Time management is an important factor in today’s workplace. With less payroll and more tasks many employee’s find themselves struggling to get everything done. Being an effective manager in today’s market is more dependent on how well we can manage our time.
Making lists is fantastic but don’t overload it. Nothing will be worse than making a to-do list and at the end of the day it hasn’t been completed. When I started in management I used to make lists. Long complex lists of everything that needed to get done. I didn’t want to forget anything, I wanted to be perfect. Some days the list took me an hour to make, that was a huge waste of time. The day would end, and I’d look down at this wonderful tool I thought would help me organize and streamline my day only to find it still half full.
You need to be realistic in your capabilities, and that of others. Time management isn’t just about what’s important, but who is best suited to perform certain tasks. If I had made a smaller list and posted it for others to see all of it would have been done. Thankfully another manager was mentoring me and when he came in he corrected me. Having tasks for each day for each person, specific daily tasks that you and others will perform is the best way to ensure they get done. These tasks should be only the main priorities, the required items. Of course, there is always more to be done, but by focusing in on the important items and clearing them away you can and will be able to do more in the end. A task list should never be a wish list.
Open ended meetings will be the death of you. Few people enjoy attending meetings. They take up time and will be seen as a nuisance to employees if not structured. The problem is people do like to talk. They want clarification to ensure they understand some of them do so love to say, “Ya, but what if?” The first meeting I ran as a trainer went well, I had a curriculum and it was broken down into sections that were easy to follow and flowed, it was company orientation. The next meeting I had to run didn’t go as well it had a poorly defined agenda done by me and became more of a free for all. I can’t even remember what the original purpose was, I doubt the people in the meeting knew either.
To combat this the next time I make an agenda. I distributed it a week before the meeting so the participants knew what to expect. This one went great, it was to help our respectful staffs in the selling of a new product. Having that agenda helped me and the attendee’s stay focused and kept us from becoming side tracked or it degenerating into a catch-all type of meeting. You should set aside some time for people to bring things up that are relevant to the topic but otherwise keep it simple five or six items is more than enough. If possible let the attendee’s have input into the agenda, it helps a great deal.
Do you find yourself answering the same question over and over? If you are there is something wrong somewhere. It could be a hole in the training curriculum. I had some trouble with this and after looking into it discovered that the training module that addressed the question I was repeatedly asked actually gave conflicting policies. If I hadn’t taken the time to find out why they were asking, it’s possible they could still be.
This particular problem was actually company wide, causing a great deal of time to be wasted. This is a rather drastic example though. It’s also possible that instructions someone was given weren’t clearly defined causing repetitive questions to be asked. Regardless of what the root cause is, it needs to be addressed quickly so you aren’t constantly being bombarded by it. Take the time to find out why the question is being asked, a few minutes now could save you hundreds of minutes in the long run if you can identify the deficiency you will save time.
Being ignored is a serious problem. I don’t mean intentionally either, that’s a whole different subject. What I am referring to is when you request something be done and no one does it or even gets back to you. When information doesn’t get communicated down to all levels work stops. If you find it necessary to track individuals down to get the information through to them its time to change your methods. This can, will and does suck up a lot of time. Sending an email may seem like the best way to distribute information but not if people don’t see them in a timely fashion.
Consider having a morning meeting just a quick breakdown of what the day looks like so everyone starts off on the same page. If you plan on sending updates through a specific format throughout the day, let the people know ahead of time so they can keep an eye out for it. I always had mini meeting before and after a shift would come on. Before so we were on the same page, after so we could review what worked, what didn’t and learn. That saved me an enormous amount of time.
Do you have piles and piles of paper. This will really ruin your day, it always did mine. Don’t let people pile things on your desk or anywhere near your workstation. Utilize bins with labels on them. Implement a filing systems so the piles disappear. There is nothing as frustrating as looking for a piece of paper that was “just here.” In my job I had to review and sign off on a great many pieces of paper. When I started I used to say things like, “just put them on the desk, Ill get to them later.” That right there wasted more of my time in the first three months then everything else combined. Have a system, teach it to others and use it. If you have procedures already in place even better. Paperwork is the black hole of time management, don’t let it get you.
Time management doesn’t come naturally to most people. It is something we learn over time as we do our various jobs. Track what goes on in your workplace. Find the problems, the pitfalls and the weaknesses. Being aware is the best way to cut down on the time wasters. If you don’t identify them you will never be able to fix them.Taking time to save time sounds like having to spend money to make money. I assure you both are true. Take the time to identify the time wasters, you will find yourself breathing easier within a few days. Good luck!