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7 Time Management Hacks for Super-Busy Compliance Professionals

4 min read
Oct 27, 2015

Compliance is a complicated, high-risk and demanding industry. For those responsible for keeping their company up to date, it can be overwhelming. Yet with some creative time management tips, you can keep up to date without adding to your stress level. These hacks will help you work smarter, not harder.

As a compliance professional, your time is valuable and your work is essential. You provide meaningful guidance and assistance, keeping your company safe, healthy and in compliance. That's why it's so important that you spend your time as efficiently and effectively as possible.

These 7 time-saving, focus-increasing and productivity-boosting hacks will help you do just that! Let's dive in.

1. Refresh Your Perspective.

Compliance can be extremely stressful. Daily pressures can appear to reduce the significance of your contributions and make you lose sight of the importance of your work. But this mentality is a productivity and culture-killer.

To be more productive, the first thing you need to do is remind yourself of the value of your work. Whether you're leading the compliance department or are a new hire just learning the ropes, remind yourself that your work makes your company a little bit better and a little bit stronger every day.

If you work with a designated compliance team, consider expressing your appreciation for the rest of the group. A small gesture of kindness like this can mean the world to others, and visibly improve your culture of compliance! 

By taking a few minutes every morning to express self-appreciation and gratitude, you will be more energetic and positive throughout the day. This may sound Pollyanna-ish to some of our seasoned compliance vets, but you'll be surprised by how much this simple, subtle act will improve your work life.

2. Identify Daily, Weekly, Monthly Quarterly and/or Annual Priorities.

The first practical hack is to spend a few moments at the start of the day identifying top priorities. Setting these priorities will help you manage your time more efficiently, provide clarity and a even a greater sense of accomplishment. 

Naturally, you'll prioritize items that absolutely must be accomplished that day. Are there hard compliance-related deadlines that must be met? These might be higher priority tasks that would preclude others on your to-do list - at least for that day. Make sure to designate enough time for each task.

Take it a step further by identifying weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual compliance goals. By balancing short- and long-term priorities, you'll be able to better evaluate the relative importance of items on your to-do list. 

3. Get Everyone On the Same Page at the Outset.

Since compliance involves collaborating with various departments, it is worth getting specific to-do lists out to all involved departments as early as possible. Consider creating a timeline that includes specific deadlines for each task, as well as who is responsible, to track the progress through the departments.

This simple hack will help establish clear expectations, and open the door for increased communication. Getting coordinated at the beginning will reduce the stress on all the parties, including you!

Related: Creating Reliable Risk Assessments

4. Don't Multitask.

Research has repeatedly shown that multi-tasking is terrible for your productivity - in fact, a recent study found that 98 percent of people simply can't multitask. That is, trying to do multiple things at once makes us do each less well. Our brains don't focus well on multiple tasks or activities simultaneously, and focus is essential to productivity.

One of the simplest ways to reduce multitasking is to unplug. It feels like technology would allow us to multitask more effectively. Aided by smartphones and tablets, it's possible to email in meetings, or try to finish a report while on a conference call - but it's not beneficial. The reality is that, for most of us, we're just more distracted and distractible.

Instead of actively checking your phone or email, set a designated time for reconnecting, like the last five minutes of every hour. Then focus solely on the task at hand until that specific time. 

5. Build in Breaks.

Once you finish a task, take a breather before diving into the next one. A quick walk around your office can give you the few minutes you need to refresh and refocus before tackling the next item on your to-do list. Even just stretching at your desk can help you clear your head and bring your best to the next task.

6. Reduce Digital and Physical Clutter.

Distractions reduce our ability to focus and be productive, and there are a seemingly infinite number of distractions. Not only will being more organized help you find things more quickly, many studies show that clutter increases stress. Start eliminating clutter by reducing those distractions in the most well-trafficked places: your desk and your inbox.

If you're buried under a pile of papers, take 30 minutes to organize your desktop and file that paperwork. If your inbox is packed, unsubscribe from newsletters that you never read and create filters to organize your incoming mail. Consider creating folders for each project, colleague or topic, depending on how your team is organized and your email habits. Not only will it make things easier to find, it will enable you to be less stressed and more productive.

7. Develop Systems to Streamline and Manage Routine Tasks.

If you have routine projects or tasks, develop systems that make them less manual. This may be as simple as implementing a tool like Trello, a collaborative project management tool. Or it may be more complex, like setting up a report that will generate automatically. 

This hack is designed to improve efficiency, so don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good! For detail-oriented people and perfectionists, which compliance officers often are, this is a real trap. 

If you start spending more time on developing the "system" than making progress, it may not be worth it. 

While not everything can be automated, if there's something you do every day, week or month, there's most likely room to improve.

Ncontracts Viewpoint: These 7 time-management hacks are designed to help you be more productive, focused and efficient. Here's a bonus: to be at your best, you need to take time away from work to reduce stress and engage your brain in different ways. Make sure to take some time for yourself on the weekends and get adequate rest. Your company will benefit from you staying on top of your game!

This blog is part of a series of posts in which we'll explore how to be healthier and happier at work, and improve work-life balance targeted at compliance professionals and senior executives. We hope that you enjoy them! 

Are you dealing with work-related conundrums you'd like us to cover? Got an idea for something we could discuss next? Looking for more insight about compliance hot topics? We can't wait to hear from you! Just click here to share your insights.



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