"There just aren't enough hours in the day". We've all heard the phrase, and it's likely most of us use it from time to time. Truth is, it's a little silly. It's like saying "I wish I had more time" when, in reality, we each have all the time there is.
Of course, we're not going to let a universal truth get in the way of our perception of reality, which includes believing we are overworked, over tasked and overtired and which provides us with the excuse that the demands on our time exceed our ability to get things done. There are those who even say that we're super busy because we want to be or want others to think we are.
If you're a manager, you know all about this. You work in a busy work environment in which you struggle with balancing your primary job responsibilities while dealing with problems in employee relations, budgetary constraints, and the always poorly-timed unexpected event.
Expectations are high and even though you have all the hours available, they're often not enough. If you've been a manager for a significant period, you know that managing your time is an important skill you must develop if you want to succeed in your current position, never mind advance in your career.
So, without further ado, here are five essential time management tips for managers:
1. Busyness Is In The Eye Of The Beholder
So conduct an honest self-appraisal of yourself, your schedule, you daily list of action items. And we mean honest. Just because you come to work early and stay late doesn't necessarily mean you're busy. It just means you're at work. Instead of counting up the hours, take a look at what you're doing during those hours. Chances are you'll discover there are periods of non-productive time that don't need to be. Making better use of those time slots will reduce some of the pressure.
Yes, we know, this seems obvious. However, it's surprising how many people lose sight of the fact that just because something is urgent doesn't mean it's important. Other time management tips won't help you if you're not able to make that distinction.
- Start each day with a game plan. If something absolutely has to get done, make sure you address it first, even attack it. Failure to do so will only increase your stress level as the day goes on because the project/meeting/disciplinary action continues to hang over your head.
- In more general terms, create a daily action plan. Be realistic about it. Overextending yourself will only lead to additional frustration and aggravation.
We've become a society that believes it must always be connected. Social media and email have led to a culture of immediacy. When someone texts, emails or IMs, we reply immediately, not necessarily because we must but because we think we must. Again, urgent doesn't mean important. One of the most effective time management tips you can employ is to simply set aside time when you don't use the internet. Disable your email notifications. Create a second email address for all non-essential communications (newsletters, LinkedIn updates, blogs, etc.).
4. Close Your Door
Advise everyone that a closed door means "Do not disturb". This is also a great way to educate those whom you manage on the "urgent vs. important" distinction.
5. How Do You Eat An Elephant? One Bite At A Time.
Approach your day in the same way. Break it down into manageable chunks. And then apply these and other time management tips to those chunks as well.