Building Trust & Effectiveness in Congress
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Don't Just Handle Time and Communication Management - Conquer It

The workplace, in Congress or otherwise, is a constant overload of information and overstimulation of technological tools and communicative means. We receive emails, voicemails, snail mail, and texts, all of which can be incredible tools for efficiency, but only if you use them right.

The Personal Efficiency Program, a workout regimen for you and your brain to be as organized as possible, addresses the need for systematic organization to stay on top of your game. This program, recently delivered by CMF to House Legislative Directors provided participants the tools to take control of stacks of papers and hoards of emails to make systems that can work for us rather than against us. Here are three things I learned.

1. The Four Ds - Do it, Designate it, Delegate it, Dump it

The four Ds force us to deal with tasks immediately. When a task comes your way you choose to do it, designate it, delegate it, or dump it. Simply put it prevents the extensive to-do list (made up of actions to deal with actions) that never diminishes. It also improves your response rate to colleagues and constituents/stakeholders.

2. Batching

Batching is a huge time saver. As an office or business, implementing batching practices will increase productivity and keep an office atmosphere positive. Batching tasks allows us to really get a chunk of work done and truly feel like we have completed some tasks. For example, you can group similar tasks (calls, letters, etc.), hold regular one-on-one meetings, and batch items to discuss with staff/key contacts.

3. Reduce Distractions

In my darkest moments I have found myself reading one email, responding to another, glancing at a news article on my desk while I was originally editing an important memo due by close of business, and the phone is ringing. These are our current challenges that colleagues of every staff level face. If this sounds remotely like you – STOP, and do the following.

  • Turn off email notifications. Pinging noises and email pop-ups negatively impact your productivity. If you MUST have a notification for a specific person or keyword you can set up a special rule to allow that.  
  • Don’t interrupt work to respond to every new message.
  • Schedule specific times to check your email, or really “work through” your emails.
  • Keep a decluttered workspace.

These pointers are just the tip of the iceberg to stellar personal efficiency. But, implementing one or all three of these actions will dramatically improve your effectiveness at work and truly improve your outlook on “getting through it all.” Personal efficiency provides you the time to do what you really want.

 
 
 

ABOUT CMF

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CMF is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to helping Congress and its Members meet the evolving needs and expectations of an engaged and informed 21st century citizenry.

Our work focuses on improving congressional operations and enhancing citizen engagement through research, publications, training, and management services.

Read more about CMF

PROJECTS

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Communicating with Congress The Internet forever changed how citizens and Congress interacts. The goal of this project is to facilitate a more meaningful democratic dialogue.

 

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Gold Mouse Project
Congress should effectively communicate with and serve citizens online. CMF assesses congressional websites to identify best and innovative practices that can be more widely adopted by the House and Senate.

 

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Inside the Hill
Produced by Founding Partner Fleishman-Hillard, this video series allows you to hear directly from Members and staff on how technology is changing the way Congress works.

 

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Life in Congress
This novel research project by CMF and the Society for Human Resource Management has two goals: identify the factors that motivate congressional staff and shed some light on Congress as a workplace.

 

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21st Century Town Hall Meetings CMF seeks to continue our innovative work in this area by conducting comparative research on in-person town halls, online town halls, and telephone town halls.