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Ethan J. Mings

Grinding Through the Workload

Grinding Through the Workload

If you are looking at a long list of things to get done this week, you are not alone. I’m often asked how does one manage the growing list of work with a busy schedule. Here are three (3) tips that you may find helpful.

  • Tip #1 – Turn off Your E-mail

    Yes, turn off your e-mail. One way to get some focused work done is to turn off your e-mail and focus on the task at hand. Personally, I like to check my e-mail about every 50 minutes. I put my Blackberry away to avoid the flashing light or beeps from incoming e-mail. This allows me to focus. With less interruptions, I can get some work done.


  • Tip #2 – Make a List the Night before and stick With It

    If you make a list of things that need to be done the night before, it’s easier to get started on it first thing in the morning. I find I can only plan about three major things to complete in a day. I have to account for phone calls, sudden meetings etc. I think the key is to make the list as reasonable as possible to ensure you can be successful.


  • Tip #3 – Ask for Help with Getting Organized

    If you find the lists are getting too long, seek out assistance in getting organized. The help can be in the form of a friend, a colleague or a course. I think it is just helpful to ask for tips and advice from others on how they manage their busy workloads. One of the best investments I made two years ago was visiting the folks at Priority Management for their one day training program on Microsoft Outlook.


If you are looking for a training program, I highly recommend the course. To learn more visit


Planning Ahead for the Fall of 2010

It’s summer and this is a great time of the year to plan ahead to the fall. Here are few things to consider as you develop the calendar for fall.

Strategic Plan Update – The fall is a good time of the year to review the status of your strategic plan. Set aside time for your board and senior time to review the status of the strategic plan. In building a process for reviewing your plan, you may want to consider the following resource.


Contract Obligations – If your organization is funded by a funder, set aside time to review the terms of the contract. Is your organization on schedule to complete all of the requirements of the contact, on budget and on time? If not, develop the plans required to close the gap to ensure your organization can meet the terms of the contract.

Quality Management Review – Establish a time to review the quality indicators and measurements for your organization for the period ending June 30th and then ending September 30th. Is your organization on track with the required indicators? If not, explore what steps are required to bring the indicators into standard. (Tip – What processes need further investigation?)

For an additional resource, consider using the Ontario Health Quality Council’s Report as part of the review process. The following is a link to the LHIN Analysis Report


Watching the Money – The economy continues to evolve and the fall will be a good time to consider the economy and its impact on your organization. There are a wide variety of sources on the economic trends for Ontario, Canada and other countries. A great resource on economic trends is the Canadian Banking system. To learn more about the resources, visit the following resource page from our website.


The fall appears to be far away. However, planning for special meetings on key topics and confirming dates this summer will enable staff, volunteers and funders to work together to reach the goals needed for the 2011/2012 fiscal year.


Making Sense of the Days

Since my last note, the learning curve continues as I discover more about myself than I do about using Priority Management on a daily basis. It seems, when you have a clear way to look at life, life becomes just that much easier to understand.

Here are five new lessons I have learned about myself.

  • I really need at least 30 minutes a day to plan the next day. There are no short cuts. The time is needed to reflect on the day completed and identify what MUST get done on the next day. With so many opportunities and distractions, it is easy to get lost.
  • I have only so much processing power in a day, period. I’m not sure where I developed the bad habit of thinking that I could process information all day long. It is important to take some time out which is not processing data. It’s something I’ve learned to include in my calendar.
  • I have a different work week. The one think I enjoy about my work is the diversity of projects. With the diversity is a seven day work week. Some weekends are off, others are on, week nights are on and others are off. So, I’m starting to build that into the planning.
  • I can only do one thing at a time. Not sure if that is news but it is the truth. Trying to keep six things going at the same time is simply not that much fun. With a single focus approach, I tend to get things done quicker and they make more sense.
  • I can find additional time by making the software work for ME. I continue to experiment with various pieces of software to see how they connect with each other. I discovered I can write my blog entries in MSWord and post them to my blog. That saves me about 10 minutes per blog. Add that up over a year, it adds about a day to my year in saved blogging time. I’ll take it!

The Priority Management Course was a solid investment. There are immediate and long term benefits and I know I am just starting to discover. They secret is to stick with the process and the principles over time.

I’ll keep you posted on the journey.