Time management is a skill that can elude many managers. As a manager you’re responsible for your own time and how those you supervise spend theirs. Finding time to accomplish everything that needs to be done sometimes may seem impossible.
But some simple shifts in thinking can help you get a handle on your time and use it more productively. Practicing the following techniques can help you begin mastering the elusive skill of time management.
Five Smart Tips for Time Management
1. Organize Your To-Do List
Get your to-dos on paper. Keep a notepad or note-taking application handy to jot down everything you have to do as each occurs to you. Then, organize your to-dos by type and use a different paper or digital folder for each such as “follow up on” or “people to contact” or “to read”. Finally, schedule it. Put each item on your calendar. Commit the right amount of time on a specific day to each task and you’ll actually be able to check them off. Just make sure you’re not making lists instead of tackling other responsibilities.
2. Attack One Type of Action at a Time
Flitting from making phone calls, to writing proposals, to answering emails is less than productive. Each type of action requires your brain to switch gears, stop, then start again on the new task. Try completing the same types of tasks before moving to the next. Make your phone calls, then answer emails, then write proposals. You’ll likely save time and increase your productivity.
3. Eliminate Distractions
You probably won’t be able to eliminate all interruptions. People still need your time and attention through the day and you have to respond to a crisis or unexpected need for an immediate decision. But you can “train” others to give you the time you need to get your work done. Don’t hesitate to block out time not to be disturbed. Let your phone go to voice mail. Turn off your email notification and instant messaging. And unless you need to be on social media for your job, schedule a short block of time for social networks – and stay off them otherwise.
4. Plan For – and Take – Breaks
It’s important to relax throughout your day. You’ll actually return recharged and more productive. Why not let that block of social media time become one of the day’s scheduled breaks? And be flexible: you don’t need to handle each new task as it comes in. Save up several routine, non-deadline-driven items to tackle all at once and you’ll have more time to accomplish the big things.
It’s easy to let communication slide when you’re focusing on time management. But don’t forget to check in with others. Get in the habit of asking yourself if whatever you’re doing is the best use of your time. If not – shift to something else. Start recording your thoughts, conversations and activities so you can get an idea of exactly how much of your day you spend on each. Schedule time to communicate with others on high-priority tasks and projects.
It Is Possible to Learn Effective Time Management
As a manager you may face a heavier workload than ever with responsibilities increasing and deadlines growing shorter. It may seem working overtime is the only way to get everything done.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Getting the business management skills you need to be successful is a big part of being professional and effective. Education can provide the training and knowledge to manage time and other challenges more efficiently, decreasing your anxiety, fear of failure and stress. You can manage your time, become more productive and have more time away from work. It just takes a commitment to learning.