If I put a quarter in a jar every time I heard “I was so unproductive today” or “what did I do all day” or “I can’t figure out how to manage my time”, I would have enough money saved up for a fabulous vacation! This is such a common theme with my clients. It doesn’t matter whether this is related to not managing time well, not understanding how they use their time, or adjusting to being a leader rather than a doer; it still causes a lot of stress for people. So what to do with this?
To begin, it’s important to have some self-awareness around how you are using your time and what productivity looks like in your role. I encourage my clients to track their time over a two-week period to gain this understanding. This can be as basic as writing down what you are doing every 15-30 minutes on a piece of paper or using one of the many online graphing resources which gives you a clear picture at the end of the tracking period. With this, you will visually be able to see what percentage of your time is used productively or non-productively and what changes you may need to make.
Next, come up with a strategy to manage your priorities. This will allow you to identify the highest-impact tasks for you and your team to focus on. Using a tool like the Eisenhower Urgent Important Matrix can help with this. Once you have identified the highest impact tasks, prepare for any barriers that may get in the way of you completing them, and make a plan to address the barriers when they arise. Part of this exercise will be figuring out which tasks you can delegate. Who on your team would be the most suited for the task? Who is looking for a new challenge?
You’ve now laid the groundwork for identifying your priorities and which tasks to focus on. I want to close with some tools that you can employ to help you manage your time effectively so you can be more productive:
Time blocking: Dividing your day into blocks of time with each block dedicated to a specific task or activity.
Natural rhythms: Reserving the times when you naturally feel more energized for your most important tasks and one’s that require more thought energy.
Task batching: Group similar tasks together to avoid context switching (which you hopefully identified as a barrier). Turn off notifications, if possible, to help you stay focused.
Time boxing: Set a limit on how much time you will spend on certain tasks.
The above suggestions/new habits will take time to implement. Set reasonable goals for yourself and don’t throw in the towel if all doesn’t go well immediately. Re-evaluate as needed.
Elevate your Leadership Potential
To learn more about time management and executive coaching, reach out to Danielle for a consultation.