Hello everybody, welcome to episode 191 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. Today's question is about time management tips for managers.
I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino reminding you before we begin that if you have a question you would like help with on the show, we welcome you to email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast.com
So glad to have you all here today for an episode that’s pretty practical all around! Our asker today has a lot of tasks at work – enough that it’s to the point that she really struggles to find the time and concentration to do them all. What a great worker she must be to come to us with a desire to fix this, so let’s see if we can come to some conclusions about time management and sharpening workplace performance. Here’s her question…
QUESTION: “I'm a high ranking manager for Costco, I deal with many crazy, hectic situations daily. I’d say I have a hard time staying on task and completing projects. I often get thrown many things at once. Time is something I never have enough of.“
What are Your Goals at Work?
Phenomenal protein bars and, surprisingly, phenomenal golf balls that I’d recommend to anyone. Just look for the Kirkland logo; golfers who haven’t tried them will be pleasantly surprised. Anyway, on to the task at hand. No free ads, Costco!
Thank you, ma’am, for sending this question in.
I’ll say from the get-go that the solution really depends on your goal at work and your true feelings towards the job itself. I’m going to answer today under the assumption that you feel a sense of passion at work and care about Costco’s mission.
Or at the very least, that you have a desire to perform your job well and advance.
If none of this is sounds appealing to you, the better solution will likely be to look elsewhere or spend some time thinking about what you want out of work, what you can realistically expect out of it, and how you can make it worthwhile. If that sounds like you, listening to episode 106 of OLA might be of use.
But for now, let’s break down some ways to generate more time for yourself in the workplace.
Time Management Tips: Cut Down on Wasted Time
Certainly as a high ranking manager you’re bound to have a lot of tasks and thus, a lot of your time taken up. So the logical place to start is to really reflect on all the wasted time and cut it down appropriately.
Think hard about even the tiniest wastes of time throughout your day and add to your job the new and very important task of finding ways around these things. Needless to say, you’ll be able to answer this infinitely better than I will.
But here are some thoughts of mine to get you going:
Start automating stuff.
Can you start using a calendar app that allows people to book time slots when they need them rather than you going back and forth with them about when you’re both free?
Can you learn Excel formulas that do math for you and save you some time there? A video is included below.
Can you hop on an app like Slack that allows you and your coworkers to organize things with ease all in one place?
Look for direct means of communication.
Talk to people you need to talk to in person as soon as possible, rather than using middle men or emailing too much and waiting for their responses before you make moves.
Delegate as much as possible.
This one goes without saying. What tasks can you offload onto others? Are you doing things that are either below your pay grade or would be great learning opportunities for those working underneath you?
If you’re the type of manager that believes you have to do everything yourself for it to be right, or that it’s good to be as busy as possible and take on as much volume as you can, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.
Delegation helps everyone focus on what they should, be more in tune with their specific roles, and evenly distribute any and all stress.
Ask Yourself What's Most Important
Again, at the core of these ideas and any others you come up with is trimming the fat from your schedule.
You should always be asking yourself, what’s most important? What’s a priority and what’s a big priority? What has the worst consequences if I don’t get it done ASAP? What do I get the biggest return on by completing right now?
It may not seem like there is differentiation, but there is. Focus a lot on what’s truly most urgent, get it done first and save the minor or longer term stuff for afterwards.
Communicate With Your Bosses
Now, prioritizing time may be hard for you to do either because it all seems so important or because you don’t have the authority to make these calls. This leads me to maybe the most important part of my answer, and that’s to not be afraid to communicate these feeling to your bosses as you have to me.
As long as you present this in a way that’s professional and out of concern for the efficiency of the company, it will not come off as weak. Rather, it’s the best thing you can do for yourself and, again, the company at large. To have a desire to work together and be practical is what any good boss would want from any employee, and if they don’t want that, they aren’t worth working for.
Your bosses realize that you’re under a lot of pressure and are pressed for time. They know Costco and what a madhouse it can be. These things are expected. While they care about you getting things done, they know any manager is going to be short of time. What lies between the cracks, however, and what is of equal or more importance, is how you handle this.
Are you putting your head down and not being social in an effort to focus, or are you still volunteering to help others? Are you waiting for the word on what to do, or are you anticipating and doing things before you’re asked?
Are you going through the motions, or are you still brainstorming creative ideas? Have you been working the same way since you started there, or are you honing your work performance to make you a more unique and irreplaceable worker?
Is your learning stagnant, or are you making the effort to research like you did when you were new?
Time Management Tips for Managers: Conclusion
It’d benefit both you and your bosses for you to be engaged rather than busy, and there’s a difference.
Engaged is someone who is looking for ways to make progress, not someone who just wants to stay above water.
That’s what upper management does, right? They constantly look for ways to get the less necessary stuff off their plate so they can focus on the bigger picture and maybe squeeze in some extra golf with those unreal Kirkland balls.
So do yourself and your career a favor by looking for ways to streamline your time and making that process priority #1. And work with others to do this. It helps everyone and creates a new mindset of getting ahead, being efficient, and ultimately being revitalized about work in general.
Thanks so much to the asker today, and I really hope these tips helped you out. Though I can’t reiterate enough that these kinds of strategies aren’t going to resolve general job dissatisfaction. So if you have an underlying hatred for your job, or perhaps problems with focus and time-management in life in general, that should really be addressed first.
But in the meantime, I wish you luck with cleaning up your workload and hope that everyone that listened today is focused a bit more now on quality over quantity. We are done though, folks, time to wrap up.
Thanks so much for joining in this lighthearted, efficient episode. Sometimes OLA is dark and heavy, other times it’s more streamlined. Whatever you guys need is fine by me. So come on back next time as we seek to help another listener, and I’ll look forward to talking to you all then. See you there.