Managing Performance / Setting Goals

What New Managers Should Know About Managing Their Time

Andrew Rondeau asked:


For some people it doesn’t seem to matter how long their day is. They just never seem to have enough time. The clock is ticking and it’s ticking too fast for comfort. It feels like they have a million things to do, a couple thousand of which were actually due last week and every new task is urgent and can’t wait…

Sounds familiar? Well if it does, you might be one of those people who just don’t have a very good relationship with time. It is often a sign that you’re not in control of your own day-planner. You may have some things on your to do list that you set out to accomplish, but anything and everything that you come across interferes with your plans. Someone or something else seems to be claiming your time to the extent that you never seem to get anything done. You might be asking yourself: “How can I possibly get everything done?” Good question. The answer is very simple: “You can’t and you shouldn’t want to”.

Wanting to get everything done is probably the main reason why so many people are short on time. They’re trying to do too many things and fail to realise that there are only so many tasks that one person can accomplish in a day. Instead of focusing on getting everything done, focus on those things that really need to get done. Separating what’s important from what’s not important will help you prioritise your tasks. In addition, once you’ve done this, just remember that priorities are in order. That means that when you’re working on something with a high priority it is okay to turn down someone asking you to do something that has a lower priority. Learning to say “no” is a huge time-saver. Of course, you can also say “no” to yourself when you find yourself tempted to interrupt your work for another task that pops up. You will find that if you focus on the most important task that needs to get done during the day, the major things, you will probably have enough time left to fit in some of the minor things.

Time is an area where we can be absolutely sure that everyone is treated equally. No matter where you’re from or what your background is, everybody has the same amount of hours in a day. The difference is in how we choose to spend those hours. And that is why some people are considered miracle workers while others never get anything accomplished. Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the business consultant giving this simple piece of advice to one of his clients. His client was a CEO of a large corporation who felt he and his management team wasn’t performing to their best abilities. They just didn’t seem to get the work done. The consultant listened intently for a while and then gave the following advice:

“Every night before your head hits the pillow, take a piece of paper and write down the six most important tasks you must accomplish the next day. Write them down in the order of importance. Then the next day, it at all possible, start on the first task and don’t move on to the next task until the first has been finished. This may not always be possible because sometimes the most important thing can be something that comes up later during the day. For instance your most important task may be a certain presentation that is scheduled to take place somewhere late in the afternoon. In that case, you would move on to point number two. You wouldn’t want to be sitting idle all day, right?”

When the client asked for the price of this advice, he was told to simply put in into practice and then determine the value himself. After a certain period of time had past the client wired an amount of $25,000 to the business consultant. Apparently, this little piece of advice had worked out quite well for him and the members of his management team. Do this for a while and you will see your effectiveness soar. A great side effect is that people around you are bound to see it too.

Some pointers that may help you in this direction:

Become more efficient in your communication. This means: on the phone, in emails or letters, and of course in face-to-face conversations. A lot of time spent in communication is very inefficient. This is especially wasteful because you’re not just wasting your own time but also somebody else’s.

Touch everything only once. This can be a really great time-saver. Every piece of information should preferably pass through your hands only once. This goes for mail, email, but also things like certain websites, articles, newspapers and other sources of information.

In order to do this successfully you will need to learn how to take decisions quickly. Some decisions just aren’t worth too much of your valuable time. The ability to take decisions is the key to becoming successful anyway. So why wouldn’t you want to speed that process up a little. The ability to take decisions quickly, especially minor ones, will free up a lot of time that can be spent on things that are more important. Aside from that, it increases self-confidence, which will help you when making decisions on issues that are more important.


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