One constant in my management career – and I strongly suspect in many, many others – was that with challenging projects, challenging people, and a host of intractable business problems, there were never enough hours in the day to do what, in a perfect world, needed to be done. Simply put, in management you never have enough time. Accordingly, here are 5 fundamental ways to save time and increase personal efficiency in 2015.
Letting go – Are you delegating all you should be? Are you holding on to things that others on your staff could be doing just as effectively as you? Do you ever bottleneck projects, with others waiting for your decisions and being delayed in the process? The fact is, all really effective executives are also highly efficient delegators. There’s no choice. With multiple projects and priorities swirling around, they have to be… or they wouldn’t be effective.
Keep at bay The Great Devourer of Time – I’m speaking of course of meetings, which have a vast appetite for corporate time… and, as everyone in business knows, are often inefficient. Time wasted in meetings when other projects needed doing was a constant pet peeve of mine in the business world. To the extent you can save time both in those meetings you attend (Do I really need to go? Can I send someone else in my place? Can I find out what I need to in a quick phone call instead?) and those you set up (Do I really need to schedule an hour? Might a half hour do? Or even 15 minutes?), your schedule will thank you for it. Of course some meetings are valuable and essential, no doubt about it. But if you approach them all from a certain skeptical standpoint of operational efficiency, you’ll likely yourself returning useful time to your calendar on a regular basis.
Take time to make time – Sometimes spending extra time in one activity can lead to direct benefits in another. In this case I’m referring to the many benefits of exercising at work. I understand that not all occupations and organizations offer this opportunity, but for those who can do it, it’s a great way to break up the day and return with increased energy and efficiency. I can speak from several decades of experience on this one. I was fortunate to work for years at a company with an on-site fitness center – thus able to run during lunch – and my flagging late-morning energy and attention were always renewed for the afternoon. Time invested in workplace exercise easily pays dividends in productivity – and research has even shown a positive link between exercise and higher salaries.
Clear the decks – Have the discipline to clear your calendar by blocking off several hours at the same time each week as inviolate time for yourself to catch up on whatever it is that most needs catching up on. Take a whole afternoon if you can. People who are inundated by meetings say you’ll never be able to do it. But I know you can. Because I did. As did other executives I worked with too. Suffice to say, it often proved to be the most valuable few hours I spent each week. I was able to concentrate on, uninterrupted, what I most needed to.
No brooding in the rear view mirror – Don’t fret about the past… injustices, problems, interpersonal conflict, projects and outcomes that didn’t go your way. It’s a natural tendency. But focusing unduly on something you probably can’t change anyway is a waste of valuable mental energy. It just slows you down. The faster you focus on what’s ahead of you – with less glancing in the psychological rear view mirror – the more efficiently you’ll move forward.
Time in the world of management is a scarce commodity. But the more you can aggressively manage your own schedule to create time, the more effective you’ll be.
Other personal-efficiency ideas from readers? Always glad to hear them…
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This article was written by Victor Lipman from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.