Multi-Tasking to Get the Job Done (Part 1)


(Image credit: Alissa Ausmann)

“A laundry/linen manager’s ‘to-do’ list is seemingly never-ending. How can busy laundry/linen managers keep track of the tasks they have to accomplish in a day, and what tools can help them?”

Long-Term Care Laundry: Brian Barfoot, St. Francis Health Center, Topeka, Kan.:

As I think about the daily activities I’ve faced during my experience as a manager of laundry/linen, I’ve come up with 11 tasks that need daily attention:

  1. Managing supervisors.
  2. Ensuring supervisors are managing their staff.
  3. Linen purchasing budget control.
  4. Laundry equipment budget control.
  5. Linen supply budget control.
  6. Linen inventory compliance.
  7. Infection control compliance.
  8. Par level compliance.
  9. Linen reject/discard inspections.
  10. Linen utilization committee management.
  11. Nurse/key contact relationships and meetings.

Let’s not forget to include the numerous interruptions to our day that can be difficult to quantify and that can extend what is already a very long workday.

There are numerous time management tools, programs and training opportunities available that are worth the expense and time to invest in. Finding what works for you is the key.

I developed a very simple, and for me, effective tool—my daily calendar. I load it up with appointments and tasks and keep it with me throughout the day. It’s one document and one reference that guides me through a very busy day.  

Equipment Manufacturing: Gary Ostrum, G.A. Braun, Syracuse, N.Y.:

As a person who gets ribbed by colleagues and associates for still utilizing my trusty Day-Timer binder and pen in today’s world, this may be a “do as I say, not as I do” type of article, but let’s give it a whirl.

Maintain existing processes and programs. In my mind, this item is where many of us fall short. We put forth a great effort with our team to establish a viable program or process that benefits our operation, and then a year or two later, we are back where we started only because we failed to maintain the program. Whether in a safety, production, staff or management meeting, the objectives of such must be clear and the meetings held without fail. It is frustrating to have to take time to re-establish a program or process knowing that it would have been much easier and a greater benefit to one’s operation just to maintain it.

Measure everything and have a bar set for every measurement. Obviously, this data should be utilized in the maintenance of one’s programs and processes. The “laundry list” is endless—fill rates, rewash percentages, pounds per operator hour, pieces per operator hour, equipment downtime, sick days, tardiness, employee injuries, etc. The key thing is to have a process for reviewing all of one’s measurables—having the bar set to identify red-flag conditions and then a formal process of implementing an action plan to get the specific condition back on track.

As far as tools to help with these two items, I have found the Outlook e-mail program to be an indispensable tool in management of my tasks. From being able to schedule program/process meetings out as far in the future as I like, to giving myself daily reminders of tasks and obligations, Outlook has become something I use each and every day. My first statement noted my use of a manual-type personal work calendar as well, and for me the two work well together.

Years ago, the time and effort it took to collect the data for everything one wanted to measure in their operation was probably the biggest obstacle in actually doing so. Today, employee time management starts when team members swipe their fingerprints into work, and route management takes place proactively, as one can now monitor an entire fleet in real time. The tools available for today’s managers to accomplish tasks and objectives are immensely powerful.

This creates the condition we all now face: The ability to do more each day comes with an expectation that more will be done. While the tools of today can allow us to accomplish more, my initial points become even more important. Nothing hinders our ability to move forward more than having to go back to the start of something again. So the old adages of “measure twice, cut once,” or “change the oil now instead of the engine later” apply more than ever.

Hotel/Motel/Resort Laundry: James Brewster, RLLD, The Resort at Glade Springs, Daniels, W.Va.:

A manager’s duties are never-ending, but there are ways to keep on track and keep things running smoothly.

One thing that I do is plan. Without a plan, nothing can be accomplished in a unified way. Make a list of things to do for the next day before leaving the evening before, so you have an idea of what will transpire the following day.

Next, set the plan into motion, delegate what needs to be delegated and let your staff handle accordingly. If you surround yourself with successful teammates, then you will be successful. Have them check in periodically throughout the day and then you can plan for some other things on the fly and possibly take care of an additional task.

The last thing to do is follow up. How many times have we heard that one? It is very important to follow up, whether it be with your associates, customers or vendors. You can gather constructive feedback and plan again for following up on that as well. To me, planning is one of the most essential functions of any manager or supervisor.

You can use various tools to help keep track of your operation, such as sign-in and sign-out sheets for time clock purposes and drivers’ logs for their drop-off and pick-up points, as well as times they stop and go. Excel spreadsheets are one of my favorite tools—there is so much you can do with them, and they make information easier to read and understand.

For the production side, you can use forms that track pieces and input on a data sheet for tracking and trends. Your equipment manufacturer may have counters and scales that can track production and give you snapshots throughout the day to see how production is going.

Everyone has his or her own way of managing, but these are just a few that I use to make my life and duties easier.

Check back tomorrow for the conclusion!


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