The Management Blog
Tips & advice to help you improve your performance
Being productive is a skill that can drastically change your time management, efficiency and free up your time.
Who wouldn’t want to handle their existing responsibilities smarter and faster?
While our mobile phones and iPads can be unwelcome distractions oftentimes, they can also provide great conveniences for the busy professional.
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I often ask leaders and managers what the biggest challenge they face each week is? The most popular answer I get by far is “I don’t have enough time!”
I have written many blogs on time management before so either these people haven’t read them, the ideas they contained don’t work (as if), or they have read my blogs and many others on time management and not implemented the ideas. Which do you think is the most likely? To be fair I would need to work with each individual to come up with a definitive answer but in my experience it is usually the final one!
Do you waste time planning? Many managers do, because they spend too much time trying to organise things that are un-organisable! What I mean by this is, if you spend time trying to organise other people, you run the risk of that time being wasted because of your inability to control other people.
People don’t want to be managed. This is the oxymoron in the title ‘people manager’. A good definition of a manager is someone who plans, controls, directs and organises. How would you feel if everything you did during the day was planned for you, organised for you, directed for you and you were controlled every step of the way? I can imagine your answer!
So, when you do your daily planning, make sure you focus on things that you can control or, at least, influence. Here are some ideas:
Create a ‘to do’ list and, alongside it, a ‘will do’ list. These lists are your focal points of productivity. Take your ‘to do’ list and write down from it those items you categorically must, must, must get done today, no exception. This will be your ‘will do’ list, and shouldn’t cover more than half your day. That way, you will be able to top up from your ‘to do’ list without having to buy more time. The ‘will dos’ are those things that are crucial to get completed today. And from our experience, not everything on your ‘to do’ list falls into that category.
When you are about to start a task, ask yourself: “Is this the best use of my time right now? Is there a more efficient way of handling this task? Could it be delegated? Or am I the best person to carry this out?”
Work out the hourly rate you are paid by your company. Then ask yourself “Would I be willing to pay someone else that amount to do the hour’s work I’m about to do?” This often brings you to your senses as to the best use of your time.
Look at the next appointments you are about to handle over the next three days. Is it a valuable use of your time to meet with these people? Or would it be more suitable to phone them, conference call with them or email them? Sometimes a meeting is most suitable, but plan that out first to make sure.
Many people make mistakes when they prioritise their tasks. They start off with ‘Priority 1’ then move onto ‘2’, ‘3’, ‘4’ and so on. Let me ask you a question. How seriously and with how much passion do you tackle a ‘Priority 8’ task? Be honest!
Most people take something that’s 8 or below on their list and treat it like it’s not that important and often procrastinate with it. Here’s a simple technique…don’t view your lower-priority tasks with less enthusiasm simply because they are lower on the list. Having completed ‘Priority 1’, treat ‘Priority 2’ as the new ‘Priority 1’ !!!
That way you are taking all your tasks seriously and are less likely to procrastinate. Taking your ‘Priority 8’ seriously means you get a lot more done more effectively and efficiently.
So,don’t attempt to control others’ time…just work on what you can control and you’ll see your personal effectiveness improve dramatically.
As much as you want to believe you’re a super-manager, the truth is that you probably aren’t. Now, don’t take that the wrong way. Most of us, believe it or not, are not stellar when it comes to multi-tasking. The real truth is that it is important to take a look at your performance and really understand whether or not you are part of the 2.5% of society (yea, that’s right – just 2.5%) that can multi-task, or if you are part of the 97.5% of society that really isnt’ very good at it. The latter seems a bit more likely, doesn’t it?
What does this mean to you?
It means most of us really aren’t as good at writing an email while talking on the phone as we think.
It means most of us should not be having conversations on the phone while driving – at all – even though we think we’re in control.
It simply means we shouldn’t attempt to do so many things at the same exact time.
Studies have shown that those who multi-task have lower performance levels when their work is evaluated. Meaning each project is considered average, and sometimes sub-par. People who turn in projects they’ve finished one at a time, or that they worked on in small chunks of time that were not dedicated to anything else, did very well with their work projects.
So what are you going to do with your schedule today? Are you going to sit at your desk and try to plan a meeting, read your emails, and double check a report at the same time? Or are you going to dedicate specific amounts of time to each and leave the others alone?
Remember, you don’t have to finish every project before you move on to the next – but you have to alot dedicated time to it without focusing on anything else. That’s when you’ll get true results.
Every morning I get up and take a look at my to-do list for the day. At the end of the day I look at my list again and I’m either pleased with what I’ve accomplished or disgusted by how much there is left on the list.
Then I realized there was a problem.
You see, the reality of the situation is that I can put as much on my to-do list as I want each day. The problem is that most of us make to-do lists without regard to the amount of time each task might take. In the end, there will always be only 24 hours in a given day – no more, no less.
So, yes – you can set goals. And yes, you can identify your personal “time wasters.” You can even sit down and write out a “time management plan” to help you get your work done at a realistic pace. You might even waste your money on a software program that helps you manage your tasks.
In the end, though, the reality is this – you need to put on your management pants and learn to do two things – prioritise and delegate.
Because, truthfully, those two areas are the real issue. It’s not time management. It’s the thought process that makes us believe we can (or even should) do all of these tasks on our own. You have a team for a reason. Prioritize your tasks, delegate them to the appropriate people, and cross them off of your to-do list.
You’ll suddenly find yourself less stressed and, eventually, you’ll be managing an incredibly effective and productive team.
Quite a few of you are probably relaxing with your friends and family, enjoying the holiday season. I might add that doing so is an excellent time management strategy because it is just as important to take time out for yourself as it is to attack the lingering list of chores you’ve probably made for yourself.
Sadly, not many people make time for themselves and their inability to do so is a huge time management mistake. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about tips for more effectively managing your time but we haven’t focused on some of the mistakes people make. Here are a few to consider.
Can you identify with any of these issues? If so, you may want to work on making some changes in the way you manage your own time in the New Year. Until then, enjoy your time away from the workdesk!
When it comes down to effectively managing your time you’ll find that there are dozens of resources offering tips for how to save time. Most of these resources tell you that you should prioritise your tasks but they don’t really tell you how to prioritise. How do you choose which tasks are more important than others?
A method I’ve found to work very well is to take every task and place it in one of four categories. Each category has a level of importance and it will make it easier for you to determine which ones should take priority over the rest. Here are the four categories:
Can you look at your calendar for the day and place each of the items on your to-do list into one of these categories? If so, you’re well on your way to effectively prioritising your day. Good luck!