Is Time Management Just A Personal Thing?
A post from our Time Management blog
Written by Philip Andrews
Sorry, But It's Not All About You
That's not to say your priorities don't matter. You have key tasks that you need to perform on a daily basis – and to ensure they're completed on time, and in line with each given brief, you'll to need to define a daily structure and follow it as closely as possible.
Knowing what needs to be done, rating each item according to its urgency/importance, and working out the best time to complete things will help you cope with your workload. For example, if the phones are quiet between 9-10am then this is probably the best time to reply to emails. If your customers tend to be busy in meetings most mornings, then shift your calling schedule to the afternoon.
This is all well and good if you work for yourself, or in a standalone role where your time management skills don't directly impact on the routines of your co-workers. Otherwise, if you work in a busy office, you'll need to develop a routine that works not just for yourself – but everyone else around you.
Right Brain Or Left Brain?
At the risk of stating the obvious, the people who work in your office are different. You've probably already encountered individuals who are frequently late for meetings, work without a filing system, and miss important deadlines (prioritising just doesn't seem to be a word in their vocabulary). These are your archetypal right brain thinkers.
Contrastingly, others members of your team appear to be super-productive – submitting projects before their due dates, arriving at meetings early and completing their daily tasks without any apparent difficulty. These are your typical left brain thinkers.
Understanding which of your co-workers are right or left brained will help you with your planning. You'll also need to submit yourself as a case study for consideration, because your method of working will impact on other people's productivity too.
Some Scenarios To Consider
Let's operate on the basis that you're a highly organized thinker. At some point you're going to have to work with your direct opposite – the right brain thinker. This means you'll have to find a way to compensate
for their poor time management skills and non systematic approach. There are different strategies you could adopt – like giving your colleague extra time to complete the work, sending them gentle reminders via email, or delegating part of the task
to another team member.
The term ‘time robbers'
is used to describe an individual or event that forces you to react to somebody else's demands. The impromptu meeting on a Monday morning that you hadn't factored in to your schedule, a colleague asking you for some last minute data for a report they're writing, the unexpected sales call that takes up 20 minutes of your time – all of these are prime examples of time robbers.
Not all of these scenarios can be avoided, but you can take steps to reduce the number of demands made of you. Next time you're invited to a meeting, find out what it's about and whether you really need to be there. If the phone rings unexpectedly, politely tell the caller to ring again later. Can your colleague get the data they need from anyone else in the company?
Managing Your Workload
You've probably realised by now that time management is about more than just controlling your workload – it's about understanding the behaviours of the people around you so that everyone benefits.
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How Do You Manage Your Time?
Are you struggling to keep on top of things?
Maybe you're highly organized but work with a team of predominantly right brained thinkers. If so, what strategies do you use when managing your workload?