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Time to take stock -- of time

improvements do not appear to make people more productive, according to leading management consultant, Paul Loftus.

The industrial psychologist, who is in Bermuda to give several seminars this month, added that the problem exists not just on Bermuda, but around the world.

"People are working longer hours and we are not getting the productivity you would expect,''he said.

He said that white collar workers had gone from working 35 hour weeks to working over 50 hours, while blue collar workers had done the reverse.

And he said this, plus time-saving devices in the work-place, should, in theory, lead to increased productivity.

Mr. Loftus said that managers had to look at the effectiveness of their work and had to identify things that wasted their time and learn to manage them better.

According to his research, managers "waste'' on average two hours a day on trivial matters with the top three time-wasters coming in at telephone, e-mail and ineffectual meetings.

In his seminar, being held next week through the Bermuda Employer's Council called "Time Management for Managers'', Mr. Loftus aims to teach managers how to prioritise, organise, and minimise time wastage.

"We are not taught how to manage time, either at school or at college or university,'' he said. "And time is the only non-renumerable resource. It can't be begged, borrowed, bought or stolen. I like to turn the saying `there's no time like the present' around to there is no present like time.'' He said there is a difference between efficiency and effectiveness in work, and that getting through a whole stack of papers by the end of the day may be efficient, but if something was missed because of not prioritising work, then this was not an effective way of working.

"You are not getting the productivity and people are working longer hours.

This can lead to stress, which leads to lower productivity and then burn out.

Then you are not much use to your organisation or yourself.

Time is the essence of management "With increased education and skills and longer hours, you have to wonder what is happening. What is this doing to productivity.

"If you have a meeting for an hour, and reduce it to half an hour, you are doubling productivity. If your average call takes six minutes, and it can be done in two minutes, your productivity has trebled. You can still do your work and be courteous to someone on the phone.

"People find their time is eaten up. And we have to learn to say `no'. If you take on more work which means you miss a deadline because you are taking on too much work, then you have to avoid this. You need to be able to know what can be done. People use excuses that if they don't do it themselves, it won't be done right. But if it is done to the standard acceptable to your company, then delegate.'' Mr. Lofuts gets the attendees at his seminar to fill out time logs to see where their time goes, and write down the top ten time-wasters in their jobs.

He defines `time wasters' as "something that interferes with your ability to do your job in the most effective way.'' Then arrive at solutions, such as giving time-limits to telephone calls, and implement them. He added: "You've heard the phrase, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, well, if you don't implement the solutions, then there will be no change.'' He then says managers need to complete a progress report or they may fall back into bad habits. The final step he says is to complete a new time log and compare it to the old one to compare results.

"You have to respect other people's time,'' he said. "As the saying goes, time is money, and that phrase exists in every language in one form or another.''