How to better manage your most important resource: time
As a leader, you may feel as if you never have enough time. Even when we finally get into a good routine, something drastic happens, forcing us change it.
A leader's time is constantly pulled in different directions, including dealing with and thinking about:
The macro environment
Understanding how your teams are working
Communicating with clients
Building new products and services
Preparing for the future
How much cash you have
My general direction to senior (non-technical) leaders is you should spend no more than 70% of your time in meetings, and doing real work for the remaining 30% plus of your time.
You also need to build in flexibility to your time allocation. Stuff happens you can’t plan for. That’s life. So you need ‘free’ blocks for that. And it might be up to 25% of your time. You will never be ‘free’, just flexing to do the most important priorities.
If your calendar does not align with this, it may be time to look at your calendar.
Here are four simple steps you can take to better manage your time. They've worked for me:
1) Outline your top priorities. No fewer than five and no more than eight. Once done, work out the number of hours needed to accomplish each one. Review regularly. I use Sunday evenings to think this through for the week ahead against a longer term gameplan
2) Include time to 'get stuff done'. After you've allocated time to achieve your priorities, allow some time every day to just 'getting stuff done' or to deal with issues that arise.
3) Limit stresses and allow for downtime. Determine what time of the day or evening you are going to switch off and stick to it. No phone calls or emails unless it's a real emergency. Also, if you have an item in your day which is necessary, but you really don’t enjoy it, set a limit. This could be something like outgoing calls or engaging with clients or suppliers.
4) Review your calendar. Once you have put together your weekly calendar, review it and ask yourself a simple question. Does this calendar bring you joy? If not, you may need to review it further and make changes.
TAKEAWAY: As a leader, if the answer is No to the question 'Does my calendar bring me joy?' it's time to start better managing your time.