Time management in the area of leadership is big business. We are often told that people who use time management techniques are the highest achievers, the suggestion being that, if you use these skills, then you will be successful. If only it were that easy. Likewise, at the moment, there appears to be a badge of honour for leaders who work 18-hour days and never switch off. Both are common misconceptions. Being in control of your time is a real skill and clearly some leaders are better at it than others.
Stephen Covey, who most of you will have heard of, defined four time-management approaches a leader can use:
- First generation – reminders on clocks and watches – now smartphone and laptop reminders
- Second generation – planning and goal setting based on a diary system
- Third generation – planning, prioritising, controlling activities on a day to day basis
- Fourth generation – being efficient and proactive using all of the above tools
Clearly, most successful leaders aim for the fourth level. Ideally, a leader needs to understand and apply the often quoted statement
“concentrate on results, not on being busy.”
Many leaders fill up their day with work but achieve little – is that how you feel? This is because you are not focusing on the right things. How many times do you:
- Get interrupted by others
- Interrupt other people for a chat
- Over rely on email
- Try to do more than one thing at once
- Run or attend pointless meetings (meetings without a clear purpose)
- Surf the web breaks
- Forget to do things
- Get easily distracted
- Have trouble saying no
- Have an untidy desk
If the answer to any of these is yes my advice would be to pick one at a time and work on improving it.
So how do we manage our tasks? I am sure that you have seen the model below:
Most leaders spend most of their time on sections 1, 3 and 4 while section 2 is the best place to focus on. Section 3 is where quality leadership happens.
If you would like to see more about how we can help existing and aspiring leaders and their time management please click here
If you would like to find out how we can improve the time management of your and your staff please contact us