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12 Effective Time Management Skills for Managers

12 Effective Time Management Skills for Managers

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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