When asked by his son "Dad, what do you do all day?" one business owner realised the truthful answer was that he spent most of his day answering emails. Sound familiar? Time mastery challenges are scarily similar for anyone in a top level role. Avoid these common time management mistakes.
- I can do it all syndrome
You might be able to book your airline flights - but it doesn't mean you should. You might be more than capable of typing up your meeting Agendas - but again, should you? Just because you can, and because you have a high level of intelligence, does not mean you should do all tasks. Consider this. What are you worth per hour? Is your time best spent on these types of tasks?
- Not having a personal assistant (PA), virtual assistant (VA) or secretary
These days, everyone knows how to use a computer, so many CEOs do more things themselves. Keep a list, just for one day, and write down everything you do. Get a highlighter pen and consider what on that list you could have a capable assistant do for you. Your assistant does not have to be a full time secretary sitting at a desk outside your office - this person might be virtual or part time. If you are unsure of how it would work with a virtual assistant, search online for a few and select one or two to meet with you and discuss HOW they would make it work. This is their business - they will have great ideas.
- Emails taking over your day / life
Emails can be the biggest time vampire of them all. Here are some basic and simple tips:
- Turn off the warning sound of a new email coming into your inbox
- Allocate email times; for example, a half-hour first up, in the middle and at the end of day
- Block anything rubbish or spam or time consuming. "Unsubscribing" is time consuming and people get offended; just block them, so you deal only with what you need to.
- Not delegating enough
You get an email in from a colleague requesting some information you discussed. Rather than handling, reply to the person "Sure Bob, I'll have my PA send this over" and you CC your PA on that email. They know when they see one of these emails that it's now with them to action. In fact, next time Bob might just email them direct.
- Allowing meetings to go over time
Whether a formal board meeting or a one-on-one coffee with an associate, meetings can tend to run over-time. When booking the meeting, determine the purpose and discuss duration. Saying "I've got a full schedule - will 45 minutes be sufficient?" sets a very clear message the other person has 45 minutes and that's it. Even set an alarm on your phone which will go off at 40 minutes to warn you time is up. But ensure your phone is set to vibrate so you are not interrupted.
- Not having someone screen your emails or calls
Having a secretary or VA screen your emails and phone calls is magical. You are no doubt aware of the number of calls and emails you get which are just not necessary for you. A client wanting a repeat copy of their invoice, or a telemarketer wanting to sell their product don't need to come to you. By having someone screen these interruptions, you will need to deal with them less. Possibly even have your email directed to your person with a "secret email" that diverts the important stuff to you. So that request for a copy of an invoice is handled by them and you don't even need to know about it.
- Not setting limits for your team
Your team can also consume your time. Set limits for them. Of my staff, each can email me no more than 3 times a day. So they make use of those 3 emails and don't waste them on silly replies like "Thanks". Limit meeting times with them, and try meeting 20 minutes before the end of the day. It's amazing how efficient they can be when it's time to go home shortly. Set clear rules. If you don't need to be CC'd in on every email they have with clients, then communicate this. Even have your PA type up some systems and rules so this is given to all new team members upon commencement.
We all have the same number of minutes in a day, but there is only one person who controls how those minutes are spent - YOU!