It seems we’re all short of time these days. But as a company leader or senior executive, you really need to optimise your time so that you ensure success for your business.
Here are some time management strategies and techniques that you can use to ensure you are at your most productive.
Implement Some Time Management Basics
Firstly, there is no point trying to implement time management strategies without addressing the basics. So, you need to lay the foundations on which a successful time management strategy can work.
This includes having an effective environment to work in. Many agree that a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind and that success can only come from working in a tidy environment. You may not feel the same, but it’s true that clutter can be distracting and can slow you down when you’re looking for things.
Your personal health is also important. Find ways of mitigating your stress levels with a relaxing hobby or by getting regular exercise. And it’s vital to eat well, sleep enough and keep yourself well hydrated. Maintaining your personal health buoys your happiness and puts you at your most mentally and physically capable.
Plan and Prioritise
The Pareto principle seems to apply to everything in life. And in business it seems true too – that you will achieve 80% of the results you want by completing 20% of the tasks.
Of course, the difficulty comes in deciding which 20% of those tasks are the ones to be focusing on. To do that, the key to time management is to assess and prioritise your tasks so that you tackle them according to priority. Think of it like triage for your task list.
There are lots of methods for planning and prioritising for better time management:
The ABCD method
This method has you categorise your tasks into four:
- A tasks are urgent and important
- B tasks are important, but not urgent
- C tasks are not important, but they are urgent
- D tasks are neither important nor urgent
You then list them according to their ranked priority, A to D, and work on them in that order.
An enhancement of the technique sees you rank your to-dos according to both importance and urgency. Importance is ranked as A B or C, for high, medium and low – then also rated for urgency, 1,2 and 3 – again high, medium and low. So once each task is assigned its letter and number rating, you then rank them from A1 through to C3. Then you can work on those tasks that are the most urgent and important first, gradually working your way down the list.
The Eisenhower Method
This method has been based on a remark supposedly made by Dwight D. Eisenhower, who said, “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”
The technique is similar to the ABCD method but is depicted using a four-box matrix and has greater clarity about each category and what you do with tasks in each:
- Level 1 tasks are urgent and important – such as an emergency or genuine crisis or a problem that needs to be solved quickly – these are done immediately
- Level 2 tasks are important, not urgent – like planning and scheduled meetings – these are given an end date and are scheduled in
- Level 3 tasks are not important and not urgent – such as distractions, unimportant meetings, interruptions – these are delegated
- Level 4 tasks are not important and not urgent – like trivia, time wasters, and personal distractions – these tasks and activities are dropped
The Glass Jar Method
You’ve possibly already heard of the analogy of the glass jar that is filled with rocks, pebbles and sand as it relates to what’s important in your personal life. But it can be applied in business too.
The rocks are the tasks that are most important, the ones that are strategic in nature. Pebbles are still important, but less essential and the sand is made up of the smaller, less significant tasks.
This method of time management again shares similarities with the others mentioned. Here, you firstly tackle the rocks. The theory is that if you work first on just the pebbles or the sand, they “fill up the jar” quickly and leave no room for the strategic rocks.
Use Your Available Time More Productively
Once your tasks are prioritised, it’s important to maximise the time available in which you can do them.
Cutting down the number of meetings you attend is one way of freeing up some time. Consider if meetings can be delegated to staff who can report the essentials back to you. Or you can handle meetings more quickly. One technique to achieve this is to hold stand up meetings. Introducing the slight discomfort of having to stand encourages participants to keep the meeting short.
You can also protect your time better. Isolate yourself if you have important work to do, block out time in your calendar to avoid interruptions and switch off your phone.
Delegation is vital to helping you stick to the strategic and important work. If you find your workload is too great, then revisit the priorities and delegate your less important tasks. Having good people around you to whom you can delegate tasks or entire projects allows them to manage the aspects that should not necessarily be your responsibility as a business leader. Equally, consider if any projects that are diverting too much attention and time – for you and your staff – can be postponed.
Of course, none of us can actually manage time – it runs and runs without stopping. But we can manage what we spend our time doing and ensure we maximise what’s available.
Along with various technology and tools, using these strategies will help you manage your time more effectively and run your projects more efficiently.
Whilst we can’t help with everything to do with your time management, at NoBlue we can certainly help improve your business processes. So, if you want to spend less time on admin and more time working on the important matters in your business, contact a member of our team today to see how.