Picture this: You’re managing a team of eight, and each one of them is working on multiple projects. As their leader, you’re challenged with not only ensuring the completion and quality of their work, but completing your own separate to-do list. So how can you possibly find the time to accomplish everything you need to do?
Time management is something with which we all struggle, especially when we’re constantly juggling multiple projects. It’s hard to decide where and when you need to spend your time; however, something as simple as creating blocks in your schedule – and devoting each block to one aspect of your job that needs attention – can help you break down your work into an easier, more efficient time management process.
1. Decide where you need to invest: Time management is about knowing what to prioritize, when. Ask yourself: “What do you need to accomplish this week, and how much time will it take?” Imagine the blocks of time as money – spend it where you need it most.
2. Set goals for each block: Stretch your “dollars” by giving yourself specific time limits for tasks – knowing the clock is ticking can help you stay focused. Allocating time exclusively for each task may actually lead you to complete them faster. If for some reason you don’t finish a task, adjust your schedule accordingly. The blocking can also be helpful when rearranging tasks, particularly if you’ve kept a close handle on what to prioritize.
3. Block off time for each employee: Your employees are the most important blocks in your schedule – check in with them on a weekly basis. Make sure they feel comfortable coming to you with challenges and asking for extra face time if they need it. This has the added benefit of keeping you apprised of when their tasks will be complete, which will help inform your own schedule and manage your time more efficiently.
4. Communicate your scheduling blocks clearly: Physically mark the time on your calendar when you are busy, so others know when you’re available. Additionally, communicate to your team when you’re going to be reviewing their work, so they can schedule their own projects accordingly.
5. Block off time for you: When it comes to time management, it’s important to leave some time for yourself. A study of top performers by Professor K. Anders Ericsson and other researchers at Florida State University showed that energy and focus starts to flag after 90 minutes – and that taking time to relax actually results in rejuvenation and renewed attention. In other words, taking breaks throughout the day can actually make you more productive in the long run. Mark off your lunch and break times – and treat them as you would any other meeting – mandatory, barring an emergency.
Managing a team and completing your own work can be difficult, but breaking it down into manageable blocks can give you the structure you need to achieve your goals.
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