Feb 112014

With Finite Resources and Infinite Needs, Do You Navigate Your Time Wisely?

As individuals move up the leadership ladder, they often find that time becomes a scarce commodity. There is always more to do with little time to do it. We can’t do everything ourselves so we have to set priorities in order to manage our time effectively.

One way to manage our time more effectively is to set personal goals. Setting goals is essential for setting priorities. If we set goals, we can determine what is critical to our mission, what is important, and what is nice to get done if we have the time. If we write out a work plan, we can then determine the sequence of events necessary to get the tasks completed.

Determine what your time is worth. By attaching a monetary value to your time, you can then ask yourself, “Is this worth the use of my time?” Review your calendar for the past 90 days and identify your three biggest time wasters. If reviewing your calendar is not effective, then keep track of your activities over the next 90 days and identify your time wasters that way. Once you have done that, set plans to reduce the three biggest time wasters by 50 percent. This could be done by being more effective in your use of emails and voice mails. For example, when making a call, jot down the points you want to cover before you dial the number. Learn to shut down conversations that aren’t necessary. Just say, “I have another task I have to get done, can we continue this conversation another time?” Set deadlines for yourself, and use your best time of day for the toughest tasks. If you do your best work in the morning, don’t waste that time on less important items.

Delegate time-consuming work to others whenever possible. Effectively delegating things you don’t have to do yourself empowers your team and helps them grow. It’s also a good way to develop leadership. If you effectively delegate to others, it creates a win-win situation.

If you know other professionals who manage their time well, observe what they do and compare that to what you do. You can adopt their time management practices if they are practices that work for you.

Many times, we don’t have time to dwell on our choices, rather we have to make them on the spot, without all the data we would like to have (See previous article on ambiguity). We cannot be right all of the time. We should not try to be a perfectionist or we will miss many opportunities.

Many times, we just have a hard time saying no. Saying no is particularly difficult if you are a Type Two (Helper) Enneagram Personality. People will always ask you to help them, to do something they can’t do, putting more on your plate than you have time to do. Managing your time effectively means having the ability to say no. If someone requesting your help has already asked you to do other things, ask them which of those things they would like to cancel or postpone in order to allow you to accomplish their most recent request. In this way, you get to say yes and no by letting them choose.

Finally, remember that others you interact with may also be under time constraints. Be efficient with their time as well. Get to the point and get it done. Give them the opportunity for new discussions, but if they don’t have anything else to add, say “Thanks” and be on your way.

Managing our time is a great leadership competency. To quote Robert Orben, “Time flies. It’s up to you to be the navigator.”


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