Management most often have the heaviest workload in the department and are most likely to find themselves with shifting priorities and unexpected demands throughout their working day, constantly dealing with issues from their team can mean other tasks they have to complete are left to pile up, especially when their management responsibilities also include another job role i.e. Sales Director who manages the sales team but also carries out the sales themselves. As the demands of management constantly changes, it’s especially important for management to be aware of how they manage their time and in particular, for those who’ve recently been promoted to management or have moved on to a new employer and who may find themselves struggling with their new responsibilities. Below are some time Management Tips for Directors / Managers.
Plan and take time to make time
Taking the time to plan is not time wasted at the expense of the completion of any tasks. Time that is spent in understanding what needs to be done, and planning how to achieve it and creating a “To-Do List” will have a massive return on investment. Try not to plan for every moment of your day but leave time for dealing with unexpected tasks and for adapting to interruptions and changing of priorities. Take time to train and coach your staff in their time management, this may be perceived as an interruption to their work, but will pay off in the long run.
Make lists but not lists of lists
Making “To-Do Lists” is an important part of planning your day based on your workload and priorities. You may wish to create 2 lists one comprising of a “Daily To-Do List” and a second as an “Ongoing To-Do List” that you are constantly revisiting and updating (whichever works for you). Be careful, making lists of lists is something some managers often boast about but it suggests procrastination. Make sure your planning is not veering into the territory of planning for procrastination as this can have the same negative outcome of not creating a list at all.
Often effective communication is one of the first things lost when a manager is struggling to manage their own time. When management don’t have a structured day this can often result in them only focusing on their own workload and time that should be taken to listen, understand and explain to their team can be lost and misunderstandings can occur. Have team meetings and check regularly that you are taking the time to communicate effectively with your team as management relies so heavily on effective communication.
Take your breaks
It’s always tempting, when you have many tasks to complete, to skip your breaks. This usually is a false economy, as it can have a negative impact on concentration levels later on in the day and make you less efficient. Taking breaks is especially important for management as they need to set an example and precedent to their staff that taking breaks does not mean a lack of commitment to the company and to the job.
Manage your emails
Set aside a certain amount of time each day to act on and replying to your emails in your inbox, starting with the most important emails and finishing on the least important ones. If you are concerned that urgent emails will arrive outside of the time you have set aside in your “Daily To-Do List” then by all means check your inbox regularly but commit yourself to your routine and don’t break it unless it’s to deal with something that is really important.
Address your habits
You should address all of your activities at regular intervals to ensure they are efficient and productive, rather than they have become ingrained habits. As an example, a Director / Manager who is a prolific typist may instinctively type up notes themselves rather than asking someone else. Although you can do it, that doesn’t mean you should. If you’re under pressure, think about what tasks you can delegate to allow you to concentrate on the important tasks that you can’t delegate.
Effective management utilises the skills of delegation to empower staff to work independently and confidently. If you make sure your staff have received the appropriate training, resources and support to do their jobs the new responsibilities will contribute to your team being more productive, and feel more personally happier, which will reduce staff turnover and make life at work easier all round for everyone.
Keep up your appearances
We all have bad days so make sure you always appear to your team to be on top of your time management, even if you are not. It’s vital that all your staff feel they can approach you for help and advice, as managers who give the impression of being too busy to be approached risk not being informed of important issues. Be aware of your team’s performances and ensure you are approachable and able to deal with interruptions in a flexible and open manner.
Know how to deal with interruptions
When your team members do approach you for ad-hoc help or advice, the first thing to consider is whether it would be more efficient for the employee’s request for help or advice to be addressed now or later. The temptation is usually to react and try and deal with all issues immediately but be aware the disturbance to your working day may not be worth it. If you find interruptions frustrating, then consider a time-sensitive open/shut door policy that way your staff can come to you with issues only during certain times. Make yourself aware of conversation ‘closers’, these are polite ways of firmly ending a conversation that threatens to drag on, e.g. “Well, I’m glad we got that sorted out. Let me know if it happens again.”
Know what to do if it gets too much
Working under a bit of pressure can be a great motivator, especially when you know by using your “To-Do List” you can get everything done by just organising yourself more, but even the best time managers in the world know their limits, so if you’ve tried the tips above, received the appropriate training, resources and support to do your job, then you may need to consider addressing this with your line manager or CEO to reduce your workload and avoiding burn out.
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