Have you ever experienced the mind-boggling fatigue that comes at the end of a workday, feeling that you did not accomplish your tasks or get much work done? Why does this happen to well-educated, well-trained, and well meaning supervisors?
If you are feeling that your daily goals are not met, or that you are always skipping between tasks, or facing many interruptions, then you are not employing the use of effective time management skills. However, there is help. Here are three pieces of the time management puzzle.
Begin with a plan and map it out in a planner
The planner may take many shapes and forms: for some the planner will be the old-fashioned pen and paper where you write down all the tasks you need to finish in your day; for others it will be a new and sophisticated computer-generated plan that tracks all your daily movements.
Regardless of your preference, ensure that the planner has your day broken down by hour and minute along with a calendar so that you can see your future. With a plan in place, you’ll never miss another appointment because of forgetfulness.
Your time is a valuable resource that you must map out. Effective time management skills using a plan lets you see how you are using your time, why you aren’t accomplishing your tasks, and where to improve.
Determine the priorities of your supervisory work life
Setting your goals with a plan in place is the first step, but then you have to prioritize your duties. You’ll never have to recall which important tasks need to be done tomorrow, as you divide your activities in order of importance. Your strategy of effective time management means simply looking up all your written activities and scheduling each new activity as they come down the pipeline.
Prioritizing means you do not have to leave things to the last minute. Your daily, weekly and monthly plan is a resource that blocks out significant chunks of time which can help you concentrate on immediate goals. Your planner is your ally.
It enables you to do the most important things first. It gives you a grid to say ‘yes’ to tasks and issues that will profit your area of supervision and ‘no’ to those things that will detract from your desired end results. Remember, effective time management skills are not learnt overnight. As every great building in the world is constructed one piece at a time, your effective time management skills in your life are formed and fashioned one by one. The first piece is to obtain the use of a planner. The second piece is to use that planner to prioritize those tasks and issues that reach your goals.
Setting priorities in order. The A, B, C, method of prioritization is probably the easiest to implement. When you write down a task in your planner, give it a priority level for completion.
- ‘A’ tasks may be items that have a due date on or near today. They may be items that have been given to you by your boss. They may also be items that relate specifically to your professional goals.
- ‘B’ tasks need to be finished on schedule, but are not essential to work on immediately, and can potentially be finished tomorrow. These tasks relate to what is important but not critical to your goals.
- ‘C’ tasks are not critical to your success. If you don’t accomplish these tasks on schedule or in a short time frame, then there is little impact. Delaying C tasks are not going to hurt you or anyone else.
Make every minute count
Your planner has now given you a snapshot of your schedule – a picture of what you need to accomplish in your day. If you know from the beginning of the day that you must have a meeting with one of your staff, this is an ‘A’ activity. Do not procrastinate, just do it. You have already determined the importance level of the task. Don’t waste another moment available to you. Simply get it done according to the schedule that you have laid out.
Once an activity is on your list, never forget that it is there, even if it is a B or a C task. Realizing the importance of how you manage your time and activities means seizing your opportunities and following a process to streamline how you reach your goals as a supervisor.
Effective time management skills are available to everyone but not everyone will become an effective time manager. You have what it takes to put these three pieces into action into your daily life in order to gain mastery over your time.
The clock is ticking!