If asked to list the skills that an effective leader has, most people will say resiliency, empathy, creativity, or communication skills. Most people aren’t apt to immediately list time management. But time management is one of the most important skills that any effective leader has. Time is a valuable resource, and in order to increase productivity, it must be used effectively. When I work with executives and business leaders, one of the first things I ask is how they manage their time. Here are several tips for improving time management, which will ultimately trickle down to better business performance.
1. Delegate Tasks
Too often, I see executives that try to bring every small task to their plate for completion or direct oversight. This leads to inefficiency because executives who practice this behavior are being pulled in too many different ways. Proper delegation can save executives valuable time. Employees with the right skills and expertise to tackle lower level tasks should be allowed to do so with relative autonomy. It frees up the executive to do more during work hours.
2. Watch The Time You Spend Online
The internet is an extremely valuable and powerful tool. Executives often use it for researching solutions or interacting with staff, clients, and business partners. However, the internet can be a major distraction that is a drag on your productivity. Make sure to be disciplined online—you can do this with time tracking software that tracks your time usage on the internet, such as how long you spend writing and responding to emails.
3. Recognize That It’s Ok To Say “No”
Sometimes business leaders feel obligated to accept invitations to meetings or oversee projects when they don’t need to be there. You shouldn’t turn everything down, but you should evaluate if your presence is needed to get something done, or if your time would be better suited elsewhere. You don’t have to totally be “absent” either—you can send a list of key points detailing your perspective on the meeting’s agenda, or you can send another employee in your place who can report back to you afterward.
4. Effectively Manage Meetings You Attend
If you are running a meeting, then you’ll want to make sure that you are efficient with your time. You should do this by starting on time, and not slowing down or repeating yourself if others are late. You should hold others accountable and expect them to do the same for you while the meeting is going on. Your co-workers will appreciate your professionalism. All meetings should have a clear goal (a lot of times this goal is setting a plan for another goal) that you can reach in the allotted meeting time.