Time Management: Hey Buddy, Can You Spare Some Time?

A stopwatch on a racetrack, representing time management

Spare time is not something of which managers have in abundance. So today, we'll discuss the importance of time management.

We have been talking about how managers have two jobs: their first job is doing their job; their second job is managing their direct reports.

Two full-time jobs disguised as one, along with an expectation for exceptional performance in both.

Which means the more effectively and efficiently they can do their job, the more available time they have to spend with their folks.

And the more effectively and efficiently they spend their time with their folks, the more available time they will have to do the jobs. See the connection here?

Let’s spend the next few weeks focussing on two critical principles: understanding how to be most effective in doing a job and then turn our attention to methods for ensuring effective management.

Years of experience have taught me that many of us – and I have frequently been guilty of this – overestimate how much we can accomplish in a given block of time. We also tend to overestimate how much time we have in which to get things done.

There is an old axiom that, if we heed its wisdom, can guide us how best to plan, manage and execute with optimal efficiency: I can do anything, I just can’t do everything.

Words well worth remembering.

Time Management is Just Simple Math

Today I would like to outline a problem common to us all.

Let’s use basic arithmetic as our guide to understand what we can reasonably expect to accomplish in each day.

Let’s assume we plan on being at work from 8AM to 5PM.

We have nine hours available in which to get things done.

Nine hours – tons of time to do lots of work. Right?

Assuming we plan for a 60-minute lunch-hour and two 15-minute washroom and coffee breaks, we now have 7 ½ hours of available time.

As we view our schedule, we notice we have three meetings booked through the day, each scheduled for one hour.

We are left with 4 ½ hours of available time.

Before you begin to plan that time, let’s keep in mind that our day, like most, will contain several unscheduled interruptions.

If we allow these to cumulatively total one hour (and we know from experience that this is probably a very conservative estimate), we now have 3½ hours with which to do our regular jobs and manage our folks.

As we review our list of things to do, we realize how few can be completed in the remaining available time, which means if we use that time to tackle these tasks, we have no remaining time to address our other job.

And if we devote part of those 3½ hours to our direct reports, we will then have even less time to do our own jobs.

Suddenly, that nine-hour date no longer seems like adequate time to get lots done.

What Does Your Day Look Like?

So, ask yourself this question. How am I supposed to stay ahead of everything expected of me in my job and provide exquisite management and leadership to my staff when I really have only three hours each day within which to accomplish all this?

Do I need to shift my hours so that I now work from 7 AM to 6 PM? Will those extra two hours give me enough time?

Should I plan on being at work 12 hours each day to just stay in one place without getting ahead?

These are all great questions, ones we all face, often without realizing the arithmetic applies to us all.

If it really is all about the arithmetic, come back next week when we discuss how to do the math.

Till we read again.

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