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Published on September 2, 2019

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 July 8, 2020

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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    Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

    The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

    But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

    However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

    This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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    Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

    We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

    Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

    Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

    The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

    When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

    When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

    How to Make Decision Effectively

    Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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    1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

    You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

    Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

    Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

    2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

    You don’t have to choose all the time.

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

    Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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    3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

    You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

    The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

    Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

    Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

    So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

    More Tips About Decision Making

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

    Reference

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