How can you do more with less? It’s a question every cultural professional has to struggle with. There’s no sugar coating it, it's tough, potentially impossible but we must find ways of dealing with increased pressures and fewer resources.
The fundamental answer starts with you, because what used to work no longer will but the good news is, you can find those answers, and it isn’t rocket science.
By building your own capabilities you can use your time more efficiently. This week therefore I’m looking at Time Management!
There is of course an entire industry built around how you can get more done in the time available. You probably have your own methodologies. What I want to do here is look at first principles.
First step is to be conscious of how you ACTUALLY spend your time. Keep a record of what you actually do and how long each activity takes. It doesn’t have to be precise to the second but be honest and meticulous then consider:
Which of these activities were useful?
Could I have managed this work more effectively?
How much time have I spent worrying about my workload?
What habits have I noticed?
Are there any surprises in there?
If you did things differently could you get more of the IMPORTANT things done?
This is where you have to face up to the reality of what you do each and every day.
If you are under stress there may be a lot of “comfort activities” which make you feel better without actually dealing with the underlying truth of your situation.
My big issue is web surfing. I tell myself I’m taking a break or I’m gathering my thoughts when in reality I want to find out what the latest football transfer gossip is. Don’t beat yourself up but be honest about how often and why you do this.
This might be tough but have courage, you can do it, take the next step.
Think about what is important and what is not.
Your job in this context, especially if you are in leadership is to ask one question:
“Is what I am doing helping me/my team/my organisation achieve its purpose/goal/vision?”
Go through your To Do list and test each task against that question.
The Eisenhower Matrix (below) is a great tool for this.
Place each of those tasks in one of the boxes below.
Now time-block your way through the following week.
Schedule into your diary when you will do these tasks.
Now you can get those fancy To do list apps working on your phone!
I appreciate I’m scraping the surface here but I hope this helps you think afresh about how you manage your work.