Advertising

12 Effective Time Management Skills for Managers

12 Effective Time Management Skills for Managers
Advertising

Finding an effective and successful manager who doesn’t know how to properly manage their time and their employees is a bit like finding a unicorn. You won’t, because they don’t exist. Everyone is given an equal number of hours in the day to accomplish the tasks that need their attention, how you go about utilizing your time will ultimately determine whether or not you’re successful in completing those tasks.

Whether you’re a first-time manager or simply need a bit of a refresher course, learning and applying proper time management skills will go a long way in your career success.

Before we jump into the effective time management skills for managers, let’s discuss the “why” and “what” in regards to time management. Time management is simply a method of organizing how to best use the 24 hours in a day to accomplish personal and professional tasks.

The Eisenhower Matrix, developed by US President Dwight Eisenhower broke time management into four groups:[1]

Do First, Schedule, Delegate, and Don’t Do.

All time management skills fall somewhere within this matrix. Learning to break up your time and tasks effectively will allow you to accomplish goals and successfully lead your team — without losing your sanity.

1. Know How to Properly Plan out Goals

Benjamin Franklin once said,

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

The founding father really hit the nail on the head, and learning how to properly plan out your team’s goals is key. As for goals, you should set daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly goals that can be broken down into manageable assignments.

For example, if you have a goal of increasing traffic to the company’s website by 10 percent over the course of a year, you’ll need to set measurable milestones weekly, monthly, and at the six-month mark to keep the goal on track.

Take a look at these guides on setting short term and long term goals:

2. Good Communication Will Make a World of Difference

Good communication can make or break any relationship — personal or business – and when a manager is struggling with their time management, communication often suffers. However, if a manager takes the time to listen and clearly communicate with their team and clients, it can make all the difference in a business’ success.

Be sure to communicate regularly with your team members to ensure that they’re working towards milestones that have been clearly laid out. A manager that clearly and regularly communicates with customers is also more likely to grow their business. Be sure to make the most of your time with thoughtful communication.

Learn the 7 Ways to Ensure Effective Communication at Work.

3. Good Organization Is Key

Strong organization involving both delegated duties and your actual workspace are crucial to effective time management for managers. If your team is disorganized and people are unclear of what assignments are on their plate or who they should turn to for help, any set goals will suffer.

Good communication and good organization go hand-in-hand when it comes to making the most of one’s time.

Advertising

As for the organization of your workspace, well, if you like to keep your bedroom messy at home, that’s your business, but messiness has no place in business. Every minute that you’re looking for a misplaced file is a minute wasted that could have been better spent.

Why not take a look at these 15 Best Organizing Tips For Office Organization and Getting More Done?

4. Effective Delegation Is Everything

Effective delegation will help to set up your team members to work confidently and effectively. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to assess who on your staff is best-suited for what task and to assign the responsibilities that go with it. Failure to take the lead and delegate duties will only waste both the time of you and your team members.

By carefully delegating different duties and ensuring your staff have everything they need to complete those duties, team members will be less needy of you when it comes to getting the job done.

Learn the art of delegation in this guide: How to Delegate Work Effectively (The Definitive Guide for Leaders)

5. Schedule the Proper Tasks at the Proper Time

If you were building a car, you wouldn’t start by trying to install the sound system before the frame was in place, would you?

The first block of the Eisenhower Matrix is Do First, meaning decide what the key duties that you need to knock out are before moving on to the next thing. These might be small things like replying to a query from your boss or they could be larger, such as finalizing the plans for a new social media strategy.

The point is, make sure you learn to prioritize the most important tasks of each day, how long you’ll need to complete them and when they should be addressed.

Advertising

Here’s a technique to help you prioritize tasks: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

6. Learn to Recognize Multitasking Traps

Everyone has multiple things they need to do, but when we try juggling all those things at once, some are bound to hit the floor. It’s far too easy to start working on one assignment and then jump into your email because you got a ping on your phone. This is terrible for breaking your concentration and just forces your brain to play catchup.

Instead, set aside specific time blocks in the day to check and reply to emails. By focusing on one task at a time, you’ll finish the job sooner and give it your brain’s full attention.

Try these 9 Tips on Multitasking Management That Will Improve Your Productivity.

7. Learn to Prioritize Not Only Your Time, but Help Employees Prioritize Theirs

We might think that we devote a solid eight hours a day to the core duties of our jobs, but research shows that’s not us usually the case.[2] You can help your team make the most of their time (and yours) by occasionally doing a time audit. Set aside one day where you have your staff track what they do and how long they spend doing it.

Make sure you’re clear that this exercise is meant to help employees in the long-run and is not a way of weeding out poor workers. Hopefully, with enough data, you and your team will be able to better determine what’s working and how to avoid any work lags or interruptions.

9. Keeping up Appearances Can Go a Long Way

Just as sailors look to their captain for guidance in a storm, your employees need to feel that you’re managing your time well. If every time your employees approach you, you’re frazzled and in a rush, they’re more likely to hold off on coming to you about important issues.

There may be the occasional day when you are struggling to hold it all together, but keeping up the appearance of a manager who is on top of their time management game can really help in impacting others to manage their time effectively as well.

Advertising

10. Know What to Do When Your Plate Is Getting Too Full

A little pressure and a deadline can be a powerful motivator when it comes to hunkering down and getting things done. If you find that your list of “must-do” jobs is getting a little too long, it could be an indicator of two things:

One possibility is that you’re not managing your time as effectively as you could be. If that’s the case, go back to the top and review.

Even the best manager though has their limits and there are only so many minutes in a day. A good manager doesn’t try to do every task that comes their way themselves. They know how to best use their staff to help ensure that goals are met and they know when their workload is at capacity.

11. Understand the 80/20 Rule

According to the Pareto Principle or better known as the 80/20 rule, 80 percent of results come from just 20 percent of actions. The other 20 percent of results come from… you guessed it, 80 percent of actions.

As for how this all factors into the time management of an effective manager, well, the must-be-done, no excuses priorities might only be 20 percent of your job, but they’ll produce the biggest results. The remaining 80 percent of duties can probably be delegated out among the staff on your team.

12. Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Break When Needed

If you’re working like a freight train every second of the day without taking a few minutes to step back and breathe, you’re going to experience burnout. Burnout is that sneaky time management killer that creeps up when you’re trying to make sure not a single minute goes un-devoted to work. The result is that, you’ll soon have less energy and concentration and eventually your work may take a toll on your mental health.

Scheduling downtime for yourself is important. So encourage your employees to take breaks and don’t forget to take them yourself. A few breaks throughout the work day can go a long way in putting you in the right mindset for making the most of your time.

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to get caught up in the “day to day” of the business and find yourself developing unhealthy habits as a manager. Focus on building out the recommendations in this article, and spend time empowering your team. Not only will overall productivity improve, you’ll find yourself fast becoming a stellar and respectable leader.

Advertising

More About Work Productivity

Featured photo credit: Proxyclick Visitor Management System via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Chris Porteous

The CEO of Grey Smoke Media / My SEO Sucks, helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.

5 Simple Steps to Creating a Productive Daily Schedule How a Project Management Mindset Boosts Your Productivity 8 Tactics to Greatly Improve Motivation in the Workplace 16 Tips For Success from the World’s Most Influential People 10 Tools to Start an Online Business without Breaking the Bank

Trending in Leadership

1 How To Boost Employee Motivation During Difficult Times 2 7 Effective Ways To Motivate Employees in 2021 3 5 Values of an Effective Leader 4 How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them 5 Is People Management the Right Career Path for You?

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
Advertising

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

Advertising

From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

Advertising

The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

Advertising

But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

Advertising

Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Advertising

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

Read Next