342 50 Training Activities for Administrative, Secretarial, and Support Staff
Activity 35 (continued)
1. Familiarize yourself with the contents of Trainer’s Notes 35-1, Handouts 35-1
and 35-2, and Worksheet 35-1.
2. Photocopy Handouts 35-1 and 35-2 and Worksheet 35-1 for each participant.
1. Open the activity by asking participants if (when they are at work) they ever feel
like the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. Remind them that he was
always looking at his watch, saying “Oh dear, oh dear, I’m late, I’m late!” and
appeared nervous and frightened about what the Queen of Hearts would do or
say to him!
The purpose of this question is to start a brief discussion on the topic of stress
related to lack of organization, the inability to say “no,” and/or too much work.
During the discussion, emphasize the following points to the participants:
• We often feel stressed because we are disorganized and are afraid we
might forget what we have promised to do.
• If we can’t “see the forest for the trees,” we often end up doing the urgent
trivial tasks rather than the important, consequential work.
At this point, it may also be helpful to discuss the Pareto principle: Vilfredo
Pareto, an Italian economist, was the originator of what is now known as the
80/20 rule. In other words, 20 percent of our time is spent doing things that
account for 80 percent of the results, and 80 percent of the time is spent doing
things that account for 20 percent of the results.
Point out that it would obviously be more effective to spend more than 20 per-
cent of our time on tasks that contribute directly to results and organizational
achievement. This means restricting the time we spend on urgent trivial tasks
and increasing the amount of time we spend on important tasks. Stress the fol-
• As jobs evolve and we take on more responsibility, we can feel swamped.
Sometimes this is because we have previously not needed to be very
structured, so we do not have the necessary planning tools in place.
• Many of us, because we are helpful by nature, find it hard to say “no” to
requests for help, and this can be detrimental to our own responsibilities.
(Activity 34 deals with this issue.)