2. Sort your priorities. How do you know what
you need to do if it is not in a prioritized order?
After you realize there is an issue with running out
of time, it's time to get everything in order. How
do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, of
course! That is what this step is about. Start with
the top item on the stack and sort everything by
• Important — these are things with short
deadlines. If it is a project due within a week
it belongs in the important file. (I refrain from
using the word "urgent" because it tends to
add more stress.)
• Needed — these are things with intermediate
deadlines. If it is due within a month it belongs
in the needed file.
• To-Do — these are things that need my attention. They do not have definite deadlines or
they are ongoing items.
If you are more technical, you can set priorities in
your email as well. You'll see examples of this later.
3. Schedule your time. Now you know what needs
to be done and when it's time to get it on the
calendar. This can be done using handwritten lists,
a desk calendar, or an electronic calendar such as
Google Calendar or Microsoft's Outlook product.
Outlook is my option for scheduling. I have all
daily tasks scheduled in the Outlook calendar and
color coded by task family. For example, meetings
are coded gray, projects are blue, personal time is
black, and on-going responsibilities are red. I know
by glancing at my calendar each morning how
many meetings I have for that day and what times.
I have a separate calendar for the personal tasks I
complete each day for the blog and the book.
4. Time-block. This is the most important element
in managing my time effectively and getting my
tasks done. As you can see on my calendar, I have
specific times scheduled for return phone calls
and emails. If you are able to time-block, I highly
recommend doing so. I am focused on one task
at a time, and I do not look at email or answer
the phone during that time. Time-blocking works
well if you set the expectation with your customers. Let them know you will return phone calls
and emails at the top of each odd or even hour.
My voicemail is set up with this so whoever is
leaving me a message knows when to expect
a return phone call from me. You can also utilize the out-of-the-office assistant via Microsoft
Outlook or another email program to let people
emailing you know when they should expect a
response. Setting expectations is key in great
5. Avoid distractions. Concentration cannot be
effective with distractions. I don't know about
you, but there are times when I quite possibly could be considered to have an attention
problem. Turn off the "You've got mail" alert on
your email program. Seeing the pop-up on your
computer can add to your stress. Additionally,
there are so many electronic devices with pretty
lights and cute sounds that threaten to grab our
attention. When I am working, my cell phone is
on silent and it is turned upside down. There is
not a vibration, a trill, a song, or light from it that
I can see. Don't be tempted to open your social
media page. The various social media outlets are
time stealers and wasters!
Once you get going you will start to feel accomplished and less stressed. The mortgage business is
stressful enough, don't add to the stress! Use your
time to your advantage.
Kimberly A. Dewberry is VP Secondary Operations for First
National Bank of Trenton. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org