Manager Skills: Time Management For Busy ManagersBy
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One of the most frequent questions I get asked by busy managers focuses upon the need to undertake effective time management.
How can we get everything done within short timescales?
How do we support our teams to deliver effectively, when it seems that everything which we need to get done should have been submitted yesterday?
Managing time is a hugely challenging skill, and yet with a few simple steps it’s possible to get on top of it once and for all, streamlining the management process and freeing up space to focus on what needs to get done.
In my experience, there are three types of manager.
There is the kind of person who writes endless “Things to Do” lists, in the hope that they will somehow manage to keep on top of everything by writing it all down, and this will support them to succeed in delivering all their objectives within the required deadline.
There is the haphazard manager, who delegates random tasks to their team as they arise, in a bid to manage each task which comes in to their department.
Finally, there is the organized manager, who keeps ahead of the Things to Do list through careful delegation and a systematic approach to time management.
In essence, effective time management does come down to the princely art of delegation.
If we acknowledge that no single person has either the resource or capacity to undertake the challenges allocated to an entire team, it’s evident that the art of delegating will feature quite heavily in the list of skills needed for the effective completion of everyday tasks. Knowing how, and who, to delegate tasks to is an invaluable skill, and supports the busy manager to reduce a heavy workload without compromising on the quality of delivery.
However, there are also a number of key skills associated with great time management which can reduce pressure and streamline the management process, as follows:
Stay on top of new requests
When any manager gets a new request for a task to be completed through their team, the temptation is to drop everything and focus upon getting it done. However, this can be disastrous for your existing (or Business As Usual) work. A better way to handle it is to develop a form of queuing system, where new requests are logged and come to in order, so that all your customers and stakeholders are dealt with in a fair way.
While it’s great to imagine that we will get everything done straight away, this is rarely possible for a busy team. By contacting your customers and being honest about your workload, you can give them a realistic date for completion of work, which doesn’t leave them champing at the bit wondering whether you have forgotten about them as their deadline looms.
Explain why it will take you so many days to complete a task, and keep communications lines open so that they can contact you or your team and check on progress.
Change your working pattern
So many people realise the benefit of changing their working hours in order to get more done. By going in to the office two hours earlier (even if you leave two hours earlier at the end of the day), it could be possible to buy yourself an extra four hours worth of ‘doing’ time.
This is because normal offices operate on a 9-5 shift, and you can gain dividends from getting in early and reaping the benefits of an undisturbed quote of time before the phone and e-mails start up.
Use innovation rather than effort
Rather than working harder, try identifying ways that you can streamline processes and automate tasks to get more done, faster. A bit of creative thinking and innovation can go a long way when it comes to buying yourself time.
What can be enhanced?
What processes could be dispensed with, or implemented, to save effort and make time?
Thinking about things in this light could pave the way to a more streamlined way of working.
Make a compelling case for more resource
If you are really struggling to cope with a heavy workload, it may be time to petition for more support, whether this comes from outsourcing, more staff, or getting a temp in to help out for a while. It is never worth pushing yourself beyond your natural limits, so make a compelling business case for your department as to why you need more help, and what this help will bring in terms of benefit to the company.
How do you find time to do everything?
Please share your views in the comments below.