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How Can I Manage My Time More Effectively?
First understand that time management is the wrong idea. It's really self-management.
This post I'm going to be answering a question that I've heard a number of times and if you want to get your questions answered on the blog and on the Leadership Show That Has No Name just tweet at me @DMackArrington #AskDrDave.
The question I'm answering today is simple, but maybe not as simple as most would think. I have been asked many, many times “how do I manage my time more effectively?” Time management is something we all struggle with. There's always more to do in a day than hours to get it done, so how do you manage your time more effectively?
It’s Not about Time Management
First understand that time management is the wrong idea. It's really self-management. Time has nothing to do with what you're getting done, you have everything to do with what you are or aren’t getting done.
Start with Your Goals
Remember to start with your goals. Understand where you're trying to do and what you need to get done. Make sure you have a list of the top three things that have to get done today.
This list is the critical path items, those things that need to get done. Having this list will help you focus and accomplish the right things. We have all had those days where we were super efficient doing the wrong things, the top 3 list makes sure that doesn’t happen.
Make sure every day as much as possible with all the distractions and all of the interruptions that you stay focused on getting those three things done. This way you're going to make progress every day and gain traction on your goals over time.
Cut the distractions
The last thing is you need to remember is to cut out the distractions. Turn down the noise! Too often we leave our cell phones where we can hear them buzzing we have email dinging and all kind of distractions attacking us from every conceivable angle.
Try as much as possible to remove the distractions that are most likely to derail your day.
- Turn off email notifications for an hour (and never turn them on again - we can dream can't we?).
- Move to a conference room or send all calls to voicemail if your office phone won't stop ringing.
- Put your mobile phone on airplane mode or do not disturb.
- Put up a sign on your door/cubical entrance that states Do Not Disturb. Use this to carve out a focused hour without the "drop by gang" stopping by.
If you know you have specific meetings and there are other things that you can’t control, at least try to block off some time where you are free from the tyranny of email, text messages, phone calls, and social media.
If you need that hour after lunch or perhaps the last hour before you go home in the evening, try blocking off some time where you can actually work on your top 3. If you don't turn down the noise you will remain at the whim of the constant torrent of distractions.
Most leaders suffer crippling time crunches because they either can't or won't delegate. There are dozens of reasons, most not so good, why you shouldn't delegate tasks to members of your team. But the primary reason you should delegate is because you can't do the work of 3 or more people and still have a decent standard of living.
This is a rookie mistake, you think because it will take more time to explain something to someone, or it's just quicker for you to do it (I told you there were dozens of reasons) that you should do it yourself. WRONG! You will run yourself ragged and frustrate your team. If you want to get home at a decent hour, delegate and delegate well.
Delegation is more time consuming at first but over time, as your team begins to shoulder the new responsibilities, you are freed up to accomplish other pressing tasks and able to make it to your softball game (or fortnite tournament - I don't judge).
If you want to get your question answered on the leadership show that has no name tweet at me @DMackArrington #AskDrDave and I'll answer your leadership question right here on the show and on the blog.
What other tips, tricks, and suggestions do you have for managing your time more effectively. I am always looking for new ways to be more effective. Add your ideas in the comments below.
Until next time, make today count.