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Busy managers loaded with responsibilities suffer the burden of never enough time. Naturally, we cannot manufacture more time to complete our work - or can we?
Below we look at time management skills and tools for managers and line of business leads. We go over four time management best practices that strengthen productivity and control over your work. Each of the four tips has a tool listed beneath it to help you achieve the related time management goal. It is the tools that can create more time for you, by reducing time spent on repetitive tasks.
1. Prioritize Tasks
Prioritization is an ability that propels success in any field. You cannot be great in any profession without excelling in this skill. Prioritization is what empowers you to work (and live) with purpose and take control of your most precious resource: time. Every morning - or the night before - look at your to-do list. Identify which items are a priority. Urgent tasks are the highest priority. Then tackle high-value tasks or work that aligns with your short- and long-term goals. Low-priority tasks should be delegated or deleted. With this knowledge, you can accordingly block off time to complete work.
Be realistic about how long it takes to perform specific tasks, giving yourself enough time to do the job; however, refrain from going over the time limit for any project. Research shows that the time it takes to do something swells to the assigned time limit.
Tool: Tasks within Outlook - Daily Task list and To-do Bar
2. Identify Your Most Productive Hours
We all have energy cycles that amplify and abate throughout the day. Early birds may work best first thing in the morning before many of us are up. Night owls may quickly burn through a project in the evening when most people are winding down.
Accept that nobody operates at their peak throughout the day and identify your most productive hours. Use this finding to your advantage. Schedule your most challenging work when you thrive. Conversely, leave less difficult tasks for your less energetic moments.
Keep in mind your valuable non-work commitments too. Do you walk your kids to school in the morning? Do you take an evening yoga class to help you de-stress?
At the center of identifying our most productive time and allocating it towards our most important professional and private work is being kind to yourself. As such, embracing this concept is part and parcel to having a healthy perspective on our work-life balance.
Tool: Outlook to analyze your schedule and OneNote to keep notes on your energy levels and productivity
3. Block Off Time
Busy managers of any profession share something in common: a calendar colourfully filled in with back-to-back meetings. One-on-ones with reports, team check-ins, brainstorming sessions, and executive conferences - these are all critical management functions, but they should not collectively come at the expense of doing deep work.
Block off time in your calendar to work alone on projects that require concentration. This intensely-focused work time enhances overall productivity and broadens the space for creative problem-solving. Try a “meeting-free” day once a week, or designate certain hours on specific days every week for deep-thinking work.
This approach is challenging for people who have difficulty saying “no” to meeting invites or other requests, such as help on a project. Stand in your personal space. Among the most powerful time management skills and tools for managers is knowing when to say “no.” Tell yourself you need deep-thinking time to contribute more to the organization and for a sense of control over your work.
Tool: Outlook to block off time
4. Automate As Many Tasks As Possible
The aggregate of the repetitive administrative tasks you regularly perform equates to a considerable loss of time for value-add work. Minimizing low-skill duties with automation is the big secret in time management skills and tools for managers.
Today, automation advancements are increasing exponentially. It seems like every other week a new technology is introduced to ease the burdens of repetitive and boring, but necessary burdens. The trick is learning about these automations and leaning into them.
Q: Who wants to coordinate schedules with several clicks of a mouse?
A: Automate it.
Q: Tired of the several steps needed to share or find information?
A: There are automation tools for that.
Q: Have tons of emails? Constantly clicking in and out of messages? What about the little, annoying steps of filling and deleting emails?
A: Yes, you can automate all of this.
Q: How unsatisfying is it to assign multiple tasks to the team? Or piecemeal managing a team’s workflow?
A: There is an easier way. (Automation)
Q: What about reviewing and approving documents? Or filling out forms like expense reports?
A: Automate. Automate. Automate.
All of the small steps you take - every click of the mouse or each time you look in a different place for information - it all adds up to wasted time and mind power. You may take these chores for granted because that is the way it has always been. Fortunately, you do not have to do it any more thanks to automation.
Tools: All of Microsoft Suite has automation features
Making the Most of Time Management Skills and Tools for Managers
Time management skills are pretty much evergreen. Properly prioritizing, productivity maximization, and calendar blocking - are the roots of quality time management.
What changes are the time management tools. In essence, it is your ability to harness these tools to their full capacities that is the ongoing time management learning process and challenge.
You may need help with core time management skills and/or making the most of emerging automations. Priority Management is your guide.
For four decades we have been leading managers towards improved workload management and time management practices. Our focus unites behavioural change with new technologies so you stay ahead of the rest in optimizing your valuable time.