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Ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day? Ever feel like your full-time job, professional deadlines, children, and household chores are locked in mortal combat for control of your life? Even jail administrators – some of the best organizers and leaders in the corrections industry – can find themselves juggling daily tasks. Our chaotic schedules get the better of all of us at some point, but there are certain time management strategies that anyone can use to achieve a manageable work-life balance. Here are a few:

Calming the Chaos

Weather you’re pulling an all-nighter to complete an annual report for your Sheriff, or cramming a week’s worth of email replies into a single day, hard workers do whatever it takes to get the job done. However, burning the candle at both ends like this can compromise the quality of a person’s work, not to mention the tremendous amount of added stress the individual has to deal with. Instead of thinking only about the deliverables, we should take our own well-being into account. Is it wise for a factory owner to run his machinery twice as hard, so that it depreciates twice as quickly? Of course not; the same goes for human capital.

For jail administrators, long days at the office can be taxing, as their jobs are highly demanding. To stay ahead of the correctional industry’s breakneck pace, delegating and goal-setting are crucial practices to employ.  According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Guide to Effective Jail Operations, setting goals is vital because they “establish priorities that focus the organization’s work on activities that are essential to success.” After your facility’s goals have been set, it’s important to select and establish team leaders to work towards these goals. By dividing faculty into specific divisions and delegating responsibilities, jail administrators can ensure organizational focus.

Leading the Way to Success

Eisenhower Box infographic for the time management strategy of the same name.

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. Just the mere mention of the word can send chills down a person’s spine. Now just imagine the anxiety and unease associated with those deadlines falling off your shoulders like a robe; that’s the way you’ll feel when proper time management strategies are employed at your jail. Shouldn’t everyone in your facility feel the same?

It takes a strong leader to make time management an organization-wide priority. Rather than assigning large amounts of broad responsibilities to a team, a more focused approach can relieve tension for everyone. By breaking down large goals into smaller tasks, jail administrators can ensure that work gets done and subordinates don’t burn-out. This strategy is even more effective when the team itself chooses what tasks to work towards. According to an article published by The Specstimate, people “work better if they have tasks and goals which they have picked and committed to themselves.” Furthermore, this article lauds this strategy because it gives teams “a deeper sense of personal satisfaction.”

Prioritize the Priorities

Labor productivity chart showing general upward trend.

Because the average U.S. worker’s productivity has increased so much recently, the saying “time is money” has never been more true. Our time is both valuable and limited, so wasting it can feel doubly painful. According to Sue W. Chapman and Michael Rupured of the University of Georgia, knowing how to spend your time is the most valuable part of a time management plan: “Determining whether you are investing your time in the most important activities can help you to determine a course of action.”

As an example, the least important task for jail administrators may be something like responding to media inquiries or tracking various facility statistics by hand (we can help with that!), so less time should be allocated for those tasks. Up next on the ladder of importance may be implementing rules and procedures, so ample time should be set aside accordingly. Finally, the most important tasks should be prioritized with the most amount of time, to ensure their completion. Writing reports, creating budgets, and developing hiring/training programs all have their place in the time management hierarchy, just be sure you don’t spend an inordinate amount of time organizing that hierarchy.

Effective time management is essential in any successful organization. With it comes the ability to differentiate between what is important and what is urgent. Since many duties of jail administrators are both important and urgent, this requires the correctional facility to be even more familiar with the right time management techniques. Once these tactics have been mastered, jail administrators will be equipped to confidently organize the chaos.