You have places to be and money to make so I’ll keep this brief.
Are you constantly plagued with those feelings of: “I can never seem to get everything on my list done—and— I feel like I’m always just trying to catch up.”
As a manager or business owner, you’re constantly being pulled in different directions and while you can’t eliminate interruptions, you can control how much time you delegate to them. An article from the November-December, 1947 Harvard Business Review broke down the relationship in novel way—and yeah, it’s from 1947 but it still rings just as true today…
“Why is it that managers are typically running out of time while their subordinates are typically running out of work?”
The problem is delegation. Managers have three types of time: boss-imposed, system-imposed, and self-imposed. Most managers (in 1947 and today) spend far more time dealing with their subordinate’s problems than they realize. Managers need to learn how to increase the optional component of their self-imposed time by minimizing the lesser components. With the added time managers need to get better control over their boss-imposed and system-imposed activities.
Be aware of when a issue has been passed to you by an employee and rather than taking on problems—request proposed solutions. Letting a dilemma instantly become your responsibility takes the burden off employees—not allowing them to learn from their mistakes and grow in their field.
ABC Analysis: The ABC technique has been used by businesses even before that Business Review article came out in 1947. The method basically involves the categorization of large data into groups. (A) Indicates tasks that are both urgent and important. (B) Indicates tasks that are important but not urgent. While (C) indicates tasks that are neither important nor urgent. Each sub-group is then rank-ordered by priority.
Pareto Theory: ABC analysis is often combined with Pareto analysis (also called the 80/20 rule)—which is the idea that 80% of tasks can be completed in 20% of the disposable time. The remaining 20% of tasks will take up 80% of the time.
POSEC Method: An acronym that mirrors Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:
P: Prioritize your time and define your life by goals
O: Organize things you have to accomplish regularly to be successful (family, finances).
S: Streamline things you may not enjoy doing, but must accomplish (work, chores).
E: Economize things you should do or may even like to do, but they’re not pressingly urgent (hobbies, socializing).
C: Contribute by paying attention to the few remaining things that make a difference (social obligations).
Just Give Me the Tips, Already
Ok, sorry—I know you’re in a rush. Here are some quick tips to help you manage your time on a day-to-day basis.
- Make a to-do list every single day. Organize with your methodology of choice just make sure you’re putting the most important tasks at the top. Tackle the tasks you dread the most, first. Feeling overwhelmed to start? Try to motivate yourself with a reward when you’re finished with that first, horrible chore. Make sure you keep your list with you at all times and at the end of the day, review your list and start to create your list for tomorrow.
- Disconnect—it’s okay. Don’t be afraid to put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign at the office or disconnect your phone or internet if you have a deadline. Getting in the practice of not allowing distractions to, well, distract you can be crucial in order to stay productive. If you’re not sure you’re using your time wisely or want to see how much time you’re actually wasting on distractions every week, give RescueTime a shot—or there’s several others you can try as well.
- Find your most productive time. Are you an early-riser that can bang out the report between 5am and 7:59am—or do you thrive after-hours? Find your time and plan your work schedule around it.
- Focus. Multitasking isn’t always the best approach to getting things checked off your list. Focus on one task at a time by closing all the applications and browser windows that aren’t directly related to the task at hand.
- Leave a 5-10 minute buffer between tasks.
- Target to complete tasks early, rather than on time.
- Set reminders for tasks 15 minutes before rather than at the time its due.
- Don’t be cut meetings or tasks once they’ve gone over the allotted time.