In our many years of coaching a diverse group of new leaders, aspiring leaders and managers who want to advance in their careers, we’ve noticed a consistent theme: Without effective time management skills, just about everyone will eventually hit a barrier to success.
The plain truth is that anyone who wants to get ahead as a leader needs to learn to maximize their time, because at some point we all hit a limit to what we can accomplish in a day.
For managers and leaders, effective time management isn’t just about making sure you complete your daily tasks in a timely manner. As a leader, you need to gain control of your time so you can make plenty of room in your schedule for the big picture strategic work that is essential to your success.
Unfortunately, many of us go about trying to gain control over time the wrong way. We focus on tactics and tools designed to organize our tasks and schedules. And while these may be helpful, most executive and leadership coaching clients need to do foundational work first.
The critical piece is often developing your self-awareness around time so you can self-monitor effectively. In fact, research suggests this is something we all need, since less than 2% of people assess their own time management skills accurately.
5 ways to improve your time management
Here are a five tips and tactics from The Workplace Coach to help you boost your time management game.
- Track your use of time. Use objective assessment tools and ask others for feedback. After finishing a project, evaluate how long you expected it to take versus how long it actually took.
- When scheduling a project or initiative, ask a neutral party whether your time projection is realistic. Most of us need to add 20% to 30% to our initial time estimates.
- Create a time budget that details how you want to spend your hours during a typical week. Be sure to include those things you’d like to do along with those items that are “must-dos.”
- Make calendar appointments with yourself for important projects, strategic planning and catching up on loose ends.
- Leverage short bursts of effort. For larger tasks, maximize your effort for 15- to 30-minute intervals.
Our habits around time are typically deeply entrenched and can be tough to change. You don’t need to go it alone. Our executive coaching and leadership development programs like Certified Leader Coach® (CLC) support leaders and managers in cultivating essential time management skills and strategies.