Time Management Skills for Busy Leaders

Thu, Nov 20, 2014 @ 11:44 AM

Time Management Tips for LeadersOur world, both online and offline, seems to be moving at lightening speed these days with no signs of slowing down.

Leaders and managers are inundated with information from a variety of sources on a daily basis leaving many feeling like a plate juggler at the carnival. Between the constant influx of social media alerts, email, voice messages or texts, keeping on top of it all can seem like an impossible task.

Each day we are allotted 86,400 seconds and how that time is used is important to the success of team leaders and managers. Once time has passed, it cannot be retrieved and there are no “reset” buttons. Those involved in leadership positions need to learn how to optimize their time and make the best use of their 86,400 seconds.

The first step in achieving effective time management is to determine what is important, and what is urgent. Working to pin-point the tasks, projects and information that needs to dominate our time is critical. This knowledge is also instrumental in keeping the company humming, your team united and work moving forward. Many people in leadership positions find themselves caught in the "Urgency Trap" where everything is seemingly urgent when in reality, it is not.

The problem with the technological resources that we have in place for communication is oftentimes it makes things appear more urgent than they are. Email has “high-priority” flags and texts can reach us no matter where we are. This can result in the feeling or perception that everything needs to be done immediately (if not sooner). By getting sidetracked by these non-urgent activities, like spending most of the day responding to emails instead working a project, leaders and managers tend to lose focus on what's really important.

Every activity or task has some degree of both importance and urgency and can be isolated into four categories:

  1. Crisis: Important and Urgent
  2. Planning, Preparation and Prevention: Important but Not Urgent
  3. Trivial Work: Urgent but Not Important
  4. Time Wasters: Not Urgent and Not Important

With today’s technology (or team members) hounding us at every turn, it's easy to believe that everything is important. If you are someone who lives in Crisis mode, you may be prone to burnout, high stress and reduced productivity from spending so much time in this high-anxiety space. It’s no secret that stress and excessive worry can take a toll on the body as well. By shifting your mindset and working to prioritize the tasks and issues at hand, you will find yourself spending less time in the Crisis mode and more time dealing with things that are truly important. When the crisis does occur, you will find that you are more equipped to handle it, and able to move on much more easily.

On the flipside, things like social media and texting can be just as much of a time-waster as they are important parts of your daily To Do List. By isolating and identifying the tasks that are Urgent but not Important, leaders will get a clearer picture of how their time is spent. This also sheds light on tasks or habits that should be dismissed from the To Do List all together.

Need more guidance in mastering time management? Download our Productivity Tips ebook below:

Productivity Tips ebook

Written by Susan Cullen

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