Your boss walks into your office and asks “are you busy?” If you answer no, they may wonder why not and if you answer yes, it may appear you don’t have time for them. And it doesn’t have to be your boss who interrupts your very well planned, structured, time efficient day. This is a very common dilemma for many Managers and Leaders today – open plan offices invite people to stop at your desk and ask trivial questions, or just chat. Email pop-up notices on your desk-tops, lap-top and your mobile phone beeping at you any time anything at all happens in the world! Yes, this article is amount Time Management, or better still – YOU management! Because let’s face it, if YOU ultimately decide not to organise yourself, then your time is wasted.
I envy the very few people I know that get it right and I learned some good tips from my first Manager in my line of work in HR & Recruitment:
- Have a plan! Yes, the faithful To Do list. It doesn’t matter if it’s a paper list or electronic, but have one. Every day. Assign what tools or information you need and place expiration dates or the level of priority to keep you focused on the important tasks and review each day.
- Evaluate Tasks. How important is it? Will it provide the best ROI of your time? There has to be a payback for completing this task and if not, why is it important? Some people just do things by rote without thinking why and what the positive outcomes it will have on the business, or the development of your staff. Stop and think about the why and score it appropriately on your To do list.
- Use Tools. There is plenty of technology to help you schedule, remind you, colour codes for calendars and ring tones for meetings etc. Use these wisely and befitting to your needs. Personally, I never commit anything to memory, (which is not dependable at the best of times these days,) therefore I put notes in my diary because I know I will get reminders and not miss out.
- Get Started - do the hardest thing first! (I wanted to use the Nike slogan here, but I think it’s been over-used). Procrastination is the hardest thing to overcome when you have a difficult task ahead. The more you adjourn this task, the more stress you’ll feel and inevitably, the higher the risk of failure. A tip I’ve learned is to break it up into ‘chunks’ . Start and complete one piece and you’ll find it easier to do the next one and next one and so on.
- Delegate! Don’t be a hoarder and ‘let go’ of duties which can be completed by other members of your team or other teams. Fearing that someone else won’t do it the same or better than you is counter-productive. For example, anything other than basic spreadsheet skills, it takes me longer to set up formulae and make a spreadsheet look ‘professional’. One of my team members is a guru and enjoys the involvement of doing something differently, even for a short period of time, but it saves me hours!
I’ve purposefully left ‘delegate’ until last, because it’s a perfect segue way into what I do! Delegating projects like high volume recruitment (RPO), Contractor Management (CMO), Outsourced Payroll, Assessment Centre management and other HR outsourcing services can definitely help you manage your time better and allow you to get on with your own unique talent.
There are so many other tried and tested tips and suggestions out there to keep you focused and successful. What are yours?