Everyone from CEOs to front-line managers squander their most valuable resource -- time -- like an untuned automobile wastes fuel. Our opportunities to create real value for the organization are chipped away by everything from trivial e-mail exchanges to putting out petty corporate fires.
How do we tune our time management to make us run more productively? A couple of recent posts on Harvard Business offer some interesting approaches to thinking and dealing with the problem. The first approach is to consider what you are working on, the second discusses ways to making how you work more effective.
The Curse of Multitasking Columbia Business School professor Rita McGrath posts on the importance of focusing most of your time on tasks, jobs, and roles where you create value. The more you multitask, she says, the less effective you become. She suggests you separate the attractive opportunities from those less attractive by developing a set of evaluation screens that help you set priorities. Read her post for more details.
In Are You Spending Time the Right Way, executive coach Melissa Raffoni outlines a three-step process for using your time more strategically. In summary she asks you to:
Break your responsibilities into strategic and tactical categories such as growth and improvement, managing people, and administration.
Determine how much of your time should be devoted to each category. "To answer," she writes, "factor in the competing claims on your time: the activities that enable you to generate the most leverage, the company's strategic priorities, and the short-term needs of your supervisors, direct reports, and customers."
Make sure your conclusions align with the mission of our superiors and the company overall. Do you and your boss see eye-to-eye on where your commitments should be?
With this information in hand, Raffoni suggests you conduct an audit of how you actually spent your own time last week by looking at your calendar. Are your time commitments strategic? If not, learn how to box time and delegate to get the most out of your schedule, she says.