You Can’t Control Everything All Of The Time

The key to time management is life management. How you manage your time is how you manage your life. You only have 168 hours in the course of a week – no more – or no less. Today’s manager must do more with less. (The productivity equation will never change. You need to minimize the input and maximize the output.) This is the 3rd blog posting in a series of blogs dedicated in helping you get control over your time and your team’s time. The first posting dealt with Goal Setting and Prioritizing (If You’re On Time – You’re Already Late) – the second dealt with Planning and Scheduling (On Time and On Budget – Managing Team Time). This 3rd posting deals with Interruptions and Meetings.

Interruptions – Get use to it. Interruptions are a fact of life. Experts would have us believe that you are going to be interrupted 6 times an hour – every working hour of the day – especially if you work in an open-office environment. (That’s why you need to add some flex time to your schedule. You know you’re going to be interrupted so you might as well plan for it.) Try this experiment. Keep an Interruption Log for two weeks. Every time you are interrupted by someone or something – write it down in your log. (Who interrupted you, how much time did they rob from you – and what was it about.) Is there a pattern there? Are you being interrupted for things that aren’t part of your job  description or someone besides you could be doing it? (Great opportunity here to delegate) Are you being interrupted by someone who has too much time on their hands? By phone calls or text messages that can be returned later or ignored completely? Once you know where your time is going – you can put a plan together to eliminate or re-direct those interruptions.

Here are a few tips you can try to help reduce the amount of interruptions

  • Close your door when you are working on something that requires your full attention. Put a sign on your door letting everyone know that you don’t want to be disturbed. Once you have finished that task – open your door – but be prepared that someone is going to walk in and interrupt you. You need to have an open door policy but you get to decide when the door is opened.
  • When someone walks into your office – stand up and walk around to the front of your desk. (You are non-verbally telling that person not to sit down and get too comfortable because they won’t be there very long.) Better yet – remove the chairs from the front of your desk all together.
  • If you are going to have a meeting – have it in their office or a neutral location so you can get up and leave when you feel the meeting is over.
  • After the interruption don’t doodle. Get back to what you where working on before you got interrupted. Get back to that “A” item.

Meetings: Intelligence is no substitute for information; Enthusiasm is no substitute for ability; Willingness is no substitute for experience; And a meeting is no substitute for progress! Meetings are the biggest waste of time ever invented by man. Patrick Lencioni wrote a great book on the subject of meetings called “Death by Meeting” which is well worth the read. The first thing I recommend you do is go out a buy a copy of “Robert’s Rules” and teach yourself how to run an effective meeting. It’s helped elected Parliaments and Social Clubs all over the World run effective and productive meetings for centuries and it will do the same for you

  • Consider alternatives to “live” meetings like email or conference calls.
  • Invite those people who only need to be there.
  • Meetings are NOT social gatherings. Have an agenda with time lines and stick to the agenda.
  • Show up on time – prepared to talk on the agenda items. If you are on time – you are already 15 minutes late.
  • Summarize the results of the meeting and make note of the action items and most importantly – who is responsible for following up on those items to make sure they will be completed on time and on budget.
  • If you haven’t been sent an agenda prior to the meeting – don’t go to the meeting.

Next weeks posting will look at Paperwork and Procrastination and give you some timely tips to help you utilize your time more effectively.