5 Time Management Tips for SBMs

October 12th, 2017

School Business Managers and office staff are often juggling a number of different tasks, issues and responsibilities. Keeping on top of all of them can be a struggle at times. Octavo’s School Finance Manager, Patrick Leavy, gives his top 5 tips for managing your time so that you can work effectively and efficiently.


  1. Design a Good Filing System

Adhere to it as you go along but also schedule time in each day to file odds and ends.

If you don’t have a place for something you either need a place for it or it is very likely that you probably don’t need it.

If you can’t find a document within 15 seconds then something is wrong. That applies to paper documents and computer documents.

Good filing could be the single biggest contributor to working effectively as a business manager. 

  1. Make a List

To-do lists are a good way to stay organised.

Keep one single to-do list, to avoid losing track of multiple lists. Keeping a list will help you work out your priorities and timings and plan your time so that the non-urgent tasks are saved for another time.

Either use paper or an app/programme on your computer. Using an app means you can sync it to your mobile phone and access the list on the go (Outlook is a good example). If you put your to-do list for the day into your Outlook calendar then you can not only prioritise but time profile the work too. If you don’t get around to a task then you can always drag it into the next day.

  1. Focus on Results

Good time management at work means doing high-quality work, not high quantity. Try to not worry about how much you have to do but instead on whether the work you’re doing is producing the desired outcomes.

Remember, spending more time on something doesn’t necessarily achieve more so if you are stuck, take a break and move onto another task.

  1. Prioritise Important Tasks (not necessarily urgent ones!)

Tasks can be grouped into four categories:

  • Urgent and important
  • Not urgent but important
  • Urgent but not important
  • Neither urgent nor important

Concentrating on  the  “not urgent but important” activities is good time management practice. That way you lower the chances of activities ever becoming “urgent and important”.

  1. Practise the ‘Four Ds’

This is good  for those of us who suffer from email stress. Making a decision the first time you open an email is crucial for good time management.

The “four Ds”:

  • Delete – If it isn’t relevant or something you need to action then delete the email – it will only clutter your inbox! You can probably delete half the emails you get immediately
  • Do –  If the email is urgent or can be completed quickly then action it immediately. That way you don’t have to worry about it at a later date
  • Delegate – If the email can be better dealt with by someone else then forward it to the appropriate person rather than spending time solving an issue you never will fully be able to
  • Defer – Set aside time later to spend on emails that require longer action (flag them or add them to your to do list)

Author: Patrick Leavy (Finance service)

Good time management at work means doing high-quality work, not high quantity.