Time Management 101 – Plan Your Week
By Nick McCormick
Being a manager is not an easy job. There is a lot to it. There is never enough time in the day to get everything done. However, to achieve success, you must address the most important things first. Then the other things will fall into place.
The best way to do accomplish this is by planning your week first thing Monday morning. Review your email, schedule, and to-do list. Determine what you need to accomplish for the week. Write the activities down—preferably in your electronic organizer.
How do you determine what is most important? Think about your role. One of your prime functions as a manager is to serve those who get the work done so they can improve their service to the customers. Taking care of the group and helping enhance their performance is important.
But you are not a martyr; you also need to take care of yourself. You and your team members need to learn and grow, so be sure to set aside time each week for yourself and them. You should still have plenty of time left over to dedicate to the other important areas, such as your clients and your boss’s litany of administrative tasks.
Block off time on your schedule for each task. Give yourself extra time for each activity. For instance, if you think it will take you two hours to prepare your budget, allot three. Set aside time to prepare for meetings too. Why? Because one of the main reasons meetings are so unproductive is that the attendees don’t come prepared. Don’t make that mistake. Limit your meetings too. You can’t get anything accomplished if you are in meetings all day.
Once your schedule is set, try very hard to honor it. Changes to the schedule should be the exception rather than the rule. For example, if someone calls to schedule a meeting during the time you planned to work on your staff plan, tell them you can’t do it at that time. Look to your schedule to see if there is another time that is free. If your week is booked, schedule it for the next week. Limit interruptions as well. If someone drops by your office to chat, ask if you can continue the discussion later. Schedule a meeting, if necessary. Turn the chime off on your e-mail. Concentrate on the task at hand.
After accomplishing your most important items throughout the day, if you have free time, pick up something from a future day or a lower priority item from your to-do list. You truly will be amazed at what you get accomplished. Do the same thing the following week.
The following Monday, review your to-do list from the previous week and check off those items you got done. Ideally, most, if not all, the tasks have been completed. For those activities you didn’t finish, ask yourself why you didn’t get to them. Carry the incomplete tasks on to the current week’s list, and then rededicate yourself to improving next week.
Make the commitment to be more effective. Begin by planning out your work week. Do it this Sunday night or Monday morning. The first time, it may take you over an hour to complete. Once you do it a few times, it will take a half-hour or less. It will be the most important half-hour of your week.
Nick McCormick is a Principal with Be Good Ventures, LLC — a management consulting firm. He is author of the book, Lead Well and Prosper: 15 Successful Strategies for Becoming a Good Manager.