This post was inspired by a client I was working with recently who wanted some help with time management. He is one of the top revenue generators in his firm. However he felt that he was not achieving as much as he could be as he continued to put off the more operational aspects of his role. From our coaching conversation, we discovered what was getting in the way and what would support him further to achieve more for himself. Here are my top tips for mastering YOUR day:
1. Be clear on what you want to accomplish for yourself and your business. As a leader, be clear on what is expected of you and, what you expect from others. As an analogy think about your role as creating a picture frame. As part of this frame, you will be responsible for:
2. Set clear goals. Identify goals that will move you towards what it is you want to accomplish. Write down your goals. As you write, in order to maximise your productivity, ask yourself ‘am I creating things to do to avoid the important?’ Wherever you choose to write your goals, have them in one place so your mind is not distracted by having to use more energy looking across a variety of places.
3. Focus your efforts on the tasks that will provide the greatest impact on your key objectives/ outcomes. Adopt the Pareto principle where 80% of your output comes from 20% of your efforts. Stay focused and don’t multi task. Divided attention limits our concentration dilutes our decision-making and is less fulfilling.
4. Set boundaries and create uninterrupted time in your day to complete what you want to focus on. Working in an open plan area can be more of a challenge and yet it is possible to surround yourself in a bubble of concentration. An example of setting boundaries can be as simple as turning off the notification sound from your emails and/or turning your phone on silent for 20 minutes. When people approach your desk, let them know you are tied up and that you will get back to them in 20 minutes.
5. Delegate. Remember you remain accountable for the overall outcome, however you delegate responsibility to your team. Delegation is a powerful way to develop others, provide a stretch and show you have confidence in them. Do not delegate anything that could be automated, this is a waste of your time and the person you can delegate to. Four rules for effective delegation include:
- a. Make a well defined request
- b. Provide the conditions of satisfaction / quality
- c. Indicate ‘by when’
- d. Give the person an opportunity to say ‘No’, enabling them to give you a big ‘Yes’
An example might sound like the following:
‘Joe, I would like you to review the latest research on the impact of big data within our sector. Please prepare a 2-page report with our recommendations for our clients, free of any spelling and grammatical errors. I would like this no later than Friday morning. Are there any reasons you may not be able to do this?’
6. Manage your email. Dealing with emails is one of the biggest distractions to achieving what we want during the day. When we respond to emails we are responding to someone else’s agenda, rather than our own. Allocate key blocks of time during your day to focus on your emails after you have attended to your own goals. A key to effectively managing your emails is to adopt the strategy:
- a. Do it,
- b. Delegate it, or
- c. Ditch it
7. Develop a daily habit or ritual. Effective people create habits. Some build in reflection times during the day, after a meeting, at lunchtime and at the end of the day to reflect on what went well and what went less well. Some prepare their goals for the following day. Being consciously aware of learning how to master our personal leadership is what sets those who are most effective apart from others.
You need to challenge yourself, to change yourself. When you are provided with a stretch, you achieve more than you think you are capable of. As an illustration, notice after you exercise, when you believe you are at your maximum stretch, take a deep breath in and, as you exhale, stretch a little further. It is the same with mastering your day, provide yourself with that extra stretch and you will achieve more than you thought possible with the strategies above.
If you knew you could achieve more tomorrow how would you master YOUR day?
I would love to hear your thoughts, please leave your comments below: