How to be a great time manager
This is a guest post by Julianne Kuhlmann of Kool Results. Julianne is a leading light in South Australia’s coaching and training industry and has a deep and abiding commitment to the development of human potential, which resonates clearly in her coaching, teaching, writing and speaking.
Managing time can be trickier than it seems. We often hear (or say!) “I just don’t have time!” in our daily lives and turn down opportunities for both business and pleasure, even as we lose hours every week to poor time management.
First of all, nobody has any more or less time than you. As a resource, the same amount is available to everyone – it doesn’t fly, it can’t be hoarded or made up and it is not the enemy. Your calendar is under your control – it doesn’t control you! In order to fit in both the things you need and the things you want to do, you need to optimise.
A truly great time manager will plan for the unplanned. It’s a mental shift that requires stepping out of the reactive space – in which challenges arise, are evaluated and are addressed – into the active space. Informed by your knowledge of past and current challenges, look forward and try to anticipate what may be coming, and plan for that. Even if some of what you plan for never materialises, your skill at quickly and efficiently dispatching tasks will increase significantly.
However, the best planned calendar is useless if it isn’t kept up-to-date and isn’t consulted frequently. This doesn’t mean you should be fearful of rescheduling – flexibility is extremely valuable. On the other hand, never postpone a task or meeting with words like “soon” or “once we’re ready.” This kind of ambiguity is a recipe for time management disaster! Instead, set clear, agreed-upon dates, and follow them up accordingly.
Indeed, ambiguity should be avoided wherever possible. Unclear objectives, vague task descriptions or poorly-planned meetings waste huge amounts of time as each person in the chain must laboriously interpret the task at hand. It’s also important to know your limits – turn down or renegotiate tasks you know you can’t accomplish in time!
A practical change you can make immediately is to develop clear, collaborative lists of priorities which specify dates and the people responsible for them. There are many free, cloud-based services online which now make this extremely easy and can sync to mobile devices for multiple users. Spending an hour each week keeping these lists up-to-date – be they paper or digital – will save you countless hours in the long term!