If you search for time management books on Amazon, you’ll find 106,960 results demonstrating the universal need for help managing this limited resource. Teaching people how to manage their time is an industry in itself, but every one of us can benefit from the valuable skills they provide.
We all struggle with managing our time and controlling those things that steal our time. Things like unproductive emails, Internet search rabbit trails or conversations that go off on time-wasting tangents are all examples of things we do that rob us of one of the most valuable resources we have – our time.
Personal time management dictates how well we can juggle our work responsibilities with our home and social obligations. However, time management skills for entrepreneurs and business leaders alike are critical to organizational success. The most successful organizations have figured out the importance of helping people spend time on those things that align with strategic objectives.
A recent McKinsey Quarterly report suggests that of 1500 executives interviewed, only 52 percent of them spent their time on strategic objectives and that time management is increasingly becoming an organizational issue that needs management.
“Leadership time…too often gets treated as though it were limitless, with all good opportunities receiving high priority regardless of the leadership capacity to drive them forward.”
Organizational time management is a cultural issue that needs to be addressed at the strategic level. When the organization’s senior leaders are held accountable for how they use their time, other levels of employees will follow suit.
“Few organizations treat executive time as the finite and measurable resource it is.”
Follow these six tips and find that time is not an enemy.
1. Confront the Perception
There is a misguided perception that time is infinite for executives and very often all employees. Confronting and challenging this perception is the first step in improving corporate time management.
2. Create Time Budgets
Budgeting and allocating employee time is as important as budgeting and allocating financial resources to organizational programs and initiatives. Create time budgets by determining what percentage of time employees should spend on key responsibilities. This can be as simple as a daily time schedule. For example, I worked with an executive who was only available for business meetings in the morning so he could spend his afternoons working on key responsibilities. He set the standard for time management for the rest of the company.
“Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed.” Peter Drucker, management consultant and author
3. Stop Doing Too Many Things
We all get trapped with this one. We have a great idea for a new project or program to support global strategy and often neglect the important step of looking at current projects and initiatives that may no longer add value or contribute to organizational priorities. It’s important to intentionally look at and routinely review what initiatives are no longer viable in order to free up resources for new initiatives.
Learning the skill of reprioritizing and knowing which piece of paper to push to the front of the pile are skills all leaders must learn to master. An urgent matter today may resolve itself by tomorrow. Staying aware and intentionally prioritizing are critical.
5. Have Strong Administrative Support
Good admins are worth every penny because of their ability to help executives balance competing priorities and manage their limited time. These support people can help an executive stay focused on key priorities by handling other issues and tasks in the office. Delegating those things an admin can take care of gives valuable time to the executives.
6. Keep a Time Log
Spend a few weeks keeping a time log. Make a list of those things you do that are the most important to meeting corporate objectives and pay attention to how much time you spend doing them. Make a category for time killers. This exercise is typically an eye opener and helps to identify those things that rob our valuable time.
Business competition today is ever-increasing and organizations of all types need to know their valuable resources are spent doing those things that help to achieve objectives. Spending a little time thinking about how time is used in your organization can turn into some of the most productive time you spend!
Patricia Lotich is the founder of The Thriving Small Business and a small business coach. Patricia helps business owners solve problems and develop strategy and goals to achieve objectives. Schedule a free 30 minute phone consultation with Patricia to see how Thriving Small Business can help your organization.