What is Time Management?
Time management is considered to be one of the primary “soft skills” valued in the workplace, and effective time management skills are key to a successful work life.
We all have the same amount of time available to us each day. And that time is valuable. Once it has passed, it is gone forever.
The strategic plan may be well thought through. However the best of plans can fall apart without the ability to recognise the impact that personal time management has on our capability to respond to and understand how we deal with urgent, important and non urgent/important tasks.
Once you have experienced the ‘pleasure’ of meeting deadlines, being punctual, arriving organised you may not want to feel the ‘pain’ of poor SELF management again. However as they say ‘old habits die hard’ – it will take commitment and effort to become an organised person – but the benefits are many.
Benefits of Efficient Time Management
Managing your time can directly reduce your stress level. Fewer surprises. Fewer tight deadlines. Less rushing from task-to-task and place-to-place.
Get More Done
Of course, being productive is one of the main goals of time management. When you are aware of what you need to do, you are able to better manage your workload. You will be able to get more (of the right tasks) done in less time.
Being organised results in less rework and mistakes. Forgotten items, details, and instructions lead to extra work. How often do you have to do a task more than once? Or make an extra trip because you forget something?
Less Personal Friction and Problems
How often do you create your own problems? Whether it is a forgotten appointment or missed deadline, not managing your time results in increased personal friction. Avoid creating your own problems by planning and preparing for your day.
More Free Time
We can’t create more time, but you can make better use of it by managing your time. Even simple actions like shifting your commute or getting your work done early can produce more leisure time in your life.
Less Wasted Time
When you know what you need to do, you waste less time in idle activities. Instead of wondering what you should be doing next, you can already be a step ahead of your work.
A common misconception is that time management takes extra effort. To the contrary, proper time management makes your life easier. Things take less effort, whether it is packing for that trip or finishing up that project.
More Time where it Matters
Managing your time is allotting your time where it has the most impact. Time management allows you to spend your time on the things that matter most to you as a manager Such as time spent with your team such as coaching and development.
Always remember – Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
Planning takes time, thought and effort.
Urgent Vs Important
Steven Covey designed the “Urgent Vs Important model”. Using it will enable you to detail the tasks that are important to you and urgent from a business perspective.
The model helps you to allocate tasks/activities to one of four categories, giving you a choice of four actions:
Plan to do
Reject & explain
Resist & cease
Time Management Best Practice
Time Management starts with the commitment to change
Preview your schedule – understand your progress:
- Review your activities
- Look at the day in the context of the week to prevent overloading
- Build in contingency to allow for a positive response to change or emergencies
Prioritise: identify activities as QI or QII-keeps QIII and QIV out of your schedule
- Places importance on the key activities
- Keeps you aware of choices you make
- Understand that prioritisation includes only items that you’ve put in the time management framework
Time sensitive activities on the right, any time activities on the left:
- Makes for effective schedule decisions
- Helps you remain sensitive to commitments
Best use of your time: remember importance rather than urgency!
7 Habits of Highly Effective People
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, first published in 1988, is a business and self-help book written by Stephen R. Covey. Covey presents an approach to being effective in attaining goals by aligning oneself to what he calls “true north” principles of a character ethic that he presents as universal and timeless.
This is the ability to control your environment, rather than have it control you as can so often be the case. Self-determination, choice and the power to decide your response to stimulus, conditions and circumstance.
Begin with the end in mind
This is the habit of personal leadership, leading yourself towards your aims. By developing the habit of concentrating on relevant activities, you will build a platform to avoid distractions and become more productive and successful.
Put first things first
This is the habit of personal management. This is about organising and implementing activities in line with the aims established in habit 2. Covey says that habit 2 is the first or mental creation and habit 3 is the second or physical creation.
This is the habit of interpersonal leadership, necessary because achievements are largely dependent on co-operative efforts with others. He says that win-win is based on the assumption that there is plenty for everyone. He adds that success follows a co-operative approach more naturally than the confrontation to win or lose.
Seek first to understand and then to be understood
This is Covey’s habit of communication. Put simply, diagnose before you prescribe; simple and effective.
This is the habit of creative co-operation, the principle that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, which implicitly lays down the challenge to see the good and potential in the other person’s contribution.
Sharpen the saw
This is the habit of self-renewal and it surrounds all the other habits, enabling and encouraging them to happen and grow. Covey interprets the self into four parts – the spiritual, mental, physical and social/emotional which all need feeding and developing.
Emails – ‘The single biggest distraction in modern working life’
From research that we have done throughout the business, we have come to the conclusion that some Team Leaders are getting too many emails to manage, with some team Team Leaders receiving up to 140 per day!
Below are some guidelines and best practices that can help manage an email overload.
There are some Team Leaders that are getting considerably fewer emails, around 15-20, and this is a more manageable number. Please do see which of the guidelines can help you, give them a try, and see how they work. If you have any questions, please speak to your Active Management Coach Specialist.
Check your emails at certain times of the day
This has worked very well with a number of Team Leaders. It makes sense to use your and your team’s least productive time of the day to check emails. Spend the busier times of the day working with your team, as this is when they need you most. See when your team have quiet periods and use these periods to check your email. Set aside time in your calendar to check your emails at this time and this time only. By doing this, there will be a number of other benefits that will come as a result of this, explained lower.
Use ‘out of office’ and ’email signature’ features
You may be worried about not always being connected to your inbox in case something important comes through that needs to be actioned straight away. Don’t be. Use the out of office feature on Outlook to let them know that you are away from your PC for large parts of the day. A message like the following should suffice “Thank you for your email. I am away from my desk for large parts of the day, but I will be monitoring my inbox later today. If it is urgent please call me on 07……………” A simple message like this will ensure that people are aware that they will not be getting a reply immediately. If they do need a reply immediately they will call. You will be surprised how few calls you will actually get! This now leads onto the next guideline.
Don’t be available 24/7
Even when you are checking your emails at the specific times of the day, read (& respond – where necessary) them in the order that they came through to you. If an email comes through to you whilst you are working on others, carry on with the one you are working on. This may seem like a different approach, but the reason for this is to create the image of you not being available straight away. Coupled with an out of office message, people will not be surprised at you not replying.
2 minute rule
If an email takes less than 2 minutes to read and reply, then get it done straight away. However, if you are receiving a huge number of emails that need replying to, this time can really add up. This can be adapted. You can lower this to a minute if needed. If it takes longer than 2 minutes, then it needs to be filed.
Use the filing system on Outlook
By using the filing system on Outlook, you can organise your emails into much more manageable sections without having to work through one by one, or spend a lot of time searching through old emails for what you need. Set up folders that will help with the types of emails that you get. Examples are; FYIs, Delegation, Urgent, to be actioned, Information only. The list goes on, and these are just a few possibilities, however, these will be based on your job role and the types of emails that you get on a regular basis.
Aim to have your inbox empty at the end of the day
Try to have your inbox empty at the end of your working day. Delete all the emails that you will not need, and if you are worried about needing it in the future, chances are somebody else, somewhere in the world, still has the email that you can get hold of. The emails that you need to keep, file them away. This helps you to be more organised with the emails, but if your inbox is empty, then it will mean that there is nothing there for you to scroll through to ‘have a look at’. By ensuring that your inbox is empty when you go home, it will also mean that you can switch off from emails when you leave. There will not be any need to check your emails when you are at home or before you come into work the following morning as you know it’s empty. There are going to be some occasions when you are waiting for an important mail, meaning you may need to check outside of work.
Take a walk
If you are emailing somebody who is in the same office, why don’t you take a walk and speak to them in person instead of emailing them? You could always get in a bit of MBWA (Management By walking About) with your team, walk to the person you were going to be emailing and speak to them about the issue. It makes it a lot more personal if you take the time rather than emailing. This is also good if you need an urgent response, as they may not be checking their emails until their specified time
“Research carried out shows that an average person will take 41 seconds to regain their train of thought and get back to what they were doing after being interrupted by an email”