Time management is a key skill that every leader can and should aim to be getting better at. It takes time and discipline but if you get to a place where you can manage your time well you will begin to lead better in every area of your life.
1. Get a calendar that works for you.
Whether it’s a pen and paper, a calendar on the wall or what I recommend an app on your iPhone, iPad & Mac. The most important thing is that you actually use it. There is no point in spending money on stylish leather bound planners and latest technology if you’re not actually going to use it! Get into the habit of using it day in day out for the big and the small. Include one off coffees, social events, everything. When you keep a good record you can begin to notice activities you may be doing too much or too little of.
2. Start filling your calendar with your responsibilities.
Your responsibilities are those things that only you can do. You cannot delegate your family life to someone else. There are some meetings you have to go to. There are some events that as a leader you need to be at the forefront of. Work out those first and give them priority. Look at daily, weekly, monthly & annual responsibilities – putting these in your calendar first will make sure you get what really needs done first before you fill up time with things you would like to do. If you are married and have a family you will quickly find a list of things that you have to do in these different time frames but they should go into your calendar first, this is something I am working hard to get better at.
3. As a priority block out your rest days and your holidays.
If you are a driven person & have lots of opportunities to work and build your ministry or business you will quickly fill up all the slots on your calendar with this. Before you know it you start to believe your are invincible & your cause is too important to take a rest day or holiday. Once you fall into this trap your are destined for burn out. Believe me I have been there! Before this happens, get your rest day in your calendar – one full day a week at least and then plan your holiday and rest breaks based on when makes sense to take a break each year. Maybe you have a particularly taxing few months each year, carve out time before or after to rest and recover and spend time with your nearest & dearest.
4. Set time aside at the end of your work week to plan for the next week.
Consider is there anything I need to prepare for the meetings that I have next week? Do you need to make a phone call or get clarity on something before you meet so that you maximise your time? It’s amazing how a little effort on a Friday when you are in high level work mode can save a lot of work on a Monday when you are just trying to get the cogs turning. Reviewing your priorities for the in coming week will allow you to make space, often when I do this I see something I thought was vital for next week can actually wait and I bump it into the next.
5. Plan your day in 4 segments: early morning, mid morning, afternoon & evening.
Consider which type of work you do best at each time of the day. If your mind is fresh in the morning do your most brain intensive work then. Do you have an energy kick in the afternoon that will help you get through a particularly taxing task? Using these 4 segements will help you identify patterns where you work well and it will also guard you from not doing enough or doing too much throughout the day.
These are a few processes that I find personally beneficial. You will have to work out your own rhythms and what works for you with the responsibilities you have but don’t underestimate the power of a well thought out and filled out calendar.
It really could make you or break you as a leader.