Time Management for Leaders
// 2018 Jun 14
Do you need more time?
Use these 5 tips to find time for the important things – like coaching
Most managers say that one of the biggest challenges they have is finding the time to do important leadership responsibilities like strategic planning, coaching as well as their own personal development of skills like emotional intelligence and executive presence. You might be interested (and even surprised) to learn these 5 tips that senior managers around the world use to manage their time more effectively.
- Set long-term goals – It sounds simple, but it’s a good idea to write down (or type) your goals for the year. You probably have them in a planning document you prepared for your manager at the beginning of the year but it’s a good idea to dust it off and make the goals the centerpiece of everything you do. This is the most critical part of time management because everything you do every day should relate to these goals. If an activity doesn’t help you achieve your long-term goals, you should consider if it should be done at all.
- Prioritize – It’s impossible to prioritize if you don’t have clearly stated long-term goals because it’s your long-term goals that determine your priorities. Consider using the ABC prioritizing method. Activities that get an “A” are those that are critical to achieving your long-term goals. For example, if your long-term goals include sales, only activities that increase sales should be considered “A” activities. Tasks or activities that are categorized as “B” should be those things that will support or enable you to achieve your long-term goals. For example, training, staff meetings, other meetings are most likely “B” activities since they don’t actually generate sales but they help you to generate sales or be more productive in your role. “C” activities are things that are nice to have. These activities should only be done when all “A” and “B” activities are complete.The ABC prioritization process can be effective only if you avoid the day-to-day pitfalls of critical vs. urgent tasks. A critical task is one that will help you achieve a long-term goal. An urgent task is one that needs immediate attention but doesn’t have an impact on you achieving a long-term goal. This is where managers can lose valuable time. Many times urgent tasks take over the day. While urgent tasks may need to be done, you have to decide whether taking the time to do that task will have any long-term benefit. Sometimes, saying “no” is the best way to handle an urgent task.
- Establish a cadence – Routine is one of the best ways to manage time. For example, it’s a good idea to set realistic expectations for major projects that you can complete each month. If you try to complete three or four projects, you probably won’t be successful. However, if you commit to completing one major project in a month, you will have a high likelihood of succeeding. So, set realistic expectations to set your cadence for each month.It’s also helpful to have a routine for each week. You may find that Monday is your day for internal meetings, Tuesdays are your days for meetings with customers, etc. It’s best to group similar activities together in one day because it creates a routine for you and your team. That makes it easier for you and them to plan your time.
- Delegate it…or let it go – Delegation can be difficult for some managers. Either they feel that they can do the tasks better than their employees or they believe that their employees already have too much to do. In either case, you should first ask yourself if the task really needs to be done. What would happen if it weren’t done for a day or a week? Is it critical to helping you or your employees meet a long-term goal? If not, consider letting it go. Better yet, challenge each of your employees to identify tasks that are not critical to achieving their long-term goals. Inertia has a way of taking time out of everyone’s day. Perhaps if you offer a reward to any employee that identifies a task that doesn’t contribute to long-term goals, you might find some time that can be used for other tasks.
- Plan to plan, coach and grow – Great leaders don’t just happen; they make the time to be great. Planning by developing long-term goals and then aligning and prioritizing tasks to achieve those goals sounds easy, but it’s not. Leadership activities need to be planned as part of every day, week and month. As you are planning your weekly cadence, be protective of the time you plan for leadership activities like coaching and planning. These are as important as meetings but rarely get the time they deserve. As important, plan time for your own personal and professional development. While this may seem impossible to do in your very busy days, consider it one of your long-term goals and truly dedicate time to achieve it. It will make you a more effective manager and leader as well as a more well-rounded professional.
Use these five strategies to ensure that you run the day and not let it run you.
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