This is the sixth post in a series of seven blogs posts on Leadership - leadership ideas, techniques, skills and methods as conservation-starters for you and your supervisory personnel.
Time management is a big challenge for many people, as many of us find ourselves easily distracted. In this multi-tasking age, how do we focus on the project at hand? I have found that when I try to multitask, I am really not performing any task particularly well. Allowing distractions such as co-workers stopping by my desk to chat is a time killer. Checking email is also a common attention-stealer.
Do you as a leader have good time management skills? One skill I practice is to check my emails at the beginning of the day, at lunch, and right before I leave the office.
Do your employees know their most productive time(s) of day? My most productive time is in the morning. I carve out time between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. to get an important project completed. From 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., I make phone calls, schedule appointments, respond to requests, etc. I get my second wind around 3:30 or 4:00 p.m. and I’m quite productive into the early evening.
This may be better explained in the www.mindtools.com section on Time Management Skills and The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 Rule: “Many people spend their days in a frenzy of activity, but achieve very little because they are not concentrating on the right things…The 80/20 Rule…argues that typically 80% of unfocussed effort generates only 20% of results. The remaining 80% of results are achieved with only 20% of the effort.”
Try to focus on the task at hand, and look toward the outcome in mind – completion of the project. Make a list of what to accomplish that day, and focus on marking off those items! Celebrate the completion of each task! Another helpful tip I've heard is to evaluate where you are in the middle of the day, and determine if you are still on track. Make any adjustments necessary at that time to accomplish the day’s goals. Keep telling yourself: Focus, focus, focus!
What is your best time management tool/skill/technique? Do you set daily goals? How do you prioritize?
It seems that most days, if there were 27 hours, it just wouldn’t be enough. Like many other leaders and professionals, I am forced to prioritize and drive the best use of each minute during the workday. I am a list maker by nature and I find that I am able to best organize and prioritize my thoughts and projects when I see them on paper. At times, that can be flipping open a fresh page in my notebook and mind-dumping, or creating a masterpiece of post it notes around my office. A best practice that I find effective is making an end of day list of critical items that I need to accomplish the next day. This allows me to both leave work with a clear mind and be immediately productive in the morning.
As my responsibility has grown over the last few years, I’ve been faced with new time management challenges and sought the advice of a couple Westfield leaders who demonstrate true best practices in time management. Their advice to me was focused on management of my work calendar. I was advised to build working time into every day, time for reflection/strategy and desk time when I’m available to support my team members. Building the white space into the day is one piece of the puzzle and sticking to it is another. They advised me to review my schedule regularly and make sure that all the meetings and time I’ve committed to is aligned with my goals for the day and week.
My electronic calendar serves as my primary time management tool. Having the mobility of this calendar on my Blackberry™ is also something I find critical to my day. I utilize the calendar to keep my schedule straight, to immediately block necessary time when I’m on the go, and to set reminders for time-sensitive tasks. This technique has translated into my personal life as my husband and I utilize the calendar to schedule time when child care is needed, work schedules change, family obligations arise and even date night! By “inviting” each other via calendar entry, our commitments show up on both of our calendars, it eliminates overbooking and helps us plan accordingly.
Ultimately you must choose a time management method that complements your personality and one you can stick with long term. Be realistic. The techniques you adopt must be second nature to be successful.
Corporate Event Planning Leader
Time Management Skills (link to http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_00.htm )
11 Solid Ways to Improve Your Time Management Skills (link to http://www.dumblittleman.com/2008/02/11-solid-ways-to-improve-your-time.html )
Managing Your Time (link to http://www.dartmouth.edu/~acskills/success/time.html )
Photo courtesy of Leadershipvibe.net
Suzanne Coleman is a senior risk control representative out of the Nashville office of Westfield Insurance. She has worked in the insurance industry for 20 years.