Managing your time

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Managing Your time

Effective managers are those who have managed to get to grips with two main issues:

Organising themselves
Organising others

The two subjects are interlocked because unless you are organised it will be very hard for you to properly delegate. But the manager who does not delegate ends up overloaded, overwhelmed and drowning.

Put these two issues together and what you are looking at is effective use of your own, and other people's time.

The aim of the course, and these notes, is to help you tackle the problem of time management in a systematic way, looking first at your job and what you do and then the people you supervise.


Organising Yourself

So how can the manager who allows time to manage himself start to reverse the process. Have a look at the following points.


Plan your time

The first major point is planning. Can you find time to plan? There is an answer to that - without planning you will never have time for anything. It may take more time initially but look upon it as a positive, sensible investment, so that this finite and expensive resource is used to most effect. Take control of the time at your disposal and decide how you want to spend it.


Identify Active and Reactive Tasks

If you make a list of all the jobs you have to do, it will probably be a mixture of large and small tasks, urgent and long term, boring and interesting. Tasks can normally be divided into two categories - active and reactive. The active ones help you achieve the objective of your job whereas the reactive ones are those that land on your desk each day for you to sort out. Once you have made this distinction you can then allocate status to those jobs which deserve it and you are ready to look at priorities.


Work out priorities

Fitting your work into the time you have available each day involves two decisions:

1) How long you want to spend on it - how important is it?
2) How soon must it be completed by - how urgent is it?

Working out the combination of urgency and importance of each task will ensure important tasks are allocated sufficient time and reactive tasks can then be slotted into the plan.

Your list of jobs and your schedule need reviewing daily. Priorities may change so each day your list needs to be updated and your schedule, where necessary, reorganised to cope with both the active and the reactive tasks.


Time Planning Tools

A diary, visual planners and bring forward files are all devices which will help you save time, so that the time saved can be spent on the more important tasks. They are like acquiring a second memory - usually more consistent than the average managerial memory. Shuffling papers, searching pending trays and racking your brains in an attempt to remind yourself of what you are supposed to be doing is a waste of time. Schedule the diary, use wall charts and introduce bring forward files.


Getting through the work

Most of us get through our working day, some way or another but why is it that some days do seem better than others?

There is no right answer to this. On good days it is likely that:-
• You clearly know what you wanted to do
• The job was probably one you liked doing
• The time you put aside for the job allowed you to complete it
• When the job was completed someone appreciated the effort you had put into that job.

You may have noticed that different people approach the day's work in different ways:
• Some will do each task as it comes in
• Some will work on a task until a new one comes, then leave the old and start the new task
• Some will respond to tasks they like doing and avoid those they don't like doing
• Some will only appear to take on tasks that allow them to moan and groan all day

Should any of the above be your way?


Stop: Think about the problem

 If you wish to manage your own time effectively this is just the area that you will have to give some thought to.

 1) What priorities can you give each tasks you do?
a. Must do today?
b. Should do today - tomorrow?
c. Could do today - tomorrow - this week?

 2) Understand the difference between important - urgent

Importance decides how much effort and time you put into a task. Urgency dictates when you do it.

For example:
• If a task is urgent but unimportant then do it now but spend little time on it
• If a task is urgent and important then do it now and spend a lot (or sufficient time on it)

Warning - jobs which are important but not urgent often become forgotten. Schedule them into your diary ahead of time. Never forget the important tasks in your job are the tasks you are paid to do.

3) Check the ways you may tend to distort importance or urgency depending on your own personal values. These personal values produce reflexes which sometimes blur our judgement.


Try out the next exercise for yourself.

Which jobs or tasks do you wrongly promote because your boss gives them to you?
List the important jobs you do because your staff ask you to do them.
List the jobs and tasks you do and like doing.
List the jobs you do urgently because you like the person asking.
List the tasks and jobs you start but do not finish.


Managing time bandits

Any obstacle that gets in the way of you achieving your job objectives and does not contribute anything positive may be described as a time bandit.

Often they are not your fault - some are inevitable - but if they affect you, regardless of whether you see them as controllable, they are your problem.

The first stage in managing your time wasters effectively is to identify the obstacles and inhibitions you find in your work situation. Do you know what and who steals time from you?


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