Part of being a successful manager is to know how to manage your time, as the demands on your time will increase. You can be sure that just when you are at your busiest, a 2-hour meeting is scheduled, or you might be ready to work on a process and realize you need to join a conference call. These types of conflicting duties will happen, and quite often.
You need larger blocks of time so you can concentrate on writing the process, meet with you staff without feeling rushed, or attend the conference call and give your full attention. You can’t expect to write a process that will take a couple of hours, if not days, and expect to do it in 10-minute increments. It will drive you crazy and you will lose focus.
Here are 15 ways that can help you manage your time and make the most of your day:
1. Start your day off right. Arrive a little early to work, get your coffee or tea, get into your office and immediately:
By implementing these tasks, which should take around 30 minutes, you will already be starting the day with the right focus. This can be considered your quiet time to get yourself settled. It will also reduce stress and clear your mind so you can be ready for the day ahead.
2. Set clear expectations of the goals. This helps in time management due to everyone, including you, knows exactly what needs to be done. This way, you do not waste time always trying to establish what needs to be done.
3. When you are holding a meeting, stick to the agenda. Try not to go over the allotted time. You not only hold up other people, you’re interfering with your own time management.
4. Delegating helps time management the most. The more you delegate, the less interruptions and multitasking worries.
5. Give members of your team more responsibility. For example, if you have a member of your team represent your department at a meeting, you will have just given yourself some more time. You will also be showing confidence in your employees, which will increase morale. Don’t make a habit out of it, just do this every now and then.
6. Make sure your previous responsibilities have been 100% taken over. For example, if you have just been promoted, you should not have to worry about what you used to do. You have enough on your plate, let alone getting calls throughout the day asking questions on old responsibilities. You can help out for the first couple of weeks, but then you have to let go.
7. Even though you have an open door policy… If you feel a one-on-one meeting might go on for some time, state that you really want to continue the discussion and in order to give your full undivided attention, you would like to schedule another meeting to further discuss.
8. Whenever possible, start and finish a project or task in one session. You can immediately erase it from your list and have a sense of accomplishment. The more half-open projects you have going on at once, the more haphazardly the approach, along with additional stress.
9. Read over reports and important materials while away from the office. Do this during your lunch break, in a cab, in the waiting room, and especially when traveling by plane or train. You can get in a lot of good study time during these “away from the office” periods. Also, some of your best ideas might come to mind when you are away from the office. That is why it is always good to have a pen and paper ready to use at any moment.
10. Organize your computer files and folders. A lot of time is wasted looking for files, not to mention it adds stress. Take the time to put the right file in the right folder and keep it that way. Also clean up your desktop from both your computer and physical desk. A clear desk helps in creating a clear and focused mind.
11. Keep a pen and paper near your bed. You will find that many ideas and solutions come to you right before bed, and sometimes even in the middle of the night. Write down these ideas and go back to sleep. You will not regret it. There might even be times when you can send out an e-mail in the middle of the night. Not only will it be effective, it will show people just how much you care and are willing to do to run an efficient department. They will notice the time the e-mail was sent… This will help manage your time because you will start the day off with a true focus. Your mind will be clear and will end up saving you precious minutes, if not hours, in the office.
12. Again, as stated in multitasking, work smarter, not harder. Find ways to reduce time when working on a project. For example, if you are creating a flow chart using a word processing application instead of a program like Visio, it will take much longer to complete, not to mention it wont look as good. Try to utilize the best tools for the job such as using Outlook to schedule your time, not just for the day, but also for the week.
13. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to your boss. When you have enough on your plate as it is, sometimes the best thing to do is just say no. Don’t state it in a defiant way, just let your boss know about your current projects and if you were to take on a new request, it would put you behind. If this request is a priority, then by all means do it. If all of your workload is priority one, maybe this request can go to someone else without it looking as though you did not want to help.
14. Politely let a friend or family member know you will get back to them as soon as possible. Unless it is important, don’t take time away from an important task on a non-work related issue. They will understand and even respect you, just make sure you do it in a polite way and truly get back to them when you can.
15. “Under promise and over deliver.” Although this has already been stated, it is important enough to state it again. You can manage your time much better if upper management is not waiting on a project that you promised, but could not keep.
Always look at ways to utilize your time more effectively. Try to eliminate waste whenever possible. Examples of wasted time would be time spent procrastinating, web surfing, or too much socializing. If you find yourself taking a lot of time on the same type of task daily, there might be a chance you can delegate, work smarter, or even eliminate the task (e.g. does the statistic that takes an hour to formulate really matter?).
Time managing a project can vary. Project management can be as simple as putting the tasks in order to prepare for a release of a new product, or as complicated as the construction of a 20 story building. If for example you have a project to get your staff trained on a new product, you first need to:
· Determine what needs to be trained.
· Determine when the training should take place.
· Determine where the training should take place.
· Determine how long the training should last.
· Determine the amount of people who need to take the training.
· Determine how many people you can afford to take the training without losing production.
· Determine how many people can be trained without affecting the customer’s immediate needs.
· Determine the cost of the training and materials.
True Project Management, such as construction work, is another course in itself. However, the basics for all projects are the same: Resources, Time and Money. We will discuss some of the basic tools to use for managing a project in lesson 9.