The Big Problem of Time-Management

One of the biggest issues all manager’s face and something I get frequent questions about is time-management. How do we gain control of our time and stop allowing people and problems to control us?

In this post, I will look at 3 basics that will help you build a foundation for taking control of your time. In the next couple of weeks, we will delve deeper into some more advanced time-management techniques.

Basics of Time-Management

To begin with, I want to lay the foundations for good time-management. If you want to gain control of your time you need to create a solid foundation. That foundation begins with a good organizational focus in the following areas:

  • Workspace
  • Calendar
  • Priorities

These three areas need to be organized, and made good use of, in order for you to gain control of your time.

Let’s look at each of these three areas in more depth before we look at the five basics of time-management.

Workspace

Let’s begin by looking at your workspace. If you have a dirty, cluttered, and unorganized workspace you will spend more time looking for things you need then getting things done.

So, the first thing you want to do is get your workspace in order. The best way to do this is by scheduling time when you won’t bet interrupted to perform a 5S event in your work area.

5S is a tool used in lean manufacturing to help create a work environment where all tools are organized and readily available where the work is being done. And while it was developed as a way to organized manufacturing areas it can also be used to organize office areas.

I will go more in-depth into 5S for the office in a future blog post but for now, you can check out this Slide Share presentation that does a good job of going into what 5S is and how to implement.

If you can get your work area organized it will give you a solid foundation for having what you need, when you need it, and being able to find everything that is important to do your job.

Calendar

Another key item that is underutilized by most managers is your Outlook or email calendar. Your calendar is the number one tool you can use to prioritize, allocate, and protect your time.

While you can utilize the power of your calendar by use of a paper-based organizer I highly recommend taking advantage of Microsoft Outlook calendar or Google calendar.

The reason I say this is that an online or electronic calendar allows you to communicate your priorities to others. It allows you to immediately show other people when you do and don’t have free time available and better protects your time from interruptions.

Learning how to use your calendar to organize and communicate your schedule is a key component to time-management. Again, we will go into further detail in the coming weeks into how to make the best use of this tool.

Priorities

Finally, we look at something that seems straightforward but is not – priorities. You might think that your priorities are something you just know and don’t need to spend much time on. But how you determine what needs to be a priority and how to rate them is more complicated than you probably realize.

Priorities are a product of your most basic values. And before you can set your priorities you must determine what things to value and put an order to those values.

If you do not have your priorities in line with your values you may end up chasing priorities that are not in line with what you value. When you do this you will end up wasting your time and energy. This will leave you feeling frustrated and exhausted.

To Sum Up This Post

Time-management is one of the biggest issues that a manager struggles with. Too often our time is wasted because we haven’t taken the time to take control of our time. If we build a good foundation for time-management it can set us on the road to making good use of the resources available to use and ensuring that we are spending our time on the right things.

The three basic elements of time management are your workspace, your calendar, and your priorities. And over the next three weeks, we will break down each one of these areas and demonstrate how to make the best use of each.

Go to part 2 – 5S Your Work Space to Get Control of Your Time.