Great Time Management for Managers - 6 Essential Habits You Need to Succeed

time management for managers

Time management for managers matters.

You have to be able to use it wisely and well if you want to achieve excellent results, both personally and in your team.

Whether you’re new to management or an experienced leader of people, these tips on time management for managers will help you improve your productivity and profits:

1. Get yourself organized

Before you can manage a team, you need to get your own house in order. That means getting in early and making time to organize your workspace.

You need to find what you want to, consistently, quickly and easily, not just for your own personal benefit, but for the good of your team.

Less time wasted searching for what you need means more time is available to get on with what really matters -- managing your team so they can produce the best possible results.

Learning how to get organized with your papers, emails, files and folders takes time, but it’s an investment that will always pay off.

2. Know what matters

Okay, you’ve cleared the decks. Your mind is clear and free from mental clutter.

What will you do now?

It is important to clarify exactly what work is expected of you and your team. Does everyone know what they are working towards?

This applies to both external expectations and internal goals.

Once you are clear about what matters, it’s easier to recognize which actions contribute to the bottom line and what pulls you away from what you want.

Clarifying who does what also means establishing who doesn't do what. Learn how to delegate work tasks so you can focus on the work only you can do.

Roles and goals mean clarity of purpose. Define yours.

3. Ring fence time to do what matters

It’s all too easy to get sucked into reacting to pressing problems, particularly if you’re a manager.

But ‘fire-fighting’ can be a vicious circle. The more you do it, the less time you seem to have for what is important but not urgent. And the less time you spend planning, creating and maintaining, the more time you spend fire-fighting.

The solution?

Ring fence some quality time for yourself.

Every day you need to know that you can work on what creates the most value without fear of distractions or interruptions. Being a manager means you’ll be exposed to both more than most.

So how do you create time to do your most important work?

Identify a time and a place when you can routinely put aside an hour or more when you can think, plan and work with total focus.

Again, learning how to wake up early and start working in peace before everyone else arrives is a useful strategy for many people. Or you may prefer to work at another time in the day when your energy levels are high and you know you won’t be disturbed.

The point is, your most important creative work happens when you can give it concentrated time and attention.

4. Set limits

Effective time management for managers means knowing when to stop.

There are only so many hours in a day, so you need to put time limits on all open-ended tasks and events.

If something has to be done that day, see it through to completion. If not, put a stop to it and continue tomorrow.

Whether it’s a meeting, conversation, paperwork, or even that ring fenced time mentioned above, once you establish how long it will take, you can plan your day accordingly.

An added bonus is that these limits encourage creativity and productivity.

On the flip side, not applying time limits means some things don’t get done.

What activities seem to run on and on with your team?

How could you limit them more effectively?

Limits are easy to apply to everything, if you know how to process work...

5. Great time management for managers means using a to-do list system to process work

'What gets measured gets managed’ applies to projects and tasks as much as it does to performance and people.

To get things done, people write to-do lists. They identify what they want to do and then add those things to the list.

But to-do lists have a nasty habit of getting longer.

Why? Because we add to what hasn’t been done.

The tendency is to do only those tasks that don’t ‘hurt’ so much. And the list becomes ever longer.

To be truly effective, you need to know how to make a list so you do everything that you decide is important.

6. 'DDDD' your email 

Good time management for managers hinges on being able to process emails in the same manner.

Here’s a simple 'time management for managers' system based on an idea from Mark Forster that will help you manage everything in your inbox.

Let’s assume your inbox has hundreds of emails in it.

  • Create seven folders. Call one of them ‘backlog’, name the next five for each weekday, and the last one, ‘future’.
  • Put everything from before today in to the backlog folder. Don’t add anything else to it.
  • You now have an inbox that only contains today’s unread email.
  • Now go through today’s emails. If it genuinely requires an urgent same-day action, deal with it. Otherwise, delegate it to someone else, delete it or defer it until the next appropriate day. Ideally this means the following day, but it may relate to a future date.

Each day do three things:

  • Process all of today’s emails. Delete, defer, delegate or do (if it takes less time to action than to organize or it’s genuinely same-day urgent).
  • Action those emails in today’s dated folder.
  • Clear some of your backlog, according to what’s most urgent. Whether you do a little or a lot, gradually, day by day, it will dwindle down until it is empty.

Three will soon become two as your backlog dwindles down to nothing.

* * *

Time management for managers never gets to the point at which it’s ‘done’. But your skills can be sharpened and gradually improved each day.

Start today and see what happens seven days from now...

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