Tick. Tock. Tick.
The sound of a clock keeping the beat as the seconds march by may be rare today, but is there anyone who isn’t thinking about time, needing more, wishing for more? The critical issue is time management and its direct impact on productivity at work and in life. To truly take control of the 24 hours in each day requires a fresh approach. It’s time to disregard all the one-sizefits- all advice and systems for time management and to focus on finding what works for you.
We hear it in boardrooms. We hear it at meetings. We hear it at home. “I just wish I had more hours in the day.” But what do we do when we can’t just add hours to the day? And when we’ve cheated sleep all we can at night?
Begin with a dream
Effective and efficient time management is built on dreams and long-term goals. By taking time to think about where you want to go and what you want to attain, you truly understand what is important to you. Your priorities become central to the process of deciding what to do with the next 10 years and the 168 hours in the next week.
The same approach can be used to get results from your team. Employees who are engaged care about their work. When employees can tie their dreams to the work they are doing they are more motivated to do a great job.
This strategy applies to you, the human resources professional who may feel the workday never ends, as well as those in the c-Suite, those in executive offices and those on the factory floor. It’s a struggle to juggle the many pressures and demands on everyone’s time, and having a plan sets your team members on the path to achieving the balance they want in life at work and life away from work.
Looking a decade down the road doesn’t get that presentation written for the office meeting, doesn’t get you through your email inbox and doesn’t answer the phone when your administrative assistant is home with a migraine. The kids still need a ride to soccer practice, the dog still needs to be walked, the laundry still needs to be folded, groceries need to be bought and it’d be great to get in a run. Then there’s the ring, tweet and beep of technology that keeps us connected, distracted and often overwhelmed.
That last paragraph may have your heart racing, and it may seem crazy to suggest that the office team stop and spend time thinking about the future, particularly their future away from the workplace. But this can be key to hiring and keeping employees who are a right fit for their jobs and increasing employee motivation.
The holistic solution to time management involves a reassessment of how to be most productive in the time available. Consider:
• Multitasking. Any attempt to do several things at once – usually relying on several technologies – means something gets short-changed. The result is a mediocre effort on multiple tasks. Keep your attention on one task for a specific period and ignore technology’s ever-present temptations.
• Relaxing. The technology that allows us to monitor texts during office meetings also allows us to browse social media where people go public with their successes, but rarely their failures. The race to keep up with the Joneses only adds to stress levels. Find a way to relax. Stress management is a key to managing time and increasing productivity.
• Delegating. Eliminate or delegate tasks that aren’t your strength or don’t satisfy you. Then you will excel. In a large organization, it often is difficult to get the help you need to delegate effectively. It may be wise to accept resources to delegate instead of a pay raise because your improved focus and productivity may do more for your long-term plan.
• Declining. Build your “no muscle.” One person cannot do everything. You must learn to decline professional, social and familial offers and opportunities that don’t match your priorities. Saying “no” may be uncomfortable at first, but consider the time it frees up for the people and opportunities that are your priorities.
The most effective tools for better time management aren’t anything like a high-tech calendar or a month of 30-minute recipes. The solution is to set clear priorities so choices on how to spend time are clear and productivity increases. Until you know where you are going and what is important to you, no time management system is going to get you there. And once you know where you are going and what is important, you can identify a time management system that gets you to your dream and your team members to their dreams.
Imagine the day everyone on your team knows where they are going and why. What will that mean for the morale and success of your company? Start to think about priorities today because the clock keeps ticking.
R. Shawn McBride is an attorney and business strategist who helps successful business owners build companies that stand the test of time, protecting their wealth for those they work so hard for their family and loved ones. His latest book, “It’s About Time: How to Do More of What Matters in the Time You Have,” focuses on helping busy professionals find time-management answers that work for them.