10 Strategies to Manage Your Time More Efficiently
As a business leader, have you ever had one of those days (or weeks) where you’re constantly pulled from task-to-task, only to realize when it’s time to go home that it feels like you haven’t actually accomplished anything? Too often, leaders are immersed in unimportant details at the expense of high-priority tasks.
So how do you break the cycle? In order to meet organizational demands, it is important to be increasingly responsive when it comes to accomplishing company expectations, while balancing many priorities with (usually) limited resources. As such, developing the skills to work efficiently, regardless of your level in the organization, can ultimately make or break your ability to meet these challenges and get the job done effectively.
If more often than not you find yourself in this situation, try doing the following:
1. Get a Handle On How You Currently Spend Your Time
Start writing down the tasks that you are performing, and determine if you are devoting the appropriate time to your key priorities. Doing this periodically can ensure that your time and energy are in line with meeting your main goals.
2. Create a Daily To-Do List
Prior to leaving the office each day, write down certain tasks that need to be completed the following day. As a general rule, try keeping the list to three to five priorities until you become more efficient in completing these tasks. Also, make it a point to reward yourself if you complete the list—it will help keep you energized!
3. Delegate More Authority
First, analyze what tasks can be delegated to proven employees and assign them accordingly. Then, distribute low-priority or routine tasks to other staff members, or simply let them go undone (if possible). Not only does this save you time, it also provides an opportunity for people to grow and develop their skills.
4. Reduce Any Excessive Drop-In Interruptions
Unfortunately, the nature of managerial work lends itself to frequent interruptions by peers and staff members; however, if you don’t take action, the issues will only increase. As such, try decreasing your accessibility by closing your door when you really need to get work done. Also, if you are too busy, communicate this appropriately and let people know when you’ll be available to talk.
5. Be Sensitive to Job Overload
Job overload usually means poor performance and burnout in the long-term. For this reason, be practical when accepting new assignments to ensure that they do not interfere with your commitments and deliverables.
6. Schedule More Frequent Staff Meetings
If people have a lot of questions about staff members’ duties or assignments and are unclear about information, schedule more frequent staff meetings or extend the existing meeting. It might seem counterintuitive when you’re already pressed for time, but it will save you in the long run!
7. Practice Email Management
Check and return emails in the morning, mid-day, and near the end of the day. With hundreds of emails most likely hitting your inbox each day, it’s easy to lose site of the tasks you swore you would get done that day. Likewise, avoid time-wasting telephone tag by appropriately using voicemail, and communicating exactly why you called and what you need.
8. Manage Meetings Effectively
Since the majority of a leader’s time is usually spent in meetings, make them as efficient and productive as possible. For example, prepare an agenda in advance, start and end the meetings on time, try to minimize disruptions, and follow-up by distributing the notes of the meeting, including assignments and deadlines.
9. Work at Overcoming Procrastination
Unfortunately, procrastinating only delays the inevitable and provides you with less time to complete a task. Try doing the small, easier tasks of a project or assignment to help build momentum into the more difficult tasks. Also, tackle undesirable tasks by focusing on them first and getting them out of the way; doing so can help build a sense of accomplishment!
10. Create a More-Efficient Office Workspace
Organize your desk based on the frequency with which you use items, such as your computer and phone. Any items that are used infrequently should be removed from your desk. Also, try keeping only the things in front of you that you are working on to help with efficiency.
By efficiently managing your time clock, you’ll be more ready to focus on your primary objectives and become a more effective leader in your organization!