Editors, manage time to be successful

During these days when time and resources are short, a community weekly editor needs to manage a most important resource – time.
Management pays the editor for a certain number of hours each week and requires the editor to get the most out of those hours.
Some editors, who have the mistaken belief they need to work many extra hours, do so in part because they do not manage their time.  I found later in my career when I managed my time, the task usually took less time than I had planned.
Equally important, manage your staff’s time, even if you only have one reporter and a part-time sports editor.
There are many sophisticated time management systems. Mine was simple. I started on Monday and wrote down all the tasks that had to be done that week and on what days.
Then on five index cards with hours written on each one, I’d time when to do certain tasks and go to certain meetings.
When I finished the task, I’d cross it out and perhaps add a new one.  You’ll find you’ll even have time for a game of golf one afternoon.
So editors, here are some tips to conserve your time.
* Close your office door; if you leave it open, some one will come in. You deserve quiet time.
*Get the monkey off your back.  Delegate, if you don’t, your staff will gladly let you do the assignment.
*Manage your overset.  Use it.  Don’t just add to it.  Do that by assigning one fewer story that week.
* Give community members a chance to do your work, particularly now when stories and photos can be E-Mailed.  Train them in a special session. You’d be surprised how volunteers will take notes and photos on away games, knowing they’ll get published.
* Avoid answering routine questions.  Train your front desk people to answer the routine questions.  Use forms for information whenever possible.
*Recruit interns.  I know they take time to manage, but their yield in writing routine stories and good stories is worth it.  Colleges will work with you to get good interns.
* Have planned staff meetings.  Have an agenda, demand staff come with story ideas and plan out the length of assigned stories.  The staff meeting is the big time to manage story number and development.
*Plan a central visual page 1 story during the staff meeting so you’ll always have a good page one anchor. You won’t have to waste time getting a good feature at the last minute.
* Just say No.  Everyone wants the newspaper editor to be at their meeting and be on their committee.  The word “No” is a time saver.
What time saver works for you?  Let me know and I’ll share it with our readers.
–Don Heinzman presents workshops mainly for community weekly staffs and editors. He also advises editors who are just starting, and has written a manual for them.  Call him at 763-441-1656 or dhein0219@aol.com.

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