Of all the challenges we hear managers facing these days, the aspect of being able to manage their own time is very often top of the list. It’s not because we have less time; it’s that the demands on us these days are so great, we have difficulty in identifying the best use of our time, and often submit to the ‘busy’ rather than the ‘effective’.
Of course, the best way to determine where your time is going is to record what’s happening each day. If you find some of these problems are affecting your day-to-day management of your time, think of what could be done to overcome them. Here are some suggestions:
* Work Piling Up – You need to set priorities, and determine the difference between urgent and important. How many times have you gone home from work and realised you’ve been really busy, but not actually accomplished very much? That shows you’ve been working on the urgent at the expense of the important. Set yourself realistic deadlines and see if you can keep to them. And delegate more often!
* Trying to do too much – As stated before, you must set priorities. If it’s impossible to get everything done, ask which deadlines could be changed. Learn to say no, because if you take on more work, everything else will suffer, especially your stress levels.
* Procrastination – Break tasks down into manageable chunks. Approach it from a different angle. If the task will take 3 hours, do 20 minutes now, 30 minutes later, and so on. You need to control it, rather than it controlling you.
* People interrupting you – Make appointments and ask people to stick to them. If people just drop in, tell them you will get back to them when you can give them 100% attention.
* Phone calls interrupting you – Tell them you will call them back. Use voicemail, if practical. Batch phone calls you need to make all together, so you control the timings.
* Too many emails – Divide them into ‘act now, act later’. Have a special file to put the mails you will be dealing with later. Don’t let you inbox pile up, and try not to use it as your ‘pending’ file. Things will drop out of your view and you will forget them. Create rules for emails coming in. Try not to keep your email server open all the time; emails will rule your time. Devote specific times of the day that you control to deal with emails.
* Too many meetings – Ah, the bugbear of many managers! Review all the meetings you attend and eliminate any that are unnecessary. Set limits to the time meetings take and stick to them. Have an agenda and stick to it. Be prepared for each meeting and identify how you can add value to them.
Naturally, there are many other time management situations you will have to deal with, but if you have the correct mindset to how you view time, you will concentrate on the solutions rather than the problems lack of time causes you.
Mark Williams is a learning and development professional, using business psychology and multiple intelligences to create fascinating and quickly-identifiable learning initiatives in the real-world business setting. Mark’s role at MTD is to ensure that our training is leading edge, and works closely with our trainers to develop the best learning experiences for all people on learning programmes. Mark designs and delivers training programmes for businesses both small and large and strives to ensure that MTD’s clients are receiving the very best training, support and services that will really make a difference to their business.