Project Management and Time Management Tips!

We had our annual Team Away Day today, a day away from our normal libraries/offices to get together and have a training session, and some group discussions (probably not coincidentally just before we decide the Delivery Plan for the next financial year!)

The main topic of discussion today was Project Management – the Library Manager is hoping to equip everyone with the skills to lead on a Delivery Plan project next year, not just the Librarians! We had a very interesting training session from a member of the IM&T Project Team, and we used some of our current projects as worked examples, which was particularly helpful as one of the projects was mine! Working in small groups we put together a list of tasks that were needed for the project, and it gave my colleagues a chance to ask questions about the process that I hadn’t thought ahead to yet (I have to have done a big bit of it by 31st March so I’ve been focussing on that rather than the whole picture, which meant I hadn’t planned certain parts of it yet!) I now have a plan of action for the whole project, and while my group didn’t get around to setting timescales for the tasks yet, it’s certainly been a big boost to the project for me, and it won’t take long to throw together a timeline/Gantt Chart for the project.

After lunch, we had a session by the Associate Director of IM&T about the Trusts proposed Digital Strategy which is something he’s been working on (and the library has done some literature searches for him toward it!) He also talked us through a SWOT analysis for the library service, but tied it back by saying ‘how can the digital strategy help this?’ because he would like to see us respond to the proposed strategy as a team, not just as individuals as he believes that the library could be central to some of what he wants to achieve with the policy (which he summed up with the phrase “digital by default”)

The technique for the SWOT analysis was interesting. We split into two groups (we had four people in each group, but it could be done in bigger groups too) and each group sat in a circle with our backs to each other. We had a pile of post-it’s each and spent ten minutes on each section of the SWOT analysis. What you do is you write an idea ie a strength on your post-it in five words or less and then pass it to the person on your right (we attached them, unsuccessfully,  to the chairs, but if you’re comfortable with each other you could place them on the next person’s leg!) The next person then adds to it in some way (again in five words or less) and then passes it along. If it triggers a new idea you start another post-it for it, so each post-it has a unique idea on it. You should end up with a few post-its going around! At the end of the ten minutes you get up and go to a bit of wall or desk and work to group the ideas together in themes. The theme phrases then go on the SWOT analysis, we used a flip chart. It was certainly interesting to see what themes emerged, and how often they came back to the same principle.

For the last few minutes we did an ideas exchange for time management tips. There were some very useful ones, which I’ll list below, but I would be interested to know what other tips people have (comments welcome!)
1) Breaking big To Do tasks into smaller tasks which are easier to cross off
2) We have  large shared folder for all of our documents, and one of the staff members has a folder on their desktop with shortcuts to their often used one (it saves trying to remember where it’s filed!)
3) Turning off email alerts to avoid distractions and tangents
4) Creating a To Finish list at the end of the day, so you haven’t got to try and remember the half finished stuff tomorrow morning
5) One staff member plans to undertake a Time Audit to find out where her time is going (which I might investigate!)
6) 1:3:5 To Do lists. Each day you do One big task, Three medium ones and Five small tasks.  For me as a Health Librarian that might be a Literature Search as a big/time consuming task. Three smaller, but not simple tasks such as a training session, some admin work or the spreadsheet I’m working on, and then five small tasks like sending a quick email enquiry,  or making a phone call.

 

Edited 24/02/2015 to correct some typos I would have spotted if I’d proof read the post before publishing!

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