Thursday, 24 August 2017

25. Work place - working efficiently

8 months later and I finally reached a point where I am efficient in my work…well, most of the time. One thing I’ve realised about myself is that when something comes up while I’m busy with one thing, if it is urgent and/ or will take little of my time, I’d rather stop what I’m doing currently and attend to that thing before I forget about it. I’d rather get it over and done with there and then instead of procrastinating it, otherwise it won’t get done. If it’s something that will take long, which I’d only realise while attending to it, I’d keep the paper work or a sticky note on the desk or on the laptop where it will not pass my eyes, so that I know it has to be attended to before end of day. I also don’t like papers on my desk, so putting them on my desk is motivation enough to attend to them and to get rid of them before end of day. However, it’s also important to be realistic: if I can’t do everything today, there’s always ‘prioritizing’ – doing the urgent tasks first, and there’s always “first thing in the morning” (lol).

My tasks
The 2 most important tasks I always have for the day are:
 1. To attend to emails with suppliers (most of which relate to discrepancies between the statements and our records, which may result in a number of tasks being done to sort out the discrepancies) and

2. To ensure that creditors' reconciliation of all suppliers that send their statements are completed either by end of day or by the next morning for payment preparation.

When it comes to supplier emails, I do not attend to the next email until I attend to the email opened. If the email relates to something I cannot attend to at the time, I’ll keep it as “unread” until I attend to it. I always want to have 0 unread inbox messages by the time I leave work, so that motivates me to attend to every email. As much it is something logical to do, I finally got the hang of attending to the oldest emails first before newer emails – yes, during the first few months at work, I was pretty slow. Can you imagine the number of emails I got everyday? They piled up and I ended up have too many because of being so slow to attend to them on the days they were sent. It's very important to attend to emails as soon as possible.

There are other smaller tasks that I need to do during the day, like filing invoices and help various departments on whatever I can assist with in my capacity with the filed invoices: be it finding individual invoices that need to be paid (for suppliers who don’t send statements) or finding invoices for purchasing or receiving department when they find discrepancies they came across at a later stage, or if they need to re-check something.

Working together
I’ve realised that all departments are dependent on each other. Any discrepancies I come across with suppliers between what is on their statement and what is in our records will result in me consulting the purchasing department and / or the receiving department. However, the individual persons in the departments may be busy with their own daily duties, and thus I had to find a way to come to them at a convenient time. Recently, I had an idea to actually keep a stack of queries I’d need help with from a particular individual, so that I come to them at once for all the queries, and attend to them then and there, instead of consulting on each query as it comes, one by one, disturbing the daily flow of the individual.

Sometimes things won’t necessarily work out the way I expected: for instance, the individual is not at work on the day, or the individual can only attend to me at a certain point in time. I’ve had to find alternative ways to a solution, or learn to be patient – which is much better when there are other tasks to be attended to, because those tasks will keep me busy for a while.

At times, I’d find that the discrepancy is a result of a task that wasn’t done by the individual in whichever particular department. In such cases, I know better that to ‘condemn’ the individual. I’d simply ask them to do whatever is required. This experience has also helped me acknowledge and understand that we are human beings and cannot be burdensome to the other, because it is not pleasant for one to be annoyed and feel pushed, as that will affect their attitude towards the work they do, and ultimately the efficiency in executing their tasks/duties. The 3 most important values I live by are integrity, respect and humility, and they have helped me a great deal when it comes to working with people.

Efficiency to me means executing tasks to the best of my ability without compromising the results expected: 'competency' and 'well-organised' being the key words. What’s more important to me is to ensure accurate results, not simply completing tasks for the sake of doing so. Since I have recently started working, of course there are some things I need to grasp and learn in order to be quicker at being efficient. It’s a learning curve, and I'm quite appreciative of having the opportunity to grow.

I trust you enjoyed this blog post. Please feel free to share your views on the topic, or whatever came to mind, whatever interested you as you were reading.

Thanks so much for your time and consideration. Until next time J

Monday, 24 July 2017

24. Experience versus qualification

This is a topic I feel very strongly about, especially now that I have entered the working world and see the need for both experience and qualification.

I believe that a qualification, be it a diploma or a degree, is merely a resource to assist one in whichever field they intend to work in, for that particular occupation/(s). The concern I have is when we spend years to obtain a qualification that we don't even know how we will use it, or even worse - obtain knowledge that may not be used at all!

Obtaining a qualification is good for getting knowledge, a foundation, a background of the field of work and/ or area of expertise one intends to be in. I realized that through the Accounting degree I obtained. However, it is not enough alone, and that's where the need for experience comes in.

I feel that experience is better than a qualification. Let me tell you why: A person with experience obtains knowledge, the actual knowledge required for that particular field of work, through work experience. In addition to that, they are more efficient in that they execute tasks faster and yield results at a faster pace than a person who only has more knowledge but not much experience, perhaps because of already having a system in place to tackle tasks. I've witnessed this at work. I come straight from the university without much experience but with so much knowledge,while my colleague that I work with is a master when it comes to efficiency - getting things done in the most quickest way...well quicker than I can. She can think on her feet. She does not have a qualification due to personal circumstances.

Personal views

On a personal note, it upsets me when we undermine those who do not have qualifications yet have years of experience, and are efficient in their work. If an employee should get a qualification, it should be for the sake of getting better at their job or for them to grow into another filed of expertise, whatever reason other than for the sake of being taken seriously or to not be undermined.

This is quite a short blog post, but I merely wanted to bring a point across.
Thanks so much for your time and consideration. Please fell free to share your view and thoughts on this topic.

Until next time :)

Monday, 17 July 2017

23. Time-management: made simpler with 'DayPipe' applications software

This blogpost is quite different from all the others - this is a guest post.

I was approached by a fellow blogger - Matic from DayPipe, whose team have invented pretty awesome applications software that individuals and small organizations can use to ensure efficiency and seeing results in the work, projects and / or tasks we have.
The guest post included here focuses on the 3 applications software they have invented. These applications are free for single users, and are charged for use by a group of people (like companies).

To get a complete picture of what DayPipe is about, check out their blog-post titled 'How to better use the most valuable resource:

Guest post by Daypipe
How to better use the most valuable resource: the 3 apps

This blog post is part 3 of the 3 series of blog posts, written by Matic from DayPipe team, about how we can better understand time organization in our 3x3 time organization matrix, which is further described in this post on our blog.

In the next lines, I want to present 3 online tools we use and are crucial for achieving pinnacle productivity.

Even though the post is oriented on team collaboration, which is often a part of student work and without exception a part of any real job, I also included some hints about how applications we use are useful in individual time organization, which is extremely important for a student.

1.) Team organization app: Trello

With Trello, we manage our team's activities. There are multiple methodologies for team organization that Trello can be used for, such as Kan Ban and Scrum. In our team, we use Scrum methodology with 1-week sprints. This means in a nutshell that the whole team gets together once a week when we define which tasks will be done in a week and who is responsible for each task. Then during the week, we'd have 15-minutes meetings whereby we only try to remove any roadblocks that occurred in the execution of the tasks.

During the weekly meetings, we often need to solve some problems with a good dose of creativity, and on Trello we only write down the findings and goals to which the team came to, together. Those are usually the best times with laughs and creativity.

On Trello, we usually keep the "large tasks" which are then executed during the weekly sprint by members, and include a bunch of smaller sub-tasks. Those sub-tasks are executed by all team members and kept in DayPipe by each member individually, together with any repetitive tasks each of us needs to take care of.

2.) Individual organization app: DayPipe

In our day-to-day operations, there is usually 2 types of work to be done: a constant workflow (for some it means marketing, for some development, for some running the business), and execution of sub-tasks or micro tasks, which help execute the larger tasks which sit in Trello in our case. The latter is some kind of a development job which is done by all of the team members, no matter in which field we work.

With the help of DayPipe, everyone keeps track of own activities and commitments, and two things are achieved as a by-product of a simple work process: (1) tracking of time which is spent on particular work or larger task, and (2) daily planning which assures each of us personally to meet the deadlines without pressure.

If Trello is used to help each of us, have a general overview of the team's movement, then DayPipe is used by each of us individually to profile our own time and know how much we can do with our current work-load. What's even more, DayPipe's collaboration features help us to have a peek into each other's flow of to-do's and have a crystal clear picture about who has too much on their plate, and who can take on more. It's the ultimate tool to organize the day when you want to get the job done and spare some free time for the good stuff in life, and to analyse where your most valuable resource, time, is going.

3.) Organized Cloud storage

Cloud storage is crucial because it helps us keep the files securely backed-up in case an issue occurred on the device (computer, tablet, smartphone, etc.) of any of the team members, and helps us work on the same files flawlessly when we are not at the same location. Please notice that the title starts with the word "Organized", and this is very important. Having a logical structure of the directories, folders and files, in combination with an agreement about what needs to reside where, is mandatory to minimize communication about what needs to sit where in the cloud.
Today, there is a large number of cloud storage service providers, which include Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, OneDrive, iCloud and more, and basically all of them offer the basic functionality and usually also a limited storage space for free.

Hope the article helps you either with organizing your personal or study life better! :) What do you use today to organize yourself?

About the Author:
Matic is an organization freak at DayPipe, taking care that DayPipe team is always on track and having fun. He takes care of the DayPipe features, and DayPipe blog. A while ago, he was a student, and today he is immersed in full-time activities on the web (but he often still feels like a student).