The key to time management is life management. How you manage your time is how you manage your life. We all start out with 168 hours in the course of a week. No more – or no less. As a manager – you need to manage your time and your teams time. You need to learn how to do more with less. This is my fourth and last blog posting dedicated to giving you some valuable insights into how to manage your time and your teams time more effectively. Over the last 3 postings we’ve discussed goal setting, prioritizing, planning, scheduling, handling interruptions and meetings. This week we’ll look at concurring procrastination and ways to help you manage your teams time more effectively.
We all procrastinate to some degree or another. We all have a tendency to put off doing those things that we don’t like to do – or those things that we aren’t good at doing. We put it off hoping that they’ll take care of themselves or go away and disappear all together. Working on the things that you like to do – instead of working on the things that need to be done – is procrastination dressed up in a different set of clothes but it’s procrastination none the less. You need to be disciplined enough to do what needs to be done – when it needs to be done by – or learn to delegate it and let someone else do it.
- Let your priority list motivate you to tackle what needs to be done. Remember that the 45 pound monkey will turn into a 900 pound gorilla if you ignore it long enough.
- Don’t wait for perfect. Nothing ever comes off exactly as planned. Some risk is unavoidable. You’re not paid to be perfect – you’re paid to get results.
- There are only two rules for achieving anything – (1) Get started – and – (2) Keep going. (Any direction is a good direction as long as it is moving you forward)
- Develop a “Can-Do” attitude. You can do anything that you set your mind too. The only person getting in your way – is You!
- Promise yourself a reward. Grading assignments and exams is not one of my favorite things to do. (Even being a College Professor has a down side) I have a tendency to procrastinate and put it off – so I’ve learned to tackle them in small bites. I divide up the papers or assignments to be graded in small stacks of 5. I sit down – grade my 5 papers or assignments and then reward myself by getting up to get a coffee – quickly check my emails or look something up on Google. And then back to my pile to do the next 5 and so on until all of the assignments or exams have been graded.
- Create a “Teachable Moment” and delegate it.
- Commit yourself to take action. Set deadlines and make it an “A” item.
- Tackle things in 90 minute spurts. Work on something for 90 minutes – take a 10 minute break and then get back at it for another 90 minutes, etc. until the task is complete. I used this technique to write my book – “Confessions of a Reformed Control Freak – The Top Ten Sins Most Managers Make & How to Avoid Them”. The short 10 minute break is a great way to re-energize yourself.
No one works in a vacuum, and no one accomplishes a great deal on their own. Managers not only have to be concerned about how they manage their time – but they also need to be concerned with how they manage their team’s time. (The productivity equation will never change. You need to minimize the input to maximize the output. You need to ensure everyone on your team is on the same page – rowing in the same direction.)
Team time management requires an entirely different approach to time management. If you aren’t organized and prepared – your team won’t be either. As the manager you set the tone – you set the pace. Good team time management requires everyone on your team to respect their time – but more importantly – respect other people’s time when working on group projects, sitting on committees or attending meetings or huddles at the beginning of their shift.
- Show everyone else on your team that you respect them and their time by arriving early and being prepared.
- Don’t send emails to everyone on your list. Send emails to people on a need-to-know basis. (FYI – not everyone cares) But be sure that everyone who needs to know is on your list.
- Make an agenda before calling or meeting anyone.
- Write down what points you want to discuss before making that phone call.
- Lead by example. Develop the “On Time” and “On Budget” habit. Deliver what you promise on time. How many people are you keeping waiting?
- Give people plenty of advanced notice. You shouldn’t spring something on them at the very last-minute. Don’t let your poor planning become their problem.
- Take time to become a good listener. Ask questions for clarity.
- Don’t wait for others to take the first step. Take initiative – assume that everything depends on you to get things going.
- Take the time to give complete instructions. Be clear on what needs to be accomplished, how long it should take them to accomplish it and give people the opportunity to ask questions. Make sure they have all the “tools” they’ll need to complete the task.
- Before you leave at the end of your day make sure everyone on your team has a list of tasks you’d like them to complete while you are gone. (Hint – If you come back and they have completed everything on their list – then their list wasn’t long enough.)
- People have a tendency to fill up their time based on the amount of work they have to get done. (It doesn’t take much to stretch a 20 minute task into 60 if you don’t have anything else that needs to get done.)
If you’ve enjoyed this series of blogs on how to manage your time and your teams time more effectively let me know. Better yet – spread the word – and share this with at least one more person. What new habit are you going to start working on?