Congratulations!

Your elevation means;

  1. Your hard work has paid off
  2. Your organization has identified your potential to add more value than what you have been doing so far
  3. That not only your technical & job skills are sufficient for you to succeed, but you also have the skills, mindset & attitude to help others success

You have more responsibilities now.

More responsibilities mean more challenges.

And in today’s fast-paced world of changes, time becomes even more crucial. There are more demands on your time, while you still only have 24 hours available a day.

Besides, you are not only responsible for your time, but you are also responsible for the time of your team members.

Initially, you may be enthusiastic about impressing everyone and taking up more than you can handle.

Over time, such enthusiasm can get a bit overwhelming. Too much stress can affect your performance in the long run. After all, you want to be effective & successful leader for an extended period to come, not just in the short term, right?

There are many strategies and techniques prescribed, there so many time management apps, sometimes even those can become a bit overwhelming.

Why don’t we start with three straightforward, basic, but very effective strategies? They are useful not only because they are simplistic, but because they involve the right mix of technique and mindset. These strategies don’t only work at the superficial level, but also impact, change & evolve our habits, resulting in improved behavior.

Impact of such techniques is long-lasting.

We call these techniques “The d-Triangle” at ForwardSprint.

And those three techniques are;

 

Delete

We assume you have been using some task management tool. It can be an app, a paper-based to-do list, sticky notes, but something, to record & schedule your activities.

If you are not using one, please start using it today.

If we have to recommend a few, you can get a list of a few tools here;

But you won’t be able to get everything you do on your to-do list.

After all, you don’t schedule Facebook browsing, do you?

Such activities are mostly mindset problems or issues of habit & discipline.

They are the biggest time wasters. They reduce the hours from your day.

You have to identify and remove such activities. You will need to be mindful and first about them. There are tools & apps available which can identify the time you spend on such events and can proactively warn you about them. The iPhone has one such app built-in. No matter how, but you need to get rid of (or at least reduce) such activities. Pay close attention to all such unscheduled events where you spend time, and if they are not fruitful in any manner, delete them.

But what about scheduled activities?

As a leader, your area of influence has increased. Your touchpoints have increased. There may be demands from various quarters for your time, for different activities.

Have a close look at such requests. Are there activities where you won’t be adding any value? Are there any activities which don’t add any value? Can you either excuse yourself from such actions?

Probably meetings will be top of such lists. Not all meetings are wasteful, but they might be taking more time than required. Can you think of ways of eliminating such meetings or at least time-box the meetings, but setting appropriate agendas and then ensuring that the discussions don’t go off-the-track?

Think similarly for any activity that can come in your to-do list. Learn the art of saying no when appropriate. Find out a way to reduce the time spent. A critical, objective look may free up a lot of your time.

Delay

Activities which remain after deletion, need to be prioritized.

But how you prioritize is very important.

You may tend to prioritize your activities in the order that they come. Or you may be working on activities which become urgent, irrespective of whether they are essential or not. (Ref. Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix)

One of the new managers we were working with used to prioritize based on the simplicity of the tasks. Simple tasks first, complex tasks later. We don’t need to say that this manager soon got into trouble with a lot of critical, complex tasks pending.

Instead of such arbitrary criteria, you should prioritize for effect. Which activities are going to add the most value to you, to your team, and your organization? Do those first. Arrange your activities in order of diminishing importance.

This way, you will be able to make a difference earlier on.

Delegate

Delegation is not just a time management technique. It is also an excellent way to develop your team.

Identify the activities which can be done by others on your team. Delegating such activities will free up your time. And if done correctly, it can mean additional challenge resulting in motivation for your team members.

Of course, you might need to train your team member to do such activities right. But you will find that such training is very fruitful, especially for repeating activities.

But are these techniques sufficient?

These three are very basic, easy techniques, but they are also a must for effective leaders. There are several other tools & techniques which can complement your efforts on these three areas to perform such activities. And you should be exploring those regularly.

However, your time management efforts do not stop here. Remember, now you are responsible for your team’s time to. You should also teach and encourage them on effective time management techniques.

You can also use automation & intelligent assistants (if they are available for the right job). One of the companies where we were helping improve project execution productivity had several tasks for stakeholder reporting. There were quite a few categories of stakeholders, and each of them required reports in different formats & at different frequencies. However, ultimately, they used to contain the same information. Earlier, the team used to create each report individually & manually. We introduced automation by using tools like Zapier to facilitate data flow between the system, which then generated & distributed the reports automatically at different schedules. This simple automation saved around 2 hours every week for the team and helped them spend more time on activities which directly provided more customer value. The possibilities are endless here.

If you spend time on meaningful activities, it will make you happy & productive, your teams effective and add value to your business. Isn’t it what we all want?