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Time Management for Busy Managers

The importance of time management is aptly stated by Peter.F.Drucker as “Time is the scarcest resource of the manager; if it is not managed, nothing else can be managed.”

Absence of time management leads to degradation of performance and dissatisfaction and extreme stress. To manage the time efficiently one has to identify the factors that affect it. Make a task-list to understand how the time utilization is done over a period of time. This helps to keep track of tasks which are useless, and use the time for more productive work.

The four ways to manage work within the constraints of time are :-

Drop it
“No” has to be asserted to prevent ending up as a poor performer and to ensure quality work. Saying “no” to a job is not a sign of incompetence. It, on the other hand, assures quick and quality delivery.

Do it
Prioritise the job in hand on the basis of importance. Dr. Stephen Covey exhorts people to ‘Put First Things First’. Prevent tasks from becoming urgent. Dr. Covey describes an efficient way to prioritize ones time. The first step before prioritizing is to break up the job into smaller tasks. In his book, Dr. Covey illustrates how to prioritize one’s work. Dr. Covey describes four quadrants which has items that are combinations of urgent, important, non-urgent and non-important. Dr. Covey predicts that the tasks that fall into the non-urgent and important quadrant is likely to take a back seat. Once priority is defined, determine deadlines for its completion. Provide for contingencies to avoid unnecessary stress. Organize the workload to have a systematic method of completing the job. Proper filing reduces time wastage.

Delegate it
Get into the habit of asking yourself if what you are doing can be handled by someone else.(F.A.Manske). Delegation if institutionalized well can be an effective way to manage ones time. To improve the quality and quantity of work the first step is to have attainable and realistic objectives. Set the individual goals, and direct them towards the organizational objectives. Then plan the work, clarify responsibilities, understand competencies, communicate the level of authority and accountability, direct, control and motivate to achieve excellent results. Employing the Pareto’s 80/20 rule would be useful. Pareto’s rule states that 80% of tasks done contribute to 20% in value and 20% of tasks done contribute to 80% in value. The key message is to do those tasks that give maximum value, the rest, delegate.

Delay it
Another way of managing time after prioritizing is to delay those which are of least importance. Concentrate on urgent jobs when the mind is fully alert. That said, it is important to again remember Dr. Covey’s advice on tasks that become urgent.

Using Tools
Additionally, software applications that can assist in time management as well as quick execution can be used. Typical such applications come bundled with a standard email client on to which alerts can be set and scheduling can be done. Tasks scheduled thus can be assigned priorities. Looking at the tool one gets a snapshot of the tasks at hand.

Time management is important for everybody, however for busy managers, it is as important as water is to fish. It has to be inculcated and practiced. The key is to identify the right tasks that give the maximum value and execute them flawlessly.

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