If you’re like most executives, you probably start your day fresh and energetic and end it tired and stressed but this isn’t how it has to be. Despite the challenges, having an executive position is rewarding and praise-worthy, and it is possible to feel highly productive and satisfied when your day comes to an end. The key to achieving this lies in improving your time management. If you’re finding it hard to mow through your daily tasks, here are a few steps to follow in order to get started.
Step 1 – Minimize Distractions
Before you get started with any of your daily tasks, minimize your distractions. This means switching off your cell phone, closing your personal emails and letting your voicemail service pick up your calls. Another great way to make sure you won’t be disturbed (unless there’s an emergency of course) is to make sure your staff knows what they’re doing. Having a well-trained staff means fewer distractions for you each day.
Step 2 – Batch Your Work
Do your work in batches. Instead of doing your tasks one by one, group them up into separate batches and work through each one. Set a certain time aside to deal with emails and a certain time aside to check your voicemails and texts. Since electronic mediums come along with their own distractions, it’s best to only check them at specified times.
Step 3 – Prioritize Your Work
Instead of tackling everything that comes your way individually, you should prioritize your work. Urgent and past due work should be completed first. Sounds easy enough, but you’d be surprised to know that many executives are unaware of what “urgent” really is. The U.S. Department of State recommends getting to know the definition of ‘urgent’ in order to help you prioritize. They quote the definition of urgent as something that calls for immediate action. If a task doesn’t call for immediate action, it’s just a top priority, but it isn’t urgent.
Step 4 – Deal with Paperwork or Computer Tasks At Once
After getting all of your urgent work out of the way, move on to your batched paperwork and emails. It may be really tempting to look at a paper or email and file it away as a ‘to do later’ task, but please resist the urge — if you want to be productive. Instead, put all papers together in a batch, then work through each one, one at a time. As soon as you pick up a paper, deal with it immediately.
Step 5 – Schedule Meetings in Clusters
Scheduling meetings is just one of the many things that busy high-level executives have to do. In order to be more productive, meetings should be scheduled in clusters. Scheduling meetings sporadically throughout the day can interfere with other work you may have; this causes work to backup. Set meetings aside for specific time blocks throughout the week or throughout the day and make sure to get your most important tasks completed before then.
Bonus Tip – Keep a Time Log
The true key to productive time management is to know how long it generally takes you to complete tasks. Write down each of the tasks that you complete throughout the day, and keep track of how long it takes you to complete them. This way, you’ll know how much time it takes you to do emails, conferences, paperwork, and other management tasks.
Managing your time can make you a more productive and a lot less stressed. Having a clear plan of how to move forward each day is the best way to truly be more efficient in the office.