There’s never enough time, unless you manage it carefully and keep a diligent calendar. And surely we all want some more open and free spaces on our schedules, so let’s revisit some key tactics in making short work of your work day.
Delegate, delegate, delegate. It’s easy to forget that if you’re in charge, you’re supposed to be spending your time quite differently from everyone. ideally this is because you have talents that are better plied elsewhere while still advancing the overall goals of a company. Delegating work to others frees you up to spend time doing that which you find makes you most effective. In general, if there’s an item in between you and your preferred task and that item can be delegated, then delegate the heck out of it.
Change the way you run your meetings. We’ve elaborated on this in the past, but here’s a quick primer on some essentials. First, make sure the people in the meeting room are there because they actually need to be there. The best possible number of meeting attendees is the smallest number possible such that that meeting can still reach its objectives. That’s the second point: establish clear goals/objectives for each meeting. It should be a clear-cut binary thing: you either have or have not accomplished what you intended to accomplish yet. Lastly, be sure to acknowledge meetings for what they are: an undesired interruption that divides your attention between that which is worthwhile (the meeting) and that which is essential (the daily work that you had to put down in order to attend the meeting).
Get comfortable saying no more often. You can’t do it all, just as you can’t please everyone. To have a clear focus means honing in on the essence of what a goal is. Depending on your focus, much of the outside world will quickly turn to noise. Not only will you be saying no to what others might want very dearly, but you will be acting with conviction to your clear idea of success. You can read more about that here.
Schedule your email sessions. The temptation to check email first thing in the morining is so real as to be silly, and it only becomes that much easier to fall into the pattern of checking email all the time. While some working arrangements might prevent this as a possibility, many have found checking email only at certain intervals throughout the day to be a strong method of managing runaway inboxes. By reducing your reliance on email, however slightly, you increase demand for reliable, quick access to you. Solutions will happen in their own ways.
Hit the easy stuff as it materializes. One task might suddenly turn into a few sub-tasks. An email merits followup with several individuals, for example. As a general rule of thumb, if you can handle one of these quick-and-easy to-dos in five minutes or less, do it right away and without second thought. This helps keep your to-do list in the nice, trim shape that we all want our own to be in.
This next one’s hard, but it’s for the pros.
Quit social media. Sure, it helps advance nearly every single news story of our time, but social media on an individual level is ultimately vapid compared to other “more genuine” forms of communication that also happen to be instantaneous, like a Skype chat or even an old-fashioned telephone call. As someone who’s ultimately committed to quality work at his or her place of employ, social media may very well be a tool in your toolbox. Or you might be lighter, faster, and better without it.