A team that knows how to manage their time will be less stressed, higher achieving and most importantly of all, they will have more room left over for the things they enjoy and the things that develop them.
Time management bears as big a relationship to workplace wellbeing as it does to workplace performance.
Whichever way you look at it, having time management strategies is important for your people and important for your organisation.
Here are 4 time management strategies to share with your team:.
Time Management Strategy 1. Prioritise with an ‘Ivy Lee’ list
Charles M. Schwab, an Amercan steel magnate of the late 19th/early 20th century wanted his team to be more productive so he enlisted the advice of a guy called Ivy Lee, who came in and spent 10 minutes or so with each member of the team, imparting them with a prioritisation tool.
They agreed that Ivy Lee would be paid what Scwab felt the advice was worth. Three months later, when he saw the results, Schwab paid Ivy Lee the equivalent of £325,000 by today’s currency standards.
For time management advice so valuable, it was deceptively simple. All Ivy Lee taught the team was this 5 step method:
- At the end of the day, write down the 6 most important things you need to get done tomorrow. Only 6.
- Prioritise these in order of importance. (i.e. how much they will impact on you achieving the goals that really matter).
- The following morning, focus just on task number 1. Finish this one before moving on to task number 2.
- Complete the whole list in this way. Write a fresh list at the work day’s end, moving unfinished items on to the new set of 6.
- Repeat every work day.
This method works because it focuses the mind on what’s important by forcing elimination and tough decisions, it makes us single task and it removes the friction of starting.
It also tackles the temptation to clear the small, less important items first and straying into the territory of the ‘busy fool’.
Time Management Strategy 2. Minimize distractions
As Bruce Lee observed, “The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.”
So many distractions can disrupt our focus. We can get distracted by the pull to do gratifying and easy, but relatively unimportant tasks.
Like checking something out on the internet, or checking on new messages in our inbox 50 times a day. We can get distracted by people interrupting us for advice or help. Or just a chat.
The invention of the mobile, though marvellous, means that we can be distracted by phone calls wherever we are. We feel a sense that we ought to answer it. That somehow it is rude or unprofessional not to.
Plus, we definitely get distracted by messages and notifications. Those pings break our absorption in even the deepest task.
How do we protect our precious focus in the face of all this? Which time management strategies can help us deal with this onslaught?
I am a great believer that all change starts with awareness.
Instead of rushing to action here and deactivating email and text notifications, diverting all calls to voicemail and sticking a do not disturb sign on your door… spend a week or so becoming really aware of the nature and frequency of the things that distract you:
- Which people interrupt you the most and what about?
- How many times do you naturally check your emails a day?
- What are the little tasks you tend to do when you are putting off the big important ones?
Don’t try to resist these things at first. Just really notice them.
If you do it this way, you’ll be better placed (and a lot more emotionally motivated) to start getting together a plan or time management strategies to minimise the disruptive impact these distractions have on your time.
Time Management Strategy 3. Bundling
This is perhaps my most favourite time management strategy of all…
Instead of viewing your to do list as loads of different tasks clamouring to be picked off one by one, start to see them more in terms of the category they fall under.
For example, don’t write 2 pieces of content a week and make posts on your professional social media accounts at random times throughout the week, when you could write 8 pieces of content a month and schedule 10 tweets in one afternoon sitting.
Don’t check your inbox 5 times a day, answering a few of emails each time. Check it twice a day and reply to 10 in one go.
If you have to have 3 clients meetings in the city, and there is also a conference you need to look in on there, schedule it all in for one day.
Bundling is a time management strategy that means you can do ‘deep work’. You can spend a whole day or afternoon immersed in the type of task at hand, and in the flow of it, rather than rapidly switching between modes of thinking and being like a flea hopping all about and wasting precious energy and time in the process.
Time Management Strategy 4. Don’t waste time travelling and waiting
If you’re waiting somewhere, ficking through social media and the news on your phone to pass the time until your client turns up, or you’re on the train going to a meeting reading a copy of the Metro to stave off boredom, or you’re driving to work in the car listening to crap local radio…
you are letting your time leak out of your life.
Just like the way that heat leaks out of an uninsulated house.
You are unintentionally wasting your most precious resource by assuming that time spent waiting or travelling doesn’t count as actual productive time.
It does. It can be productive.
Working on this is maybe the most rewarding and effortless time management strategy of all… All you need to do with this one is to start to view waiting and travelling time as absorbing knowledge time.
If you don’t have a reading list (and audio books/lectures count too) of stuff that knowing more about would be a good thing, professionally, then you need to get one.
Don’t just let your attention go to wherever the content that happens to be in front of you leads you.
Take control and decide what you want to seek knowledge on.
Get used to always having a loaded kindle or an interesting book on you, or audio books cued up on your phone. And don’t forget your earphones!
Are any of these time management strategies that you or you or your colleagues use already? Share them with your team and see what they think. Thanks for reading! If you liked this, check out another blog of ours: A simple group activity on time management