In leadership, there is one thing that we never have enough time. Throughout our day-to-day, we feel the desire to remain in control…of everything! We want to have control of our teams, control of our meetings, and most importantly, control over tough situations. However, experienced leaders know that control is not something we can always have. In life, there are circumstances beyond our control. In a rapidly changing environment, we’ve learned that releasing control, establishing trust and delegating can be beneficial. It empowers you and your team members to be the most effective.
What if I told you there’s only one thing you should control? That would be a shock now, wouldn’t it? The most successful leaders know how to manage one thing well. Their own time. It can be easy to fall into the trap of having your time dictated by others, whether it’s meetings, phone calls, or pulling together information or reports from your team. By mastering control of your time, you help not only yourself but also your team and your overall organization as a whole.
Here are a few ways that you can take the reins back when it comes to time management.
Say no to multitasking. You might think that multitasking is the best way to get tasks completed, but in reality, it’s not. By focusing on multiple projects at one time, we can set ourselves up for dropping the ball. When you start working on one task, don’t stop to check your email or team group chat. This will break your concentration and make it harder to re-focus on the task at hand. Dedicating your attention to specific projects will allow you to get the job done at a faster pace with better results. When you can adequately control your tasks, your team will pick up on these task management skills, as well.
It’s ok to delegate. This skill is more important than you will ever know, and the sooner you learn how to do so, the better off you will be. By delegating effectively, you are setting your team up to work confidently. Delegation helps you assess who’s good at what and makes each team member feel valued. At the end of the day, it’s better to excel at fewer tasks than to fail at all of them.
Close your “open door”. Open-door policies are great because they make you look more approachable and available. But, sometimes, this policy can make you less productive. When you need time to work on a task uninterrupted, it’s totally ok to close the door. If you do have an open-door policy, make sure to properly manage expectations when team members stop in. If you always say “yes” to the common phrase “Do you have a second?” you are setting a precedent for constant interruptions the moment someone has a question. If it’s not an urgent matter, table the conversation for a scheduled time during the day; this will help you not only manage your time better but also your team members. Personally, I work on my most important projects after 5 pm. This allows me to remain available to my team yet still provide a time with fewer interruptions.
Use your calendar to your advantage. It can be easy to list your daily tasks on your calendar without genuinely thinking about how much time each project will need. Plan out your day in blocks of time for projects, interruptible tasks, and meetings. Setting your intentions at the beginning of each week, day, or even month helps you better prioritize.
Take time for yourself. Everyone needs some time to take a breath, even the most successful leaders! Working constantly leads to exhaustion and burnout, and it is a top time management killer. If you’re always going, you’ll begin to lose concentration and have less energy to get things done. Scheduling a chunk of time for yourself, like you would a meeting, helps you to re-focus on the task at hand.
Remember, there are some situations and things that are just out of your control, but time is not. By taking back control of your time as a leader, you are not only helping yourself but your team members and ultimately your organization.