One of the growth area’s that I have identified for myself during this year is time management, in other words, getting grip on my time as much as possible. Family time, work-life balance, conducting meetings without fail, honouring others time, starting and stopping meetings on time, working on important things rather than urgent things and investing my best in what matters the most, creating and guarding the organization culture and building strong leaders are few focus areas for now. This article reflects some of my learnings and insights to date and thoughts that I have developed after reading a few books and listening to some of the great leaders.
Time is beyond our control, and the clock keeps ticking regardless of how we lead our lives. Everyone’s busy these days and life shows no sign of slowing down. I don’t think we can manage time because it goes on. However, to make the best use of the time you don’t manage time but you manage yourself and your priorities. Priority management is the answer to maximizing the time we have. Time stewardship is perhaps a leader’s greatest responsibility. In the words of Peter Drucker, “Nothing else distinguishes effective executives as much as their tender loving care of time.”
Time is our most valuable, non-replenishing resource. We can always make more money, but we cannot make more time. If we would like to have a strong marriage, raise strong and grounded children and have a most satisfying professional career then we must learn to use our time wisely. Effective use of time is one of life’s most important skill and the problem is that formal education don’t teach this generally and most of the parents rarely model the time management for their kids. Poor time management results in well-intentioned leaders who consistently allow the urgent to overwhelm the important. Chances are you know someone like this or chances are you may be someone like this. Have you ever felt like there are so many things to do? Do this and this and this and all are urgent. We can’t get to important things since the urgent things overrule the important things. As long as urgent overrules the importance we will never be effective as leaders.
Schedule your values. Prioritize what is most important to you in your calendar. Good time management doesn’t mean you do more, it means you do more of what matters most. Let me repeat this so that you can internalize it better -Good time management doesn’t mean you do more, it means you do more of what matters most. It means you are doing more things which don’t matter to you and less of things which do matter to you. You may say the family is important to me and I would like to have a good time with my kids but you are overwhelmed with work. You may be thinking so long that you wish you could read but you are overwhelmed with other things. You will get frustrated If you are not doing the things you value the most. In other words, the difference between the values you embrace and the life you live equals the frustration you experience.
Determine your incontestable Items —they go on the calendar first. Invest your best in what matters most. Always remember we all have time to do what we choose to have time to do. You are in control of everything. You make the choices. Chances are many of us are doing a lot of things we don’t have to do. So what are your non-negotiable or incontestable items? Workouts? Family? Meeting with leadership team? Creating and guarding the culture? Identifying, equipping and empowering leaders?
Identify the activities you value. The greatest time management tool from the 19th century economist Vilfredo Pareto. The Pareto Principle states that if we devote our energy, time, and resources to the top 20% of our priorities, we’ll achieve 80% of the results we desire. The Pareto principle also is known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. It means 20% of what you do accounts for 80% of your nonnegotiables. Hence invest your best in what matters the most.
Increasing our margin time. The margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating. It is the opposite of overload. Margin time is very important since your best ideas happen during this time. When you are rushed and every activity seems so urgent then you don’t have time to reflect or dream or think big. Best ideas always come from margin time. Hence we need to protect our margin time.
- Try to have the impromptu meetings in someone else’s office. Because if they are in your office it is hard to get them to leave. But if you go to their office as soon as you are done you can walk out
- Limit the length of your appointments. Tell them up front how long you can spend time for this meeting. Be honest and real about it and stick to the timelines.
- Don’t take calls or text during the day. Avoid them as much as possible so that your momentum would not breakdown.
- Validate and reduce your meeting times and frequencies
Say ‘NO’ to many small things to say ‘YES’ to a few big things. People don’t pay for average. If your skill level is a 2, don’t waste substantial time trying to improve because you’ll likely never grow beyond a 4. However, if you’re a 7in an area, hone that skill, because when you become a nine, you’ve reached a rare level of expertise. As Jim Sundberg says, “Discover your uniqueness; then discipline yourself to develop it.”
Identify your major time wasters and work to eliminate them. Everyone falls prey to certain time wasters, based on personality or work habits. Use your time log to discover yours. Then target and try to eliminate one each week. We are living in an era where we need to start maintaining to don’t list besides a to-do list to avoid all the distractions offered by technology.
The barrier to a meaningful life for most leaders is not a lack of commitment but overcommitment. Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you’re doing the right things. If you are an entrepreneur or in a start-up space then you get a lot of ideas. Just because you have a good idea doesn’t mean it’s the right idea. The question that we want to ask is should we do this instead of can we do this? Just because you can do something does not mean you should do something. Do the things which give you the highest return on your time and energy investment.
Create virtual deadlines for increased effectiveness. Setting these deadlines forces you to make decisions and tackle projects more aggressively. People move more quickly when a deadline is closer. Virtual deadlines help you do three things: make decisions faster, delegate what others can do, and eliminate what you shouldn’t be doing in the first place. You’ll get better results with less effort.
Delegation is the key. If you delegate tasks, you’ll build followers who only do what they’re told. If you delegate authority, you’ll build leaders. You don’t find great leaders—you build great leaders. How do you keep great leaders? You let them lead. The less you do has a big impact on your organization, and that is the same with an organization as a whole. The best organizations do a few things, and they do them well.
I am sure you will agree when I say that the crucial parts of the flight are the take-off and landing. They’re the most dangerous, and the most complicated. As a leader, you have an opportunity to involve yourself in the most important milestones of the project. Therefore, the best way of delegation is following the 10-80-10 Principle. For any project, divide the total process (100%) into the first 10%, the middle 80%, and the last 10%. Then, involve yourself in the first and last 10%. The middle 80% should be carried by your team. You add value to the first 10% in order to get the project started on the right track. Then you hand it off to the team. Later you interact a little bit with them, but not much. It’s really your team’s baby. After the team has taken the project almost to completion, you dive back in again to validate the final outcome and find ways to add value in the final 10%.
Heartsill Wilson said, “God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it – or use it for good, but what I do today is important, because I am exchanging a day of my life for it!” When you open your eyes tomorrow morning, remind yourself that it holds incredible possibilities. You can allow that day to slip away from you, or you can use it to make things happen. The choice is yours.
- What are the things you value most that you are not doing?
- What are you going to do to change it?
- What do you need to add to your “to-don’t” list? What are your three most important issues that have been crowded out by urgent issues?
- Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast – It’s about time Part 1 & 2
- Get a Grip on Time by Dan Rockwell @ American Management Association
- John C Maxwell Blog
- Success: One Day At A Time – John C Maxwell