Time Management for Leaders

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Aaagh! Ever wonder how you can get it all done? You need more than 24 hours? You don’t even have time to think about time management?

Time Management is a Mindset

It’s all in your mindset and strategic planning. Yes, organizing your time, daily, requires strategic planning and above all, discipline. Time management for leaders is not something that happens naturally.  You must make it happen.

People in great physical shape don’t get that way by accident. No, they have to schedule a fitness routine into their schedules, and be diligent to make it happen. Same thing with your career and life balance.

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Time Management Tips for Leaders

Chaos. If you’re a leader, that may be the adjective you’d use to describe your life. But let’s change that. Remove the chaos and implement order using these 6 simple Time Management Tips for Leaders:

1. Plan for the unexpected. When you’re a leader, putting out fires is part of the job. Ideally, as a leader, you’re finding ways to avoid fires by implementing preventive plans that have operations running smoothly, but inevitably, things unplanned will happen. So, schedule some time in your day to deal with those unexpected things, like a team member getting sick, or the copy machine breaking down.
2. Schedule lunch and exercise. If you do not block out time for lunch and exercise, you may not eat or exercise, ever. If something requires an action, put it on your calendar.
3. Schedule task time. Inevitably some administrative tasks that must be completed daily. Limit your time here so the bulk of your time is on the things that will yield your business its greatest return on investment. Tasks may not deliver any ROI for you, but need to be done for your people or processes. Just be sure to set boundaries on how much time these tasks take and move on to the next part of your schedule when the allotted time is up. If you find that tasks are absorbing more and more of your time, you may need to train someone else to take over these tasks. Only you will know which tasks or action items will move your business forward. Anything that won’t grow your business, it’s time to delegate to someone else.
4. Schedule mentoring time. Someone likely mentored you, which is why you’re now in leadership position. So give back. It’s the right thing to do. Schedule time to mentor someone. Mentoring is not a one-way street. If you give of your time, you will likely get something back, even if only a reward for paying it forward.
5. Schedule strategy time. When you achieve the leadership level, you must act like a leader in every sense of the way. And the #1 thing a leader must do is establish a vision. Short-term, mid-term, and long-term visions. Laders must know the goals and have a plan for how to get there, then decide the best way to communicate the vision to the team. If you allow disruptions to derail you from strategizing, you won’t be in leadership for long. Set boundaries for disruptions. Let your staff know you will have desk time during 2 to 3pm, which is when you are putting out fires. But at 3:01, you are on to the next thing. Of course, things will always come up that can’t wait till the next day when you have that open time slot in your schedule. You always have to take care of your people first. But, if you don’t set boundaries, you will get disruptions all day long.
6. Schedule personal time. Everyone needs a good life-work balance. When it’s time to call it a day, go home. Spend time with your family. Stay connected to the things you enjoy, whether reading a book, doing a crossword puzzle, or just watching TV. Refresh. If you don’t recharge your batteries, you won’t be on you’re A-game for the next day. Franklin-Covey calls it ‘sharpening your saw’.

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Make It Happen

It’s easy for leaders to exhaust themselves. There are lots of balls in the air at any given time, and the risk of a ball dropping can cause fear and a lack of control. But realistically, we are all just humans doing the best we can. So, cut yourself some slack and put together a schedule and stick to it. And remember, sometimes, you just have to say no. One person can’t do everything and be everything to everyone. Know your limitations; it’s not a sign of weakness. Focus on leadership priorities and keep moving forward.

What time management tips work best for you? Share in the comments section below.

Written by Christie Gibson

christie gibson is director of marketing for torchmark corporation affiliates. Google+