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Effective Time Management Strategies

By David Shaffer (1255 words)
Posted in Professional Development on January 29, 2013

There are (8) comments permalink

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By David Shaffer, Business Advisor & Executive Coach, David Shaffer Consulting LLC

The time management dilemma many of us face on a daily basis is that there is far too much to do and not enough time or resources to meet the demands. Having any form of personal life-not a subject for discussion. And with the economy in such turmoil and the expectation of performance equating 'do more with less'-there simply is not enough time to go around.

 

If this sounds all too familiar, then hopefully this article will provide you with some ideas that can help move you toward a balanced life and managing time rather than time managing you. From many years of working with management teams, I have witnessed on numerous occasions how time is made available when we are faced with tragedy, family illness or circumstances, and in the worst case a death in the family. It is unfortunate that we can determine priorities in the face of tragedy but struggle with the same as part of daily activities.

 

 

A Gift For You

To set the stage and to relieve some of the stress, let’s try an exercise that will hopefully stimulate your imagination. You have just received notice that you have been given $1,440 per day to spend as you see fit. Of course, there are several stipulations that you must abide by to receive these dollars. First, you must spend the full amount each day, be careful as to what you buy as receipt of the dollars can be terminated at any time, and lastly what you do not spend you lose as it cannot be banked.

 

Ready to go! I am certain that many options have raced through your mind and I trust most of them noble. Well, as you may have guessed by now, 1,440 is the number of minutes each and every day. It is given to us daily, can stop at any time and once the time is gone, it is gone. The significance is to answer for you, "what I will do with my 1,440 minutes?".  Again, either you manage time or time will manage you.

 

 

Why Is Managing Time So Difficult?

The response to this question is typically, “If I knew the answer, then I could change”. With that in mind, it is worth looking at several of the key factors that studies and research have identified as contributors to a lack of time management. It is more than likely that as you evaluate your “typical” day, many of these will resonate.  By looking at and recognizing the time distractions, a first step can be taken to eliminate, reduce and at least prioritize how they are addressed.

  • Can’t Say No
  • E-Mails Just Never Stop
  • Phone Calls – Constant
  • Poor Organizational Skills
  • Constant Interruptions – Must have my Door Open
  • Failure to Prioritize
  • No Clearly Defined Goals
  • A “Boss” that Expects My Time
  • Travel and Traffic
  • Poorly Trained Employees – Particularly those that Report to Me
  • Lack of Direction
  • Communication and Direction Inconsistent
  • Minimal Authority to Empower Others

 

As an initial action step, it is recommended that you maintain a log sheet and record where your time is being spent. Although tedious and may appear to add even more time, it is an easy way to recap at the end of a week, determine where the time was spent and utilize the information to lay out a plan to prioritize and allocate your time. Undoubtedly, you will identify several immediate actions, however if you maintain the log over several weeks, a pattern will emerge and long-term corrective action can be introduced.

 

 

A Checklist of Recommendations 

Experience utilizing this process has shown that several key actions will result, again, only if you step up and commit to following through. The following is a checklist to help you manage your time.

 

  • Discontinuing Many Tasks that are not Critical
  • Reorganizing the Daily Routine to Better Prioritize
  • Streamline the Activity – Stop Doing the Same Way, Just Because Always So
  • Train Others to Take on Some of the Work
  • Establish a Priority System
  • Be Diligent and Specific with Your Team as to Where you Need to be Copied on E-Mails
  • Reduce Procrastination – Deal with an Issue Once – Address, Delegate or Dump
  • Change Your Work Habits
  • Learn to Say No – Schedule versus React for Most Non Critical Activities
  • Establish Meeting Agendas and Stick to Them – Make Meetings Productive
  • Encourage Employees to Bring Solutions Rather than Just problems
  • For Repetitive Issues – Train so that Delegation can Occur
  • Calendar Personal Time and Stick to it
  • Don’t Accept Others Responsibilities
  • Plan for Downtime – if you Fill the Calendar it will Overflow
  • Publish Your Calendar so Others Know Your Availability
  • Establish Task Time Commitments – Know What the Demands Will be on Your Time
  • Break Large Projects into Smaller Manageable Tasks and Sub Projects

 

The benefit of implementing these actions is laying the foundation for you to manage your time.

 

Summary 

We started by giving you $1,440 a day with an opportunity to maximize the benefit to you. Now remove the dollar sign and add minutes instead; look to manage time to bring you benefit. For many of you, who are a part of a large corporation especially, remember that the company most likely survived prior to your arrival and will continue to do so if you take time off. Schedule and plan, delegate and manage, eliminate procrastination and spend your 1,440 minutes making each and every day the best it can be.

 


{#/pub/images/DavidShafferPhoto.jpg}Written by David Shaffer, Partner and Director Consulting Services, David Shaffer Consulting LLC   Recognized for his ability to effectively integrate all aspects of business including financial management, information systems, infrastructure, sales management, sales strategies and operations. David assists companies from executive strategic planning through operational and business process improvement opportunities to the selection and integration of Management Information Systems solutions. He also supports Private Equity firms in due diligence activities extending from strategic planning into leadership development and CEO mentoring. His range of company support includes start up through fortune 500.

 

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Comments (8)

Talila Millman posted on: January 30, 2013

Good article and an always relevant topic. Thank you for sharing. Personally, the thing that works the best for me is setting a priority list at the beginning of each day and following up at least on the top 3-5 on my list.

Hania Whitfield posted on: January 30, 2013

A little fresher approach then the usual lecture on how we don't manage our time properly. I especially like the 1440 analogy. Have a great day!

BALEWA NDAYAKO posted on: January 31, 2013

In addition to Talila’s advice of setting a priority list, I pause to refocus after every two hours of activity. I spend the next two minutes trying to ascertain whether the past two hours were productive.

Michael Spence posted on: January 31, 2013

Taking a deep breath, a step back, and spending a few moments of planning can save many minutes or even hours, as well as relieve some stress.
No magic bullet to change the world, just some ideas to get us to a better place.

William Woloschuk posted on: January 31, 2013

The 'Checklist' of what you should do and how to prioritize tasks will get you going in the right direction..besides attempting to take on everything learn to delegate some of your tasks to others. Going forward as you say 'make your meetings productive and have participants come with problems and solutions' to share with everyone. Be prepared to discuss critical topics and make your team responsive.

Ruth Katz posted on: February 1, 2013

The best advice that I was ever given about time management is :
' If all else fails, lower your standards".

Of course, this must be tempered with good common sense,
as we don't want our homes to resemble a garbage tip !!

Andrew R. (Andy) Curry posted on: February 5, 2013

A good timely (no pun intended) article.

I spotted something in there that really hits home on me. Dang...just when I thought I had everything figured out, I find out I didn't. :)

Harriet Cassy posted on: February 5, 2013

Thank You for posting that I'm currently writing an essay about time management really useful!

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