Manager's Tips and Tools

by Manager Development Services

Time Management Skills

Many managers and most employees have difficulty at best using their time efficiently and effectively.  In fact, this is probably the most important cost factor in doing business.  The amount of man-hours wasted by each and every individual on a yearly basis could easily pay off the national debt.  The frustrating thing about this waste is that most of it isn’t due to negligence or laziness.  It’s caused simply by misuse of time.  Repetition, duplication, poor planning, confusion, interruptions and distractions eat up half of some people’s workday.

Simple time management should be part of every individual’s ongoing training.  Here are some simple techniques to help anyone stay on track and save time.

1)  Ten minutes of planning saves a day of confusion. It’s often difficult when I’m really busy to stop and take a few minutes to just organize and plan what I’m going to do.  I feel like if I take this ten or fifteen minutes out, I will get even further behind.  In reality, if I don’t stop and take the time, I end up jumping back and forth from one thing to another, having to go back and redo things, and wasting much more time in the process.

Just organizing what needs to be done helps reduce needless repetition.  Planning the most efficient way of carrying out what needs to be done ensures a greater probability of success.  Organize in a way that makes sense to, and is easiest for, you.  One person’s planning book may be clumsy for another.  I find my desk blotter calendar very helpful.  One glance and I see a whole month of appointments, meetings, and tasks.  I also find my email calendar reminder helpful for reminding me before an important event.

It’s important to find what works for you.  Whether you use a planner, notepad, calendar, or email, organizing and planning saves time and sanity.

2)  Prioritize tasks. Decide what tasks will produce the most results and are the most important, and then concentrate your efforts on them.  Pay particular attention to “time sensitive” tasks and those with a deadline.  Whether you make a list, use numbers, or colors, follow in sequence to avoid jumping back and forth.  One tendency is to take care of the quickest or easiest tasks first.  This only prolongs the important and the necessary until they become overwhelming.

3)   Deal with the urgent. The urgent often become emergencies when left unattended.  Get them out of the way so they’re not “hovering over your head.”

4)   Delegate. Don’t bog yourself down with menial, time-consuming tasks, which could easily be done by someone who has the time.

5)  Goals give direction. Goals allow you to stay focused on your objective.  They help you stay on track and identify wastefulness.  As mentioned earlier, a viable goal must be desirable, realistic, perceptible, precise, and measurable.

6)  Perpetual “To Do” list. This is basically a priority list in which tasks are crossed off, others moved to the top, and still others added in order of urgency or importance.  This list becomes a living, breathing tool.

7)  Don’t obsess on perfection. Each task must be done right and be effective.  But no task can be done perfectly.  Don’t waste time obsessing over a task which is already right and effective.  A perfectionist can waste all day tweaking something which is already good while other tasks suffer.

8)  Don’t bite off more than you can chew. When faced with a large project or task, don’t attempt to accomplish it all at once.  Steady is much more effective than fast.  Do a little each day.  Chip away at it methodically and even the overwhelming becomes doable.

9)  Beware of procrastination. It’s all too easy when faced with what may seem like an overwhelming task to want to put it off for the present.  Thoughts like; not having enough time to complete it now, I’ll just get these few other things out of the way first, and I’m tired now, I need to wait until I’m fresher will get a task put off over and over again until I really don’t have the time to finish it.

10)  Figure in time interruptions and distractions. If you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans.  Understand that there will be interruptions.  Allow a certain amount of time for interruptions and distractions as well as a block of time for priorities.  Realize that the world made need you, but it won’t stop if it doesn’t get you.  If possible, set periods during the day when you are not allowed to be disturbed unless the building is falling or on fire.  I personally call this my “priority block.”  People will get use to coming to you either before or after this priority block of time.

11)  “No!” is a complete sentence. It’s alright to say, “No!” to the unimportant.  In fact as we have already discussed, we have a right to say no and not have to justify it to anyone.  Be willing to tell others “no” during the block of time when you’re not allowed to be disturbed.  Don’t worry; they’ll be back if it’s really important.

12)  Utilize your best time of day. Some of us are morning people and some are afternoon or night people.  If it takes me till mid-morning to really get cooking, then I will want to set my “priority block” of time during this period when I am at my best.

13)  Give yourself a little credit. Don’t be so hard on yourself.  Reward yourself when a task or job in accomplished.  Remember that we must have balance in our lives if we are to be human beings instead of human doings.

– excerpt from “Managing from the Heart – A Way of Life”


September 29, 2011 - Posted by | Counseling Techniques, Leadership Skills, Manager Development Tools, Mentoring, Personal Development | , , , , , , ,

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