Quality Progress - January 2014 - (Page 48)
BY JOSEPH D. CONKLIN
Putting Pen to Paper
Task management tips for the digitally unhip
I HAVE a running challenge with myself:
technology supporter Al Gore and a few
and the associated significant milestones
I try to be part of the digital age without
other talented people changed our world
(see Table 1 for a sample). The milestones
being enslaved by it. I'm comfortable
under each project reflect deadlines 30-to-
with PCs and laptops, and I am part of
When it comes to managing my tasks,
60 days ahead. Generally, my project lists
the Facebook and LinkedIn scenes. My
I still make do with pen and paper. In
remain current over the following two to
organization uses Microsoft Outlook for
the course of my career, I have seen task
four weeks. Milestones come from four
email and scheduling meetings. But I don't
management approaches that rely on
do Twitter or blogs, and I still keep my
complicated logs or electronic aids. They
1. The department's calendar of recurring
landline in case of cell phone tower out-
usually strike me as a solution in search of
ages. And I'm still not used to the idea of
phones that double as cameras.
I am part enough of the Internet age to
If my job required extensive outside
travel or communication with the general
have only a dim memory of what it was
public, I suspect digital time and task
like to organize an office before early
management would loom larger. Currently,
I have five major responsibilities at work:
list / TABLE 1
1. Reliability office liaison.
1. Reliability office liaison: I am one
services it provides at the same time
2. Updates to the department's master list
of project requests from other offices.
3. Announcements in my supervisor's
weekly staff meetings.
4. All-hands-on-deck meetings called for
special or urgent situations.
of several statisticians who code and
These four sources ensure my project
update the programs used by the reli-
list is always aligned with organizational
ability office to evaluate new designs.
goals. To ensure I set appropriate time-
2. Interoffice strategy meeting repre-
lines and milestones, I also take regular
* Update modeling software.
sentative: For my department, I serve
notes in meetings and seek frequent clari-
* Design statistical protocols for new
on the steering committee that oversees
fication from my supervisor.
our division's strategic plan.
* Evaluate data storage features of new
stress testing equipment.
2. Interoffice strategy meeting.
* Arrange trips for outside consultants.
* Complete award nominations for
outstanding staff contributions.
* Write department part of next slide
3. Database management team.
* Archives and records meeting.
* Contractor qualification audits.
4. Shared computing task force.
* Security testing protocol.
* Budget and schedule review meetings.
5. Conference postings and papers.
* Internal search utility for papers.
* ASQ conference paper submissions.
* Outside source permissions.
* Reviews for proceedings publication.
48 QP * www.qualityprogress.com
3. Database management team mem-
After the project list is in place, I finish
Friday afternoon by preparing the task list
ber: I help a group charged with manag-
for the upcoming week. It consists of two
ing product performance data provided
sections: one for meetings and another
by field reports and outside labs.
for the major to do's. I leave space on the
4. Advisor on shared computing com-
sheet to track issues during the course of
mittee: I assess the possible impact of
the current week and to drive the contents
changes on my organization's ability to
of the following week's task list.
provide statistical services during IT
5. Conference postings and papers co-
The task list is a combination of my independent activities and things I must do
to prepare for meetings. The tasks are pri-
ordinator: I arrange the submission of
oritized by deadline; tasks without a due
abstracts, dress rehearsals and internal
date that week fall to the bottom of the
department review of papers for presen-
list. I sort tasks that do not have a dead-
tation at professional conferences.
line by order of importance. The lowest
If your job resembles mine, I can offer
priority items settle to the bottom. Table
you a network outage-proof routine that
2 is an example of what a typical task list
I carry out at the end of the workweek to
looks like on Friday afternoon after it's
assess my progress and plan ahead.
drafted. Table 3 shows what it might look
First, I create a list of current projects
by the end of the following Friday.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Quality Progress - January 2014
Mr. Pareto Head
Breaking Down Barriers
Follow the Fundamentals
Back in Service
Quality in the First Person
One Good Idea
Quality Progress - January 2014