As I prepared for a ‘strategic’ time management workshop recently, I wondered what magic bullet the attendees were after. What could they learn that would make a difference?
I wanted these managers to see that their view of time management was their problem - not their workload. I discovered they weren’t focusing on the fundamentals - everything was urgent and important. This meant it was difficult to communicate effectively with their team and had a huge impact on the morale and productivity of their teams and the bottom line.
- The key to successful time management is not some magical diary system or chart. It starts with managing yourself. Lack of preparation will cost your business and your customers. Choose at least three of these tips and put them into effect:
- Plan preparation and creative thinking time in your diary for the long-term jobs, because they need it. The short-term, urgent, tasks will always use up all your time unless you plan to spend it otherwise.
- Manage your emails and calls - don’t let them manage you. Check at planned times. Avoid continuous notification of incoming emails.
- Challenge your tendency to say ‘yes’ without scrutinising the request - find out what the real expectations and needs are.
- Challenge anything that could be wasting time and effort, particularly habitual tasks, meetings and reports where responsibility is inherited or handed down from above.
- Use the ‘urgent-important’ system of assessing activities and deciding priorities.
- Delegate as much as possible to others within the rules of delegation. If you have one, give 25% of your responsibility to your successor. You don’t need to be a manager to delegate.
- If you can’t stop interruptions find somewhere else in the building to work, and if necessary work from home.
- Sharpen up your decision-making. If you can’t decide, then decide how to, (consult, get more information), but don’t just let it sit there.
- Never try to eat an elephant all in one go. Break big tasks down into stages.
- Manage the expectations of others to your availability and their claim on your time.
- Learn to say ‘no’ politely and constructively. Don’t make a rod for your own back.