Sometimes it’s the simple insights that are the most powerful, and when it comes to managing a managing directors time, perhaps the most important.
I therefore recommend we manage our time by looking at our activities through four key stages.
The first phase is the importance of goal clarity; of being clear about your goals and priorities. This applies to you as a whole person; not just to your business world so consider your objectives in four key parts of your world:
• your home and family
• your business and career; and
• your community and the wider world
I won’t cover this tip in any more detail now as we shall be looking further into goal setting shortly.
There is a critical linkage between having this goal clarity and the “Important vs Urgent” time management matrix made popular by Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and explained briefly here. It’s simply that you can’t analyse activities as to whether they are important or simply urgent unless you have some structure to define what is important!
Effectiveness = Doing the right things
Phase two is about planning and prioritising based upon those clear goals. In addition to reminding us all of the “Important vs Urgent” matrix, the need for a proactive approach. How annual and monthly or weekly plans help, and how ending each day by identifying 3-5 key items to prioritise the next is really helpful. So phase two is all about being effective by doing the right things.
Efficiency = Doing things right
Having focused on doing the right things, phase three is about doing things right.
• “Chunking”, the idea that setting aside blocks of time to do important activities is critical in our business lives.
• Email distraction. Don’t switch on your emails until you’ve completed the one most important thing you need to do today.
• Interruptions, and the recognition that however much we might believe we are good at multitasking, there is significant evidence that productivity is higher when we focus on one key task at a time.
• Education; the need to educate those around us to avoid our productivity being damaged by them.
The final stage of time management thinking is to include in our schedule sanity breaks. Regular micro-breaks throughout the day, or macro breaks when we take time out to think strategically, regain our clarity of focus on what is important, and recover from the stresses of the day.