structure but it should also allow you the flexibility to adjust to new priorities and circumstances.

The To-Do List

You may see a to-do list as an anchor tied around your waist, but if done right it can be a valuable tool to managing your day and keeping track of multiple priorities.

I have discussed to-do lists in two other posts: Creating Lists to Manage Projects and Prioritize Tasks and Giving Your List Power – Creating Context, so I will just give some quick tips here.

Building your list can be done utilizing Evernote, Google Keep, One Note, a Word document, or pen and paper.

Use whatever method gives you the most flexibility and keeps you on task.

Get your priorities written and then prioritize them based on importance, when it needs to be completed, and how long it will take to accomplish each task.

Make sure to set a date for accomplishing each task. It is probably a good idea to add these tasks to your calendar and set reminders to ensure you get them done on time.

Keeping a list also has another side benefit – it allows you to go back and look at what you have accomplished which will help keep you motivated. Some days it can feel like you haven’t gotten anything done. Then you go back and look at your to-do list and see that you’ve accomplished quite a bit. That can give you a good feeling that should help keep you motivated.

Just Do Em’s

When starting your day if you have tasks that you can accomplish in under 5 minutes just complete those items. This will get tedious little tasks out-of-the-way so you can focus on bigger, more involved projects.

Minor tasks can clutter up your day and keep you from getting focused on important tasks. Better to get through them, or set aside a specific time for getting them done, so they don’t become speed bumps.

Your Outlook Calendar is Your Friend

Technology can be both an enemy and a friend. It is our enemy when we allow it to be a distraction – i.e. email and Facebook. It is all about how you utilize it. Turn off your email alert and set aside five minutes every couple of hours to check email.

One of the best tools is your Outlook calendar as it allows you to create tasks, prioritize, and set reminders. If you have longer-term tasks with multiple steps Outlook can help you to set up reminders to keep you on track. Here is a good video that discusses how to use tasks in Outlook to create a to-do list.

One thing to remember – if you need time to accomplish something create an appointment, not a task. A task is a specific item that needs to be accomplished without setting a specific time for doing it. If it is a specific activity that needs to be done then set an appointment for completing it.

Take Charge of Your Time

With all the tools and technology available to managers there is no reason why you should allow circumstances to set your schedule. By doing a little planning and taking advantage of these tools you can become productive no matter what comes up. Setting priorities, staying flexible, and keeping track of tasks will allow you to gain control and become the boss of your time.

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