Have you ever sat back at the end of a busy day and wondered exactly what you accomplished? Sure, a lot of things came across your desk. You had a great lunch meeting filled with potential promise. But what did you truly accomplish?
The trickiest part of the time management process is finding all of those time wasters that kill your efficiency and rob you of the opportunity to do more in less time. We all want more time – its our most valuable resource. But in reality, how you use each moment of the day is what controls your effectiveness as a worker, and as a leader. If you learn to focus in on results rather than action alone, you’ll soon be able to choose the thing to follow through on that will benefit both you and the company the most.
Action, Not Reaction
One of the biggest time wasters involves going into crisis mode when a big event occurs. Rather than planning and having things run smoothly, a telephone call or a simple statement from a client or employee can set the fires burning, and suck everyone in the office into problem solving mode. Reaction not only takes top priority, it stops productivity in its tracks as it pulls you away from other things that truly needed to be done.
Yet studies consistently show that many of these crisis situations can be solved with a little bit of foresight and planning. When a crisis happened, what caused it? How was the problem solved? Instead of reacting, completing the task, and pushing it aside to play catch up on other tasks, spend time evaluating the situation. What could have been done to avoid the crisis altogether? What’s missing in your system? In almost every case there are certain procedures that if implemented properly, would have been enough to avoid the situation. Learn from your mistakes. Implement new procedures and stop the next crisis from occurring before it ever has a chance.
Outcomes, Not Details
Leaders like to be in the know; understand what is happening from every direction. As we start out in a work environment and continue to grow as we learn and age, it can be difficult realizing that details aren’t necessarily our friends. Details take time. Details mean specifics. And in many cases, the specifics simply don’t matter for what a leader needs to know.
Leaders need to know when the task is complete. They need to understand the consequences of doing the job the wrong way, and make sure procedures are in place to avoid the bumps. Yet when it comes to the outcome, the only thing that truly matters is that the task is complete, and the end result is acceptable to all parties involved. The details don’t matter. Release control over the details, and you’ll give yourself more time to do what you truly need to do.
One of the biggest time savers we have is also one of our biggest time wasters: technology.
Those little devices we carry around with us everywhere make us more productive than ever before. They also have the potential to chain us to the office 24/7, and suck us in to doing things way beyond the scope of what truly needs to be done.
To gain control over technology, start by assessing what programs you truly need to be more efficient. In some cases it may mean evaluating new tools to provide you with better access to the things you need most.
Next, take the time to develop a plan for how you deal with technology. Rather than glancing at your phone every time an email comes in, pre-establish select times for email viewing: 7:30 am, noon and 4pm are good times to evaluate what’s happening during the day, but also gives you freedom to not be fixated on the little chimes that are bound to interrupt. You can also establish phone and texting timeframes, and answer questions and communications that come in during these specified time periods.
By establishing time frames in your mind, you’ll quickly learn to express your preferences to the people that contact you the most. If an assistant has an important question at 10am, she’ll know texting is the best way to get an answer quickly, and won’t expect an email response and get frustrated when it doesn’t happen. It’ll also set the stage for you to communicate with the people around you in a manner most friendly and conducive to letting you operate at your top efficiency level.