Step 1 - Pick What To Work OnThe first step is to determine what to work on. With so much to do, it’s important to that your time be spent on only those activities that really matter. Be sure to work on what is truly important and not just urgent. It’s hard to not drop what you are working on in order to deal with the “crisis” of the moment. And there will be times when that is necessary. Just make sure the issue that interrupts you really is important.
So how do you determine what is really important? A good place to start is what your boss is asking for. There are things your boss expects from you: reports, activities, and other deliverables. These should be high on your list. He or she also may ask for special things from time to time. Just be sure to prioritize these special requests appropriately and push back if they would require you to bump something important.
Step 2 - Get StartedIt does not matter how well you have prioritized, nor how good your plan it, unless you actually get started working on the tasks you have identified as important. Stop planning when it’s good enough. Stop talking about how much you have to do and how overloaded you are. Stop wasting time on things that don’t really need to be done. Stop procrastinating and get going on producing results.
Step 3 - Stay FocusedIt all comes down to it's not how hard you work, it's what you get done. Start by planning your day’s work the night before. Outline for yourself what you need to work on tomorrow and then tomorrow work that plan. When you get interrupted or distracted from the plan, work hard to minimize the distraction and get back to your plan. I have a yellow sticky note on my monitor of the top three things I want to get done today. I scratch them off when done. It’s a great visual reminder to me that helps me bring my focus back to my plan.
Remember the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 rule. You’ll get 80 percent of your results from 20 percent of the projects you work on so find those truly important activities and focus on them.
Step 4 - Use All The Tools AvailableFinally, it’s important you take advantage of all the tools available to help you get more done. Time management, self-management, and delegation are important tools for any manager.
My most valuable time management tool is A To Do List That Works. I developed this tool years ago because it works for me. It isn’t going to work for everyone because we all work differently. Try it. See if it helps you. If so, good. If, not, find or develop one that does work. Time management tools are also good for helping you stay focused, as discussed above.
Are you as good at managing yourself as you are at managing others? Do you stay focused on the tasks that are truly important and not just urgent? Do you do your job the best you are able? Or do you cut yourself some slack? Are you harder on your team than on yourself? Don’t forget that a key element of being a good manager is managing yourself.
You can’t make any more hours in the day to help you get more done. And working 80-hour weeks is seldom a workable solution. One thing you can do to gain more time during the day is to offload some of the task that you have been doing onto others. The key here is to Delegate, Not Just Dump. Dumping your work onto others just demotivates them and you end up spending more time correcting the mess than if you had done the work yourself. On the other hand, delegation is a way to help you with your workload, while at the same time training and developing your team members.