Time Management, The Illusive Goal
Wouldn’t it be nice to know that time management was actually possible? Do you wish you could get more done at the office?
Unfortunately, despite all attempts otherwise, none of us can manage Time; that is the reality. It continues to tick away – 24 hours in each day, 60 minutes in each hour and 60 seconds in each minute – each and every day of the year. We can, however, manage ourselves. We can manage ourselves to do more with the time we have available. Manage your behaviour around getting things done, and time will seem way more friendly – almost like you did manage it. Here are 5 steps to get help you out.
Step 1 – Commit to Behaviour Change as a Time Management Strategy
Start by committing to managing yourself in order to get time management under control. Set the intention to become more productive with your time. With a commitment to your own behaviour change, time management becomes less illusive. Make a pact with yourself to take responsibility for doing more in less time. While time is not to blame for what you can’t get done, only you have control over what you CAN get done. So take back control.
This is the toughest step. Get firmly planted in this direction, and the rest will seem much easier.
Step 2 – Identify Your Top Priorities and Tasks for each Day, Week, Month and Year
You likely already have annual priorities identified as part of your annual planning, goals, performance objectives or other performance measurement or company planning strategy. Are you an entrepreneur? Have you got your business objectives lined up for the year/quarter/month/week? Great. Now turn them into goals for the month, week and day. What do you need to get done by the end of the day, week, month, and then the quarter, to accomplish your annual goals? The priority tasks for today will feed into your priority goals for this week. The same is true for the month. By the end of this week, are you a quarter of your way to your priorities for the month? What has to be finished to get there?
Daily tasks are the key to keeping the productivity up. Keep your daily priority tasks simple and short. Now write them down. Start with a verb to direct your action. Rather than writing “Managers’ Report” write “Collect data, analyze and write Managers’ Report”. Writing down goals helps set the intention and for many of us, helps lodge those goals into our brains to help keep us focused and pointing in the right direction.
Step 3 – Book Time in your Calendar to accomplish the Tasks
Each task takes a certain amount of time. Estimate this to the best of your ability and book the time to accomplish the task into your calendar.
There’s a funny thing about tasks we want/need/should get done, especially some of the tougher ones. If we don’t book time and protect that time, everything else, on everyone else’s priority list, has the opportunity to get
Step 4 – Commit to the Time Scheduled – and Let Everyone Know
Your time is committed; tell the people around you. Close your door. Ask not to be disturbed. Put your phone on silent. Turn off your email alerts. Turn off all your alerts except for any related to risk management that require you to drop everything and respond (are you on the Code Blue Team?). This often takes some practice. With time, however, people will come to understand that you commit to your time and expect them to respect that. And they will love that you get stuff done. Your boss knows that managing these boundaries helps you to get stuff done for her/him. Reports are on time. Your staff recognize that you get stuff done for them. Schedules are on time. You approve vacation requests quickly.
Step 5 – Commit to Running Productive Meetings
You’ve got a meeting to run? Set an Agenda. Send it out ahead of time. Be clear on what you are trying to accomplish. Remember, other people struggle with time management as well. When you are clear on the agenda, people you meet with are grateful. Stick to it your agenda. Finish the meeting just as soon as the agenda is accomplished. While we are all interested in someone else’s successes, their celebrations and someone else’s venting their frustrations, if all that isn’t on your agenda, it will have to wait for some other time. You run a focused and productive meeting.
With a commitment to managing yourself, identified priorities, time booked for your key tasks, protection of your time and productive meetings, time management at the office is no longer illusive. At least it will feel like you managed time.