I often hear managers saying “I don’t have enough time”.
Many leaders try to squeeze as many tasks as they can into the work week. This is because as we all know, time is money.
This is correct, time is money. But unless you are doing something valuable with your time, you’re wasting both time and money.
That’s why you need to manage time better.
Simple Ways to Manage Time Better
The problem many leaders raise when trying to protect their time is that you might upset people.
“You can’t just turn off your phone”, is one I’ve heard.
I understand that. In many jobs, you can’t be uncontactable for long periods. However, we can pay attention to the most distracting forms of communication and start to manage time better.
1. Manage Time Better By Working In Offline Mode
It’s important to understand which communication methods are the most distracting in your day. For me, it is most definitely email. Email can come from anywhere at any time, usually without any sense of priority.
Related post: 11 Ways the Most Productive People Handle Their Emails.
If somebody calls you, generally it’s because they need to discuss something right away. But with email, it is up to you to determine it’s priority as it sits in your full inbox.
It could be a message telling everyone about the next Christmas party. Or an email telling people to clean the kitchen. Maybe it’s a message from your boss who is sitting in a meeting somewhere else.
In other words, many emails are unrelated to the task that you want to work on right now.
Use the Offline Mode Function of Your Email Client
A simple solution is to work in offline mode for 30 to 60 minutes at a time. You generally don’t have to reply to email straight away. This means you can allocate time to check emails later.
Put your email into offline mode and focus on your current priorities. You’ll be amazed at the difference to your productivity, without the constant interruptions.
Another related tip to this is to turn off the desktop notifications of your email program. This means, you don’t have the little window showing up while you’re trying to do something else, distracting you from your purpose.
Related post: The Essential Leader’s Guide to Writing Better Emails.
2. Get Away From Your Normal Work Location
Have you ever noticed when you are at your desk, people see you and drop by to ask you questions? There is nothing wrong with this, but it can be a huge distraction in your day.
A great technique to try is to stay away from your normal work location from time to time. An hour away from your desk is not going to impact anybody too badly, and it gives you an hour to focus.
When somebody calls in sick or goes to a funeral, everybody leaves them alone for the day. The world still turns, and people reprioritise or do the work regardless.
I’m not suggesting you say you’re at a funeral or take a sick day. However, sometimes booking a meeting room for yourself and working privately for an hour is a great way to work. People can’t find you at your desk, so they just wait until they see you again instead, or they solve their problems themselves.
Booking a meeting for yourself will probably be one of the most productive meetings you’ll have!
3. Manage Time Better By Setting Priorities For the Next Day
Many leaders let others choose their priorities for them. The problem with this approach is that most of the time, other people don’t know (or care) what your priorities are. They are focused on their own tasks.
When you constantly react to other people’s demands rather than focusing on your own, you will fail to deliver your on your objectives.
A technique I’ve found useful to manage time better is to write down my priorities for the next day, before I leave work. This means that when I arrive in the morning, I am immediately aware of what I need to do for the day.
Failing to set priorities this way leads to reactive behaviour, where you jump from task to task, because you haven’t taken the time to understand the important work you need to do.
When you combine setting priorities with working offline, this can be a powerful way to accomplish the work that really needs to be done.
Related post: Top 5 Time Management Tips for Leaders.
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The only way you’ll ever get what you need done is by understanding your own priorities and carving out time to make sure you accomplish them. Use these tips to manage time better today.
What other ways do you use to manage your time? I’d love to read them in the comments below!