As a leader, you may find yourself strapped for time, especially when you are juggling clients, team members and the constant flow of work that comes in any leadership position. Learning to manage your time more efficiently, then, is a very valuable lesson for you to learn as a leader. With that in mind, here are some ways to stop wasting time at work. Take note and speed things up!
1. Have Fewer Meetings
Never schedule a meeting when an email or phone call could accomplish the same goal.
When you do have meetings, make sure they are as efficient as possible. Have a structure, know what is going on, and work to ensure your mutual goal is met. That way you will start to dread meetings less and less!
Meetings are the bane of most workers’ lives, so reducing them as much as possible is the only way forward. Reduce the meetings, and make the ones you keep more productive. You may be surprised by how much more both you and your staff get done!
You may aspire to be an inclusive leader. But if you’re not there for your employees, they won’t feel supported. Learn to strike that delicate balance.
2. Streamline Tasks, But Not at the Expense of Quality (Usually)
Have you ever spent a long time doing something which you know isn’t worth that much effort? You may have a process with unnecessary steps, create reports no one reads, or over-engineer a simple task. Have you considered how you can work to reduce that effort?
Seriously consider whether you can sacrifice quality for efficiency. For example, if the work is not customer-facing, you may be able to skip the third round of edits. In some cases, quality cannot be compromised. Know when your shortcuts could put your credibility at risk, and act accordingly.
3. Get a Plan in Place
Failing to plan is planning to fail. The better the plan, the more likely your team will succeed. “Better” doesn’t always mean “more detailed.” Strike a balance between structure and improvisation that works for your team. Remember, plans change. Review your plan frequently, and communicate changes to everyone who needs to know, You will build trust by showing that you are competent and reliable.
Make sure that you have a day, week and even monthly plan which you base your working life around. Good planning can save you a lot of time as a leader and help to give you more room to deal with the little emergencies that appear every day.
4. Keep Your Priorities Balanced
Prioritising is one of the hardest parts of any job. Especially as everyone thinks the tasks you’re doing related to them is the most important thing for you to be doing. Learning to balance and manage these tasks, then to prioritise them, then, can be quite difficult.
If you want to be a good leader, this is a balancing act. Make sure you address all of the important issues, but don’t overlook what your subordinates are asking of you. It may seem relatively small in the grand scheme of things, less important than x, y or z on your list. Yet, sometimes prioritising the little things can make you a better leader.
At the very least, communicate to those you lead that you care. Let’s face it, every molehill can feel like a mountain during a bad day at work – whether you’re a PT, officer of the law or corporate solicitor. Mountain or molehill, you need to help your team to the top of either one.
5. Stop Being ‘Busy’
Busy work is a real issue when it comes to leadership and wasting time. You may find yourself doing way too much of it. Much like anything else, being busy is great until it becomes detrimental to your working life.
Busyness preoccupies a lot of managers. When employees notice this, it is all too easy for them to become resentful. They see themselves as doing the real work.
Stop being ‘busy’ and start being productive. You will be surprised by how much more you accomplish!
Leadership doesn’t have a secret formula. You can’t become an amazing leader by reading a self-help book, though that would be nice. It’s trial and error, learning to communicate, and being open to change. When you quit wasting time, you’ll create space for that growth!