Managing time, what an oxymoron! We can’t manage time…. leader or not.
As a leader we have many big responsibilities, and never enough time. So, what to do?
One, prioritize: draw a line down the middle of a page, then draw another line horizontally across the middle of the page. Label the upper half of the page: important, label the lower half of the page: not important. Label the right half of the page: urgent; label the left half of the page: not urgent. This is called the Eisenhower Decision Matrix.
The Eisenhower Decision Matrix:
Reflect on your activities for the last week and plot them on the chart. Was the activity urgent/not urgent? Was the activity important/not important? Stand back and really look at how you are spending your time. What could you have done different?
Ideally, we spend the most time doing activities in the important, not urgent quadrant, then the important and urgent quadrant. We want to spend the least amount of time in the not important/not urgent quadrant.
I like to repeat this exercise every few months because I find I drift into spending too much time in the not productive quadrants. Reading emails would qualify for the not important and not urgent.
It is also too easy to spend too much time trying to “save” some projects. Invest in your high performers; you can’t invest too much in a high performer. Also remember to let go of perfectionism and your control tendencies. Delegation helps develop people and often will improve the outcome by including more ideas and points of view.
My other insight is to be more productive in the little windows of time that pop up during the day. With all the tools we have at our fingertips, it is easy to check things off your list between meetings or while waiting.
I like to make a list at the end of the day of the things I need to do. When I get up it is easy to prioritize and have an action plan. Checking my calendar and keeping it up to date helps me remember important things and decreases stress of worrying about forgetting commitments. I try to do the hardest or most challenging tasks first thing in the morning.
This are some simple tips, but often when we are stressed it is important to go back to the fundamentals: How am I using my time? Can I increase my efficiency? Can I partner with someone or ask for help?