Poor time management is the symptom, not the cause.
There are two big things to keep in mind when we talk about time management issues: your commitment to your goal, and your leadership skills. You need to make sure that you’re actively committed to a goal that inspires and motivates you. And on top of that, you need to make sure that the team you’ve built around you are actually supporting you and your goal. With these ideas in mind, you can start to practice a couple of key strategies to help organize your day-to-day workflow and eliminate time management issues.
Resolving Time Management Issues – Stay Committed
The way I see it, struggling with time management is often an outcome of not being committed to what it is you say you want to do. If someone with a knife starts chasing you, you’re going to try to get away. You won’t procrastinate making that decision. If you’re really hungry and you have an overwhelming desire, you don’t need to worry about time management. When you’re pursuing something that really matters to you, you’ll go out of your way to make it happen. You’ll spend the extra time in the office to make sure you’re hitting your goals.
Resolving Time Management Issues – Build Around You
Typically when questions of time management arise, there’s often a deeper issue at play, specifically in regards to leadership. You can’t have a roster of employees that are constantly dumping customer issues on you all day. Think about the implication there.
If you’re managing everything yourself, you’re not training your team to handle the issues themselves. But if you train your employees so that they have exceptional customer service and organizational skills, they won’t have to lean on you as much.
It’s not your responsibility to manage your time better so that you can tackle all of their issues. That’s just a band-aid for an infected wound.
If you’re a better leader, you train your employees better. And then you can do your job better.
If you think about an NFL head coach, you might picture them calling all the offensive plays and defensive plays, maybe they’re working the special teams. But when you watch some of the best NFL coaches, however, you’ll actually see that they don’t do much on the field at all. Most of the time, they defer everything to their coordinators and assistants. They have trusted, qualified personnel doing the groundwork so that they can hang back and observe everything. They’ve done all the prep in advance so that things should be able to move smoothly. They hire the right people and build the right culture.
If you have a strong leader and the right system, you don’t need the best players in the world.
Resolving Time Management Issues – Breathing Room
It’s hard to grow a new plant in a crowded garden. Think about all of the established roots growing under the soil. If your new plant doesn’t have enough space, it won’t be able to flourish. And the leaves of the other nearby foliage will likely block out some of its precious sunlight.
I like this metaphor in the context of a busy schedule. When you’re struggling with time management, you often have wall-to-wall meetings and tasks to burn through on a daily basis. But it’s actually counterproductive to stack your time like this. You’re going to be sweating all day, just treading water to get through it all. You’ll have no time to get ahead and start making actual leeway.
Free time is essential. You need to have some breathing room to let your mind wander a bit. That’s your time to really think about creative solutions to problems. And it’s your time to strategize about the big picture too. You can rise above the minutiae and start to see the forest through the trees. It may seem difficult to find free time, but it’s an absolute necessity. You may need to wake up a little bit earlier or stay at work a little bit later. However you can open up some gaps in your schedule, do it.
Resolving Time Management Issues – Big Things First
Once you’ve given yourself a little bit of breathing room, it’s good to have an order of operations. I really like Franklin Covey’s book on time management, and I suggest you check it out. He uses a great metaphor to demonstrate the value of strategically tackling your daily tasks.
You have a pile of rocks, and a pile of sand. You need to put the rocks and the sand inside the vase. If you put all of the sand in first, you’re going to really struggle to fit all of the rocks in there too. But if you put the rocks in first, the sand can filter through and fill in the cracks.
It’s simple – tackle the big issues first. When you assess your responsibilities for the day, try to line up all the big, intimidating, or high-priority tasks first. You’ll build up a lot of momentum as you knock those tasks out, and that will carry you through all of the small stuff. A lot of the time, you’ll actually find that taking care of all the big, scary stuff will actually take care of some of the smaller issues along the way.
Recap – Resolving Time Management Issues
So just to review, there are some really important things to keep in mind when assessing your ability to manage your time effectively. And once you have the right frame of mind, you can practice a couple of simple improvements in your day-to-day to ensure you remain effective.
- Find the right goal and stay committed to it
- Build a strong team around you
- Give yourself breathing room
- Tackle the big issues first
You have to stay organized and strategic to really get anywhere in life. And if you chase after a goal that really means something to you, you’ll be astounded by how much drive and passion you’ll be able to muster.