Administrators, what can you do with a minute?

Managing time (or simply the notion of not having enough of it), seems to be a daily challenge for all learning providers. We asked providers from the further and higher education space as well as the work-based learning sector; to tell us their common day to day headaches; and we weren’t surprised to read that 25% of the post 16 sector find ‘lack of time’; the squeeze on people and the need to do more with less, a constant pressure.

This is not a new story; it’s one we’ve been hearing for years – so how effectively are we adapting to change? How efficient are we becoming? Is time simply being squeezed more and more every year? Or are we squeezing more only to find the administrative requirements are actually getting greater with more learners in the ecosphere; and yet the hours in the day remain at an all-time constant.   

So doing more with less. What does this actually mean?  One thing we’ve noticed is that daily challenges are impacting strategic priorities. Giving someone the most efficient tools allows them time to do something else, which might be more important, like say, working with students. In here we’ll talk a little about what you could do with extra time.

What can you do with a minute?

Eat an ice cream? Fill out an over complicated form? Whip yourself into a panicked time-stricken frenzy?

In a recent education survey carried out by Tribal, having time to get stuff done is a daily challenge. So here are our top tips for utilising your minutes, so you can ensure that the top priorities you told us you were concerned about, including recruitment activity (68%) and jumping through funding hoops (51%), aren’t scuppered by not having enough time in the day.

Minute makeover

It’s easy to look at a task and be overwhelmed by how long it will take you to sort out, so, we put it off for another day - and long may it dwindle on your forever growing to do list.

The minute makeover is designed to do a task for ONLY one minute at a time. Built up over the week, these minute tasks will contribute to a considerable shift in mindset and help you spend more time doing what you’re there to do. 

1. Declutter your mind and environment

Those little tasks, the unfiled paperwork and general desk clutter that hangs over our heads, keeps us from focusing on the important tasks. Spend one minute decluttering, if you can file it, do it, if you can bin it, throw it, if you don’t need it, find it a new home - and throw away the pens that don’t work! Be ruthless and don’t let stuff pile up and create anxiety. Better still – go paperless! We can show you how…

2. Clean up your computer desktop

An organised computer or device has the same effect as a tidy desk. Spend one minute making sure you don’t have out of date funding spreadsheets on your desktop or version 101 of a Business Intelligence Powerpoint presentation you did 10 years ago… if you haven’t needed it in 10 years, you’re not likely to need to access it straight from your desktop.

3. Identify something you can delegate and update that person

Got a job that you keep meaning to do but never get around to? Shout up and ask someone else to help you. Or ask those around you for ideas on the best way to get that task done… if no one is available to help, they might spare you a minute to give you a better way, whether that’s a programme shortcut or a report you can schedule at a click instead of compiling from scratch every week.

4. Write a list of things that distract you and try to remove one from your life

Spend 60 seconds writing a list of the things that distract you or slow you down every day. Is it your IT equipment? Others chatting in the team? Email alerts? The view from your window? When you get another spare minute, fathom a plan to minimise the distraction.

5. Read something that’ll inspire you

Whether it’s your LinkedIn newsfeed or favourite blogs from across the sector, rekindle your passion for what you do and inspire yourself for 60 seconds once a day and see what ideas spring front of mind!

6. Breath

It’s easy to let things build up on top of us and make us feel like we don’t know where to start. If that’s a familiar feeling, try a relaxation technique that helps to calm the mind, making it easier for you to think clearly - breath in for four seconds and then breath out for six seconds – repeat for the full minute.

7. Prioritise your priorities 

Write a to do list that only includes three small things, rank the tasks in order of priority and do one thing at a time, starting from the top. Whether that’s to update a learner’s details, to pull off a report or plan an entire exam seating hall layout - don’t get distracted and don’t stop until the first item on the list is done.

8. Pay someone a well-deserved compliment 

When we’re busy it’s often easy to become insular and to forget those around you (who are also busy!). Take 60 seconds to tell someone what they’ve done is impressive. Spreading positivity breeds positivity and not only will that person feel more accomplished, they’re also more likely to support you when you need it most.

9. Organise those little reminders 

Spend a minute scheduling yourself eReminders that you’re likely to otherwise forget. Whether you’re waiting on a decision from a senior leader, you’ve promised to send an email to a colleague, or you need to chase a supplier, make a list of reminders for that week or month and as soon as they come in – deal with them – don’t snooze.

10. Be the master of your own diary

Don’t be afraid to say to a demanding colleague that you can help them, but not right now. Give them a timeframe that suits you and your priorities. If that doesn’t help them, they’ll have to find an alternative solution to their problem.   

We’re empowering many colleges, universities and employers to give their staff more time.

“Our experience of managing apprenticeships has improved since working with Tribal, for one thing, we have more time to support learners.”

Steve Palmer, Head of Education and Training at Leonardo Helicopters.

If you saved a single minute for every hours’ work, each week you could sit down and actually speak to a learner, one on one, and see how they are progressing in their apprenticeship/course/social life etc. You’d have more time to update a learner’s details on your system, see who is at risk of failing in your class, talk to them and maybe help turn their situation around.

We're working to make our systems as efficient as possible so providers have those spare minutes, which turn to hours, which turn to conversations, to relationships, to engagement, to more passing and fewer failings.

So isn’t it about time we took control of our own time?

For more of your sector challenges and priorities, view our education survey below.

What are the real challenges and issues people working in education face?

Watch the video to see how Tribal empowers Leonardo Helicopters with more time.

Lauren Hancox

Lauren Hancox

Lauren is Head of Marketing Communications at Tribal Group and is responsible for the delivery of Tribal’s brand messaging and marketing communications strategy. As well as being a marketing enthusiast, Lauren enjoys anything to do with words – writing them, reading them or talking them! She’s a lover of literature and also has (an expensive) passion for travel and exploration.

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