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Where Did My Day Go?


Recruitment News Article Series: The question of time management and understanding this area has fascinated many.  Some people use a notebook or diary and many others use technology or a phone app to keep track of priorities and calendars. That’s why it was interesting to see that Xerox has just released a desktop application called “The Business Of Your Brain", which tries to track the day by analyzing your Outlook habits.

“We’ve become so completely dependent on Microsoft Outlook,” says Christa Carone, Xerox’s chief marketing officer. “The first thing you do in the morning after you get that cup of coffee is click on the mail icon on your desktop. Now you start managing your day based on email and your calendar.”

The Business of Your Brain application uses a special algorithm to process your emails.  It can work out who sends the bulk of the “reply all” emails, who sends the most messages tagged as “urgent,” who actually turns up to all of your meetings, the number of minutes spent in each meeting, the type of email volumes you are producing and other shows up in all of your meetings, how much time you spend in meetings, what kind of email volume you’re generating, and other interesting insights on your daily work behaviour.

Carone isn’t just pushing this product onto the market, however. She’s also tried it on herself, with her team learning some interesting things over the past few months of testing.

As an example, 30% of Carone’s email volume comes on Friday. Though we normally think of Friday as a “slow” day, “Friday tends to be a pretty high activity day, with people gearing up for the weekend,” she says. The downside for managers? All your employees’ active email activity  with their friends and families about weekend plans, rather than being work related.

Carone found out that she used the buzz word “leverage” 65 times in one month!

She discovered that one active member was emailing her 3 or 4 times per hour with progress reports.

Carone also found out that “the amount of time spent in meetings is amazing.” On a typical day, she had 4.5 hours of meetings scheduled, with an average of 8 people per meeting — way too many to be focused. “I would question the productivity of that time,” she says. “When you actually look at it on a clock, it’s a little bit startling to me.”

On the upside, an examination of  her emails finds that “I use ‘thank you’ quite a bit,” says Carone. “Clearly my mother would be pleased.”

Having all of this information on hand is nice, but the true goal is for it to help you to be more efficient and effective. Carone, for instance, plans to use the word “leverage” less often. She and her email-happy work colleague have agreed to share less updates. In the long term the idea is to review how many people need to be in each meeting so that, rather than attending low-priority meetings, participants can get on and do more productive work.

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