5 Practical Time Management Activities for New Managers to Help Efficiently Structure Their Time Between Team Members, Board Meetings, and Their Own Tasks
In your previous operational role, you were likely provided with specific tasks to do, and you did them. Over the years, you’ve naturally become accustomed to being tasked with a project, and delivering results, and that’s why it can be quite different and even a bit overwhelming when transitioning into a managerial position; a position where you not only have your own tasks to complete, but also a team to lead, and a board to satisfy.
If it feels like you’re being pulled in all different directions, you’re certainly not alone: Forbes reports that nearly one quarter of leaders cite time as their biggest challenge.
The Importance of Time Management
In 2016, business executives ranked time management skills as the 7th most critical workforce skill, according to a report by IBM. Just two years later, this had risen up through the ranks to become the 2nd most vital skill, falling just short of flexibility.
A report by insights firm Deloitte delves deeper into the importance of time management activities, stating that ‘unusual time pressure can make even the smartest person seem incompetent’, suggesting managers are more likely to make mistakes or poor decisions when feeling up against the clock. If you’re keen to demonstrate competence and management skills to the board to justify your promotion, and instill confidence in your team, working on your time management skills is key. But how can you improve these skills?
Practical Time Management Activities
Searching for ‘time management skills’ online often produces results such as ‘life hacks’ and technology. However, there are concerns with these approaches. ‘Life hacks’ suggest the need to take shortcuts, which isn’t a sustainable practice and which isn’t likely to provide you with the long term skills you need to manage your team with confidence. And while technology such as scheduling apps can work, they are less likely to produce positive outcomes if you don’t have the underlying talents required when building a good team culture.
Instead, it can be more effective to use these five practical time management activities:
Time Management Activity 1: Make a List
“What is happening in a lot of ways is because of blurring lines of work and personal that technology has now brought into our lives, it’s really hard to stay focused on the main thing, so the very first thing we tell organisational leaders is think about the mission of your organisation, and then set aside all else,” says Deloitte Researcher Kelly Monahan. Making a list of both core business activities and complementary tasks can make it easier to prioritise the urgent and create greater transparency in your workload.
Time Management Activity 2: Map Your Week
Research undertaken amongst students found that those who had a greater understanding of the use of their time felt more in control of their tasks, reported less tension, and had a perceived lower workload than those who didn’t understand how their time was being utilised. It can be beneficial to use a calendar app to visualise and map out your week, creating specific blocks of time for specific tasks. Of course, the unexpected can pop up, but having a plan works to put you in the driver’s seat.
Time Management Activity 3: Get to Know Your Team
Taking the time to get to know your team better - particularly their strengths and weaknesses via a skill gap analysis - can help you to free up your time by moving away from the micromanaging approach. If you don’t know your team, you won’t be able to trust them to work independently, which can leave you with less time to communicate and collaborate with the board. Knowing the capabilities of your employees can also enable you to delegate the right tasks to the right people, balancing your workload.
Time Management Activity 4: Challenge the Status Quo
The business may have its own established ways of working that your team are accustomed to. But as a new manager, you have the advantage of coming in with a fresh pair of eyes, providing an opportunity to remove inefficiencies and develop new processes and procedures that leave you with more time to get things done. Consider that US businesses waste $213 billion per year - and a lot of valuable time - on ineffective meetings. Find your own time-efficient ways of managing your team, taking into consideration the different personality types in your team and how each person prefers to work.
Time Management Activity 5: Minimise Distractions
“You think you sit at your PC for a long time, but it's not true. You usually sit at it briefly before you switch to something else. You're interrupted by a person, by a phone call, or you do something on paper,” says University of California Professor Dr. Gloria Mark. Mark’s research into workplace distractions found that managers typically spend just three minutes at a time on a task due to interruptions, and it can take more than 23 minutes to resume work. Switching off, even just briefly, can help to motivate you to succeed.
Lead by Example
While time management skills are essential for you as a new manager having to operate both up and down the organisational hierarchy, these skills are also important for your team. Lead by example. Nurture a culture of effective time management amongst your team by encouraging them to utilise these same time management activities within their day-to-day operations, boosting efficiency and productivity.