You would think that by the time people find themselves in senior roles they have mastered foundational skills such as time management – not necessarily true.
How many senior people do you know that cannot get their important work done in business hours, while finding plenty of time for day-to-day tactics?
Here are some tips that can help shift the allocation of time from tactical to strategic:
1) Put long-term strategic actions on to-do list
- Although there are always urgent tasks to prioritize, highly effective people make time to prioritize proactive tasks such as strategy, improvements, problem prevention and long-term project work.
- Review your prioritized list once a week and move the things that need to be done into your calendar for the upcoming week.
2) Put short-term strategic actions on calendar
- Use your calendar to schedule time for proactive work. Block time using the actual project/task title vs. a generic label such as “work time”. This way when you say “yes” to things, you know what you are saying “no” to – and you will make better decisions as a result.
3) Eliminate interruptions
- Eliminate interruptions when doing difficult work. Resist the urge to check your e-mail or answer calls during this time.
- Turn off your e-mail notifications, so that you no longer get “pop-ups” letting you know that another e-mail has landed in your inbox.”
- Reset people’s expectations of how long it will take you to respond if necessary.
4) Learn to “say no” – with finesse
The next time you get asked to do something, consider the following range of options:
- Yes! (When it is clearly higher priority than what you would be giving up).
- Find a more expedient way to achieve the objective.
- Offer to do just the part of the task that has the most value, or that cannot be done by someone else.
- Suggest a different person.
- Negotiate a longer timeframe to get it done.
- Do it on the proviso that something else will be done later or not at all.
- Help the person become self-sufficient by showing them how to do it themselves.
- Consider saying “no”, with an explanation of why.
5) Delegate operational activities
- Appoint owners for operational activities. Coach them as required but don’t “own” their problems.
- If people come to you when they should be dealing with your staff, redirect them to the right people and avoid being a conduit for all work that happens in your team.
- Delegation requires performance management – make sure that you are proficient on the 3 main performance management skills: goal setting, giving recognition and giving corrective feedback.
Russel Horwitz, Principal