Time management – we all talk about it, but how well are we actually doing it?
As a leader or up and coming leader, it is vital that your daily tasks are prioritised to ensure you work efficiently and don’t take on too much work for the time left in your day.
Quite often I see clients take on additional projects, because they think that they are the best person to do them when in fact, they should be delegating. If you become realistic about your “to do” list, you will realise that there needs to come a time when you say enough is enough and stop adding to the list.
As a leader, it’s more important than ever to manage your time wisely, because if you don’t you risk your poor time management flowing onto your team. When your work is out of control, so is theirs.
If you are currently feeling as though you’re drowning, it’s time to stop and consider your options. Don’t be afraid to show your concerns to your team, because they are likely to become part of your solution. Author and Harvard Professor, Rosabeth Moss Kantor said, “Leaders are more powerful role models when they learn than when they teach.” Your experience is an invaluable educational experience for your team, too.
Before you make any time management changes at all, it’s a great idea to work out where you are actually spending your time each day. There’s a difference between being busy and getting the work done. For example, you might be busy on Facebook for an hour each day but does that help you finish your work on hand? Probably not. And how can you be sure how long you spent on Facebook? Time does sneak past quickly…
Take a look at Rescue Time which is a system that runs in the background as you work online. It tracks your usage and will report on how long you spent on the computer, and on which sites. One look at the report might show you where you are losing time each day. That’s a perfect place to start your time management overhaul.
The most effective way to master time-management is to allocate 15 minutes each morning to complete a Time Management Plan for the day. Write and analyse your “to do” list and prioritise each task according to the steps below:
- Write your “to do” list and ensure it is accurate, i.e. include breaks, meetings, other tasks outside the office that need your attention, etc.;
- Allocate a time frame for each of the tasks on your list (be generous with the time to allow for disruptions);
- Now prioritise those tasks that have a definite completion time/date (first to last);
- Within those tasks determine which ones are directly related to the daily function of your role, relate to income for you or your company and are vital to be completed that day. Prioritise these tasks as “Immediate tasks” and list them in order of urgency;
- Of the remaining tasks determine which ones are “Must do”, i.e. these are the tasks that while not immediately required they still hold some level of importance as other people are relying on them to be completed to enable their jobs to flow, etc. Prioritise these in order of urgency and place them under the “Immediate tasks”;
- For any remaining tasks prioritise them in order of urgency/time needed for completion and add them to the bottom of the list.
- Highlight any tasks that can be delegated to someone else for a speedier end time and then delegate accordingly.
The steps above can apply to a written list or online software. There are many options available online for using a web based “to do list” or “time management plan” that will allow you to complete and access your list from any device or browser which in turn creates even more efficiency in your day. Take a look at Wunderlist, HiTask or ToDoist as examples, some of which can be used to manage your team as well as your own time and tasks.
Whichever option works for you, the success of your day to day time management is based on you taking action at the start of your day to ensure you have a clear view of all that needs to be achieved.
Time management is a necessary component of the leader’s skill set. How well do you manage your time?
If you have some tips you’d like to share, we’d love to hear them. Please leave them in the comments below. We’ll be watching for them.