Being a manager or team leader can be extremely stressful and time-consuming, with your tasks often rendering you hard at work well passed your regular office hours.
Busy days may well be part and parcel of the role you’re in and, as the old saying goes, sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day. But, simple changes to your daily routine could save you valuable time, and see you heading for home time at a more reasonable hour.
Plan your workload
A clear and concise plan can help immensely. Not only can it aid you in your day-to-day role, but it can also help you to keep a strong work-life balance. It’s important to know what your schedule entails so you can prioritise your workload. Planning your next-day schedule at the end of your shift can also save you vital time as you’ll know exactly what to expect.
One way to be prepared is to create a priority graph on a daily basis as this will help you understand tasks that should be tackled immediately, those which need planning, those that can be fitted around the more important jobs at hand, and non-essential tasks.
Another technique to plan your workload is by using an interactive calendar, especially if you are dealing with clients or staff in a number of locations. “Office 365’s calendar is something I couldn’t be without”, says Kashif Naqshbandi, Chief Marketing Officer at recruiters Anderson Frank.
“We have offices all over the world, so time zones can cause issues if we aren’t organised. Colleagues have access to my calendar so they know when I’m free if they need to contact me which means the workload can be streamlined and I know exactly how my day ahead looks.
“By simply having an organised workload in place I am saving precious time every day and with the business constantly growing, time is of the essence.”
Let’s face it, today’s working environment is cluttered with distractions. Whether it’s social media, TV, emails, or small talk between staff, it’s important to focus on the job at hand, and ignore what’s happening around you. How you deal with distractions can often be the difference between how successful your day is.
“Attention is more valuable than money,” productivity expert Maura Thomas told Fast Company. For many employers in a position of seniority, their daily tasks are interrupted by a constant stream of emails. Thomas says most people are likely to receive an average of 100 work-related emails each day, so setting aside a specific time for you to read and respond to non-essential emails can save time as you don’t lose your rhythm on tasks.
By only checking your emails at specific times, you can focus all of your attention on these matters and be more productive. “It’s important to spend time reading, processing, and dealing with your email messages. The rest of the time is spent getting things done,” says Thomas.
Just because it’s on your to-do list doesn’t mean it has to be you that does it. If you’re in a position of seniority, utilising your team members is a great way to effectively save time. Delegation helps with efficiency, flexibility and teamwork, as well as helping relieve the workload you’re dealing with.
Some often struggle with the art of delegation, preferring to do it themselves, but if you try to do too much, it’s likely that the job won’t be done to the high standards that are required. By delegating tasks to your colleagues, you will balance your own workload while knowing that the job will be completed correctly. The process can also be used as a motivational tool to help empower and retain your top team members.
In management, one of your tasks is to develop people. It can often be a case of short-term sacrifice for long-term gains, but by allowing your team to showcase and grow their skills, you’ll not only save yourself time, you’ll also enhance your reputation. If your team are noticed for being great employees, it bodes well for your personal goals, too.
Clear communication with your team can be an extremely effective way to save time. If every member of the team understands their role and their daily tasks, this can help avoid procrastination and set everyone on a clear path.
Holding a brief meeting at the start of each day can help enforce this. It can also improve employee morale. Poor communication can lead to colleagues becoming disillusioned and frustrated in their role, leading to higher procrastination levels. By simply communicating expectations in a positive manner staff feel a greater sense of worth.
No matter how hectic your schedule is, it’s important to take regular breaks from work to ensure you stay productive. By taking a break every hour, it will improve your productivity levels and will allow you to come back to the task in hand with a renewed sense of purpose.
If you’re in a desk-based role, it’s vital to take regular breaks as physical movement can stop our minds from stagnating. The human body isn’t designed to be in a sitting position all day, so by moving about every now and then you can get the blood flowing, which in turn will allow the brain to receive more oxygen.
Making sure your workload is completed efficiently and meets the required deadlines is crucial to any role, so if you’re in a senior position, following the five tips above could set you on the track for success.
About Jamie Mercer
Jamie is an experienced manager with an interest in coaching and encouraging others to take charge of their personal development.