Effective Time Management

Monday, September 16, 2013 - 07:49

By Leon Gettler

Poor management of time prevents managers from reaching their full potential. As a manager, many conflicting demands might be made on you. Workdays can be long, tiring and frustrating due to poor planning and people controlling your time and work. Time can be wasted doing things that should be done in a few moments or not at all.

Here’s the bottom line: all of us have exactly the same amount of time. The best managers know how to use this resource effectively. Writing in Forbes, Oliver Emberton says managers have to get their priorities right and focus on what’s important rather than what’s urgent. “Humans are pre-wired to focus on things which demand an immediate response, like alerts on their phones – and to postpone things which are most important, like going to the gym,’’ Emberton says. “You need to reverse that, which goes against your brain and most of human society.” He says managers have to learn to say “No”, unplug the television and suspend notifications from email and social media.

Joe Mathews, Don Debolt and Deb Percival at entrepreneur.com recommend managers carry a schedule and record all their thoughts, conversations and activities to help them understand how much they can get done during the course of a day and where their precious moments are going. They also have to assign a time to every activity and schedule time for interruptions. Managers are advised to take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan their day and take five minutes before every task and conversation to decide what outcome they want.

They should also put up a “Do not disturb” sign when they have to get work done, practice not answering the phone just because it’s ringing and answering e-mails just because they show up. Managers are also advised to lock out other distractions like Facebook and other forms of social media unless they use these tools to generate business and finally, remember that it’s impossible to get everything done.

The Lifehack site says managers should create a daily plan, either in the morning or even better, the night before going to sleep. That gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. It also advises managers to peg a time limit to each task, use a calendar, preferably linked to their mobile phone, know their deadlines, target to finish every task earlier than scheduled, prioritise, batch similar tasks together, eliminate time-wasters and not batch everything too close together so that they can finish off tasks well beforehand.

Specialists at the Mayo Clinic say managers should learn how to delegate by taking a look at their to-do list and consider what they can pass on to someone else. They should also take the time they need to do a quality job because errors usually result in time spent making corrections, which takes more time overall. Managers are told here to break large, time-consuming tasks into smaller tasks, to keep a diary of everything they do for three days to determine how they’re spending their time and to take a break when needed.