C-Desk Technology | Old Vicarage | Rolleston | NG23 5SE | Tel: (+44) 01636 816466 | alec@visualrota.co.uk


To-Do List

We all have a to-do list, whether it be a mental tally or a physical list. When we are stressed and over worked the list just seems to get longer and longer. There are never enough hours in the day and you have to continuously re-prioritise the tasks. You would be amazed how many people are in the same boat. Everyday, the to-do list grows and grows with no end in sight. Personally, my task list is so long that it would take me a day just to write it out, and everyday I add at least six impossible tasks before breakfast. However I have several tricks to make my life easy.

Step 1: Separate the tasks into three classifications

Classification 1 Important and Urgent Classification 2: Important and not Urgent Classification 3: Not important but urgent You will find that the tasks move up the lists over time, so those that were important but not urgent, become more urgent. So you don’t have a daily task list you have a daily, weekly and monthly task lists. That way you can see what needs to be done each day, week or month.

Step 2: Prioritise the lists

Now I’ve had loads of training in prioritisation, It is not as simple as it sounds and you do really have to think about it. So to prioritise a list you need to assign each item a value. For this you need a criteria, a list of questions you need to ask yourself and grade them on a scale of 1-5. One being low and five being high. Questions like: will it make my life easier? Will it save the company money? Will it cost the company money if I don’t do it?, Is it a legal requirement? Will it help my career? Not all of the questions need to have equal weighting, so some can have double or triple weighting if you feel they are very important. Each time you add an item to the list give it a value, then you can order them by value. If the item has a deadline, add that to the item when writing out the list.

Step 3: Don’t get distracted

Each time you are interrupted in an important, detailed task, you have to start over again. So make time for the task. If you are interrupted, find a natural pause in the process and then take the phone call, or answer the important summons. When I am continuously interrupted, I always remember a story I was told at uni, about a person who was always busy but never achieved anything. because they were continuously re-prioritising. The story went along the lines of: a person wakes up, they start to get dressed, but realise they need clean clothes, so they go down stairs, on the way they see the milk has arrived and pick it up to put in the fridge. However the post is also there and needs to be dealt with so, they put down the milk, and pick up the post. then the phone rings, so they put down the post. After the phone call they feel hungry so go to the kitchen, but they don’t have the milk for the tea, so have to go and pick that up. But there is the post again, so they start sorting that out. By the end of the day, they haven’t managed to get dressed or achieve anything because they were continuously moving on to the next task before they had finished the old one. The story was to demonstrate the difference between being busy and being productive. I always found the idea of being exhausted from a day of continuous activity without anything to show for it particularly vivid. Hence each time my natural inclination to move on to the next task before I’ve finished the last kicks in, I envisage being surrounded by tasks not knowing where to start. It is a lot easier to finish a current task you are bored with than work out which task you should start with next. So my advice is prioritise, do what is important and make time to do the tasks, even if that means saying “no” every once in a while. Then while your to-do list may not get smaller, you will never feel over whelmed by it.

Enjoy Life

Do you have time to do the things you enjoy? Time to walk in the park, time to spend with the family, time to just read a book? We all have different ways of relaxing and often your lives seam so busy and work is so over whelming that we forget to make time for the little things. Work/life balance is about being focused at work and not being distracted by work when you have your time off. For most office hours jobs the difference between time off and time when you are at work is as stark as black and white. However a shift worker is working on lots of different days of the week, different times of day. So when is a Monday a day off and when is it a work day and when can work contact you? We set up shift operations where the shift pattern is created in advance for a year at a time. This means that it is very clear which days people are expected to work, and which days people have off. However, every shift manager knows, that’s all well and good, until someone takes a holiday or an absence occurs or the workload changes. What do you do then? Now ever shift pattern we make is tailored to the company, department and operation. Therefore we create a system that will match your requirements. We use a range of options to cover for holidays including: holidays included, holiday management plan, agency staff, and over-staffing on shift. We look at a range of different options and consider the cost implications, union agreements and workload requirements to create the optimal solution. For absence cover, we use other options because it is a different problem to holiday cover, including: flexible shifts, banked hours, cover shifts, overtime and cross skills matrix. Therefore your solutions allow you to define, when people are at work, when the are off work and when they can be contacted by work. We can also tell them the probability of being contacted on any day. Notice periods could be different too, hence while they might know the day they are to work months in advance, they might not know the length of the shift or the start time of the shift till much later. This allows for an increase in flexibility to create a better match for changing workloads. So from the manager’s point to view, they no longer need to to continually fire fight each day because they don’t know who will come into work with which skills. From the shift worker’s point of view, they no longer need to worry if they will be contacted on their days off. This means that everyone can have time to relax and start to enjoy life again.

Becoming Aware

We provide our clients with innovative solutions that help improve the performance of their shift operation and increase profitability. Our services enable organisations to run an effective shift operation that can operate unhindered with contingency planning. We can set up a proactive holiday and absence management procedure that allow shift operations to run at optimum capacity. This allows the organisation to meet their strategic objectives through effective and efficient operations. Our aim is to save you time. Time you would have spent analysing your workload, time you would have spent creating the shift pattern. Time you would have spent covering for holidays and time you would have spent justifying your budget.


We write the only shift managers text books in the world. Our book How to Manage your Shift Pattern, sells all over the world. It tells you how to set up a shift pattern that managers itself. We have also written a range of ebooks to help you understand and implement various aspects of shift operations including fatigue, holidays and banked hours.


For any organisations using shifts regardless of size and complexity you need an easy to use reliable software to organise them. Hence we created and designed VisualrotaX. It is designed to help you create and manage your shift pattern. It operates in Excel and is stacked with features to make running your shift pattern effortless.
The Old Vicarage Rolleston, Newark, UK NG23 5SE
C-Desk Technology
Consultants: Dr. Angela Moore Ph.D. Maths & Statistics Alec Jezewski B.Sc. Mech. Eng. & ran his own 24/365 operation for 15 years
Now available on YouTube
Find out about flexible shift working with Banked Hours and other flexible working techniques to improve overall operating efficiency. A new video is now available on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voAdCOmCCAo Banked Hours are the most efficient and cost effective method of absence cover. Absence cost companies millions each year, it costs money from less revenue, loss of production and loss of reliability. Then there is the cost of replacing the person. If you are in an office environment, the only recourse is to work overtime at weekends or to employ extra people to allow for some absence. This is not so for shift workers. There are multiple techniques available to shift managers to mitigate for absences. Banked Hours is a useful tool and is great for shift workers too. Once Banked Hours are implemented correctly, it can result in shift workers having an extra week or two off, paid at full rate as part of an overall increase in efficiency. Banked Hours also minimise the number of unpopular shifts including weekends and nights. This video is the first 30 minutes of an online course. The full course is available from: https://dr-moore.thinkific.com/ There is also a text book to accompany the course available from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Flexible-Shift- Working-Approach-Banked/dp/B0CKNZ9V4M/ For shift managers, this course is essential to understand how Banked Hours can benefit you and the department. It can also mean that all of your absence worries are dispelled and you can focus on the important issues, like improving the product, and planning the operation. Flexible working is all about improving the work/life balance of the employees. As the world's leading consultants on shift operations, we have implemented Bank Hours many times at the world's biggest organisations as part of an overall strategy, aimed to maximise productivity and reduce costs while improving the Work/life balance of the employees. Since covid, people enjoy working from home, but in a factory this is impossible. So flexible working allows factory workers and other essential workers, to enjoy the life style they want by giving them more quality time off. This video is aimed at: HR, shift managers, Union officials and team leaders. It is of interest to a wide range of industries including: factories, utilities, warehousing/supply chain, Government departments, Universities, Hospitals, manufacturing, hospitality and transport hubs. If you want to improve the work/life balance of your employees, then you need to consider flexible working. If as a manager you feel like you are always having to firefight, then you need to consider flexible working. Please share this with your shift managers and improve the working environment for everyone. We are available to help and tailor make a solution for you.