Time management is easy, said no leader ever. Juggling between the lengthy team and zoom meetings, networking, administrative duties, and personal life can be hell, especially for a newly placed leader. However, here are some key strategies to achieving and even beating your deadlines and enjoying your leadership role.
Planning and Prioritisation
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln.
Do not jump straight and blindly into executing tasks. Do you have a jam-packed week ahead? Take your time to plan and prioritise. To prepare for the week:
- List down all of your tasks, including personal ones. A to-do list will help you memorise everything, including that anniversary you don’t want to miss. This will also help you set each task’s deadlines and motivate you to undertake them.
- Prioritise your tasks. Carefully go through your tasks and differentiate them focusing on identifying importance and urgency. Further, group them into important and urgent, important but not urgent, not important but urgent, and not important and not urgent.
The most important and urgent tasks should be prioritised before the rest. You can use tools like the priority matrix or Eisenhower matrix to help you categorise the tasks and help you prioritise… or you can simply number them from 1 to 4.
In the contemporary fast-paced business environment, you must maximise your limited time by prioritising only the necessary and most efficient tasks. Failure to plan and prioritise will likely cause a lack of focus, neglecting duties, time pressure, panic, and low productivity. All these are recipes to unnecessary workload and lack of enough time for a leader to spend time with their team and still enjoy some personal time off.
To work in synergy with your team, share your planning and prioritisation strategies. This will help your team have clear goals, better decision-making, and time management.
The Pareto Principle
This polymath and economist Vilfredo Pareto principle suggests that 80 percent of results are achieved from 20 percent of effort. In essence, not every effort yields significant results, and as a leader, you should focus more on the 20 percent of effort that will give you 80 percent of results. The Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, can be explained further in the following examples:
- If 20 percent of your team does social media marketing that yields 80 percent of results, prioritise the 20 percent. To avoid inefficiency, don’t set aside equal time and resources for the other 80 percent of the team.
- If 20 percent of your activities as a manager don’t yield 80 percent of the desirable results, they are likely to be unproductive. Therefore, cut down on the low-value activities and prioritise the high-value ones that achieve 80 percent results.
How can You Use the Pareto Principle?
- You can identify and delegate time-wasters and distractors to other team members as a leader. For example, urgent but unimportant tasks are time-wasters and should be delegated elsewhere.
- The principle resembles the famous “work smart, not hard” mantra. It negates the idea of undertaking a lot of duties to be productive and beat deadlines. Instead, the most significant tasks are prioritised, no matter how easy to do. This reduces burnout and being time-starved.
- The rule will help you identify the 20 percent of high-performing team members and high-value activities contributing to 80 percent of the desirable results. You can then focus on training them more to achieve even better results. This saves time as you avoid incidents of having to bail out your team occasionally.
- The principle exposes low performers and bottlenecks to the desired results. This allows for either replacement or change in the delegation of duties to the most suitable team members, or you can focus newly found time on training your team in areas you wish for them to grow. You can then minimise team supervision when things work smoothly in the long run.
The average newly placed leader is ever-swamped and sometimes lacks time for their team and personal life. However, planning and prioritisation can be streamlined, organised and effective using the Pareto principle. By following this principle, you can evaluate the business activities and focus more on high-value or productive activities. You are, therefore, able to save more time by delegating the right duties to the right members of your team.