5 Time Management Strategies for the Busy Manager

A group of time crunched managers and supervisors were asked, “What is your biggest time management challenge?”  The response was surprising and not what I suspected.  In addition to identifying their biggest challenges, they also came up with recommended time management strategies. 

1.  Drop in visitors and frequent interruptions was the most common time management challenge.  While we like to socialize, and catch up on the latest office news, these distractions are counter-productive.  Many of us work in open work spaces or cubicles where it is easy to have drop in visitors.  However, these frequent companions will take the focus away from our current task.  After the conversation, we need to refocus on our work or move to the next task, which reduces our productivity.

Action – While it is tempting to have a quick conversation with a co-worker, save these conversations for wellness or lunch breaks.  (There is a reason why we are given these breaks in our agreements.) If the query is a work-related issue, schedule a time with them when you can give your undivided attention.  If you are fortunate to have an office with a door, simply close the door.  Other employees have achieved good results by putting up a sign on the back of their chair or office door, “working on a deadline”.  Others have a system such as: “green” for come in and talk, “yellow” I am available for important discussions and have a few minutes; and “red” meaning I am crazy busy.  Choose a system that works best for you.  Co-workers and staff may be intrigued by your time management system and will learn how to respect your time.

2.  Lack of delegation – Many managers and supervisors said that it was easier to do the work themselves rather than train and monitor the work by their staff. Others enjoyed their work and did not want to delegate even though they could have been more productive. Other managers were not ready to let go of specific tasks.

Action – Think of delegation as a way to develop your staff and move tasks off your desk.  Carefully survey your staff according to their skills and abilities and pick tasks that fit within their work descriptions and provide them with a challenge that will stretch them. Spend the necessary time to train and coach them on a new task.  Allow time for questions, monitoring, and feedback.  This process will develop relationships with staff, expand their knowledge and abilities, and move work off of your desktop.

3.  Lack of focus are caused from distractions such as surfing the Internet and social media.  It takes self-discipline to remain focused on a task.  You might be tempted to do research that may result in you going down a rabbit hole looking at non-related websites and social media.

Action – Set a goal to get a specific task completed within a certain time.  Periodically remind yourself of the completion time.  Turn off notifications from your email and delete any apps to keep you on target.  Put the phone on answer mode and check for messages after the urgent and most important tasks are completed.   Be sure to reward yourself after the task is completed by a quick update on social media or a favorite website assuming that it is on your own time.

4.  Poor Oral and Written Communications break down working relationships and waste time. Hastily written messages are misinterpreted which can lead to misunderstandings whereas a quick phone call can easily address the issue.  Excessive emails and text messages create pressure to respond to the sender immediately.  There is less face to face communication and reading a text message or email does not have the benefit of observing facial expressions and body language.

Action – Have regular agenda driven meetings with tight time lines so that staff members can provide updates.  Take writing courses to strengthen clarity and conciseness in messages.  Practice effective oral communication techniques such as planning the intent of the conversation, the reason, the ideas, and then speaking.  Practice active listening techniques to listen, pause, confirm, tell, and end the conversation.

5.  Disaster Desk is a concern for many people since they are often searching for items on their physical workspace or computer.

Action -  Take two hours before a long weekend and remove everything off of your desk.   Gradually review each item and return it to its place.  Return items to their “home” after they are used.  Set up a pending file for items that are current.  Set up regular computer and paper files for projects and keep them up to date.  Keep files on the desktop that will be used in the next month, three months’ file close by, and six months in a filing cabinet away from the desk.  Archive files at least once a year. 

Other time wasters included excessive emails, working on several non-related projects at the same time, and procrastination. Each time waster involves a specific strategy to deal with it. The bottom line comes down to making the current task your priority and this can be completed through self-discipline.


Back to News List