Time management isn’t merely an art – it’s an entire artistic discipline. Being a manager is tough – no argument there! Sometimes, during a normal day, little fires spark up that inevitably change the entire trajectory of your team’s work. Learning how to prioritize your needs, the needs of your team members, and those of the business as a whole is one of the first steps to effectively managing the entire team’s day. But how are you supposed to manage all of those little fires, while still making sure your team members are being productive, or that you’re being productive?
Block Off Time
In nearly all professional offices, whether providing services to the public or not, there can be so much going on at any given time that getting anything accomplished can be next to impossible. It’s easy to understand why you might not be feeling productive. But no matter how many distractions, it’s vital to your team and your company as a whole to understand the value of protected, or blocked, time. Schedule blocks of time in which no members of the team schedule anything else.
Each blocked time frame is to be used for projects that have little to no time already delegated. In addition to blocked times, schedule unblocked times – these are the perfect way for your team to be able to meet with you, in small groups or one-on-one, for questions, discussions, or anything else that warrants your undivided attention.
When scheduling these blocks of time, make sure to schedule some blocks for yourself. Use these blocks for anything pertinent to you – your welfare, or your personal projects or errands. Especially if it is completely unrelated to work. But if you have projects that are falling behind, blocking time can mean holing yourself up with absolutely no distractions. You’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish by simply closing your email window and placing your cell on airplane mode.
Create a Calendar
To schedule these blocked and unblocked times, you must establish a team calendar. Depending on how large your company is, you might schedule a few weeks or months out. Some companies schedule further – one, two, or even five years in advance. Planning your company’s future isn’t a perfect forecast, but it gets everyone on the same page.
One-on-One Meetings With Team Members
One of the first items that should be placed on your company or project calendar are blocks for team meetings. One-on-one meetings should be scheduled, as well, or at least blocks of time in which team members can come to you alone to ask a question or clear the air. At least once per month, one-on-one meetings should be scheduled with every member of your team.
When you’re putting together the calendar for the current month, take a couple days each week to schedule back-to-back one-on-ones – this way you remain accessible and are able to monitor things such as employee productivity, morale, and overall satisfaction. Back-to-back scheduling also helps ensure you stick to your overall schedule without breaking up your day.
Stand-up meetings, in which participants literally stand up, are a great way to maintain accessibility to your team and to say what needs saying in a short and concise manner. While a fantastic tool for gauging productivity and ensuring your team members are on the same page, a common employee complaint regarding stand-up meetings is that the information could have been relayed by email.
This is a valid complaint to an extent, as the purpose of the meeting should not be overshadowed by the reality that some employees resent being forced to stand while you speak. They may also feel like your “productivity meeting” is harming their productivity. Too often, even emails that are sent with a high-priority tag can go unread for hours, and in the event of a missed deadline that could lead to disaster.
Stand-up meetings can be an invaluable tool when used properly. Don’t have them too frequently or infrequently, as neither approach obtains your desired results. Once you develop the proper rhythm for your specific team, make sure to keep the stand-up meetings brief.
One of the main reasons why stand-up meetings are preferred by management actually has to do with the physiological effects they have on a person – or rather don’t have. Sit-down meetings that last for more than 30 minutes can lose a person’s interest. Stand-up meetings that last longer than the person can comfortably stand do much the same thing. Find your team’s sweet spot – maybe once a week, for 15 minutes.
Stand-up meetings, especially because of their brevity, require a follow-up to be sure everyone understood the content, as well as to be sure that everyone has a chance to respond or to offer other ideas not presented during the meeting.
Learn to Re-prioritize Effectively – All Day Long
Being a manager of a company of any size proves to you just how hard it is to attach a job description to your position. Every day is completely different than the one before. Hectic? Maybe. Exciting? Definitely.
One of the parts of your position that may make you feel like nothing ever gets done is the near-constant necessity of reprioritizing. Recognizing the importance of prioritizing in time management makes you an effective manager. Tackle each item as it comes. When you can discern between an object of importance and an object “on fire,” you see the productivity of your entire team escalate. One of the best attributes of a great manager is the ability to lead. Working as a team and leading your teammates to victory is a good feeling, indeed.
Prioritizing throughout the day means recognizing each and every step of any procedure. Each step must be done in order for the entire project to reach completion. Think of each project as a mountain. If you chip away at the mountain with a hammer, chunks’ll fall this way and that. One of the marks of a good team leader is seeing all those chunks laying all over the ground and yet knowing exactly how to put them back together again – how to get the job done. Next time your team sees a project as a huge mountain of tasks, use the situation to help them see the importance of prioritizing in time management. Help them “chunk it down” into the smaller projects. Even the minuscule tasks have to be done to see a project to fruition.
Learn How to Delegate
As a manager, you might feel that everything in your department rests solely on your shoulders. On the contrary, you really don’t have to do it all. Maybe the reason you’re in a management position is because you like to take on the world. Even so, you’ve been given a role in management because you’re good at managing. You recognize the importance of time management at work. Within your department are likely several smaller areas that could each be their own small department. Designate a head for each of the smaller departments. Help individuals in the smaller department learn to implement a time management policy.
Implementing a time-tracking application can also help you better understand where time is being lost and what can be done to effectively improve time management at work. Did you know you can even integrate TSheets with QuickBooks? Over 5.6 million small businesses use QuickBooks Online for accounting, invoicing, payroll & a lot more. Get QuickBooks Online Now.