Managers have one of the most complex roles when it comes to balancing the needs of the team with demands of their boss. As a result, managing your time and your team effectively can be a very tricky balancing act. Effective time management strategies can help.
Part of time management is knowing what to prioritize in your weekly schedule. Whether it’s strategic planning, contracts and budgets, conducting 1-on-1s, managing people, keeping up to date on the market, taking time to develop in your own role, or attending meetings: How do you determine what gets addressed first?
Keep reading for effective time-management strategies for managers.
How to prioritize your management tasks
First and foremost, a manager needs to prioritize their team’s needs, even before pleasing their boss. Generally speaking, you need to focus on what is urgent and important. This means eliminating blockers so your employees can get their work done and deliver value to clients.
Ask yourself these important questions when you’re unsure of how to tackle your to-do list.
- What is the most important task on my daily schedule right now?
- How can I cross off an important assignment so as to not be a blocker for the team?
- Which smaller tasks on my to-do list take one minute or less? (tackle these first thing each morning)
- If I push this important task to tomorrow, what will the effects be?
- How can I prevent prioritizing putting out fires before addressing my to-do list?
Bonus: Check out our 7 key management skills you need to lead successful teams; time management is number 2!
11 actionable time-management strategies for busy managers
According to time management experts, incorporating 10-12 minutes of planning into your daily schedule, will save up to 2 hours of time. That's time that would otherwise have gone to waste! So, your first strategy should be to include 10 minutes of planning time every morning.
Try these additional actionable tips to manage your time, and keep your team on task:
1. Start early and eliminate clutter
Get your day started early. Start by completing all of the smaller tasks on your list that take one minute or less. These “clutter tasks” which take little time to complete can take up a lot of your brain space, and add unnecessary bulk to your to-do list. Get them out of the way and start fresh on your day.
2. Be aware of your use of time
In order to manage time more effectively, be more aware of it. Jot down your activities for a few days, and then calculate how much time you spend on each. You might be shocked to find just how few of those precious minutes are spent in productive activities. Strategize how to eliminate unproductive time and focus on what is most important.
3. Schedule “office hours”
To avoid being poked and pinged all day, designate specific parts of your daily schedule for communications or “office hours”. Using one-on-one software like Officevibe can help to give structure to your 'office hours' while also guaranteeing that you're scheduling meaningful time with your employees. Officevibe lets you set a shared one-on-one agenda, so you and your team members are sure you're addressing every important point efficiently. With just a bit of quick prep, conversations don't drag on, your employees feel seen, and you minimize the number of times your team member needs to disrupt your work to ask a question or voice a concern.
4. Delegate tasks to others
Is there anything on your to do list that might make sense for your team to take on? It can be a developmental experience for an employee to help you with a certain task such as market research to help you plan your upcoming strategy.
5. Learn to say “no” to meetings:
Learn to question whether you actually need to be in a certain meeting. Can you be briefed afterwards? Will your absence be a blocker? Can you be there only part of the time? Alternatively, work with your coworkers to plan meeting days and non-meeting days so you can bundle your focus.
6. Don’t be afraid of time management tools or productivity tools
There are many helpful time management tools, computer programs and smartphone apps like Rescue Time or Focus Keeper that can help make your life a lot easier with a simple download. Adding just one might be the key to saving hours of time each week.
And, have you ever noticed how much time you spent on little things? Like, zip-ing documents, converting formats of communication, drafting messages and emails,...
There are tons of tools that can make tedious day-to-day tasks, like converting communication documents such as Word to PDF, easier. It is worth searching for them. They allow you to get through your tasks faster, and instantly boost your productivity.
7. Prioritize time for your own development
With so many fires to put out, when can you carve out time to advance your own career? Find a mentor! This can be another manager in your company. Book 30 minutes or so every two weeks to talk through your experiences and gain perspective from someone a bit more seasoned in your position. You can also turn to online management tools that provide specific, actionable advice.
8. Break a big task into smaller chunks
You can waste a lot of time worrying about how you’ll get a big project done. Break it down into manageable chunks instead so you can work on it in structured increments that allow you to see your progress.
9. Keep the end goal in sight
Always focus on the anticipated final outcome. Look at whether you can get to that point faster by skipping a few steps that don’t add to the end result.
10. Schedule breaks
Hours and even days can spill into one another, especially when working remotely. It is very important to take a break and recalibrate before getting started on that next task. When we try to do it all at once, we often end up doing nothing. Breaks give us clarity and perspective before continuing on a task.
11. Collect data on what needs prioritizing
A key time management strategy is to know where to spend your time. The Officevibe software collects weekly insights from your team members on where they’re doing well and where they’re struggling. These insights show you exactly where to focus, based on all of the things that can impact your team’s performance, whether that’s their workload, stress level, wellness, or relationships. Officevibe surfaces issues so you know exactly where to spend your time first - and, it’s free!
Learn from the source
There's nothing like tips from real managers to help you achieve your full potential. Take a look at this interview we conducted with Jon Franko from Gorilla 76 where he gives his best tips on time management.
Remote time management strategies for managers and teams
Just as you are busy managing your schedule, your team might need support from you to help manage theirs as well. Time management and prioritization can get tough for anyone in any industry, and the stress that comes from being inefficient can result in underperformance. That's where you can step in and guide your team:
1. Choose the best tools
Make sure your team has the habits, processes and time management tools such as ProofHub or Hubstaff that are most efficient and relevant to their needs.
2. Mitigate outside requests
Help assess options when there are requests from other teams. Determine what’s at stake if accepted, and learn to say no if needed.
3. Encourage focus time
Book focus days or time-slots so your team has uninterrupted hours to execute without meetings. Or, encourage your employees to put a “focus” status on your inter office communication tool so others know not to disturb them during this time.
4. Use a goal-setting software
Officevibe helps you to set clear goals with your employees, as well as action items after every 1-on-1. Storing goals and action items in one place ensures expectations are clear, and makes it easy for you to refer to your notes when checking in at your next meeting or evaluation. Plus, it helps your employees develop in their roles.
Time-management strategies benefit you and your team
Time management strategies help us learn to make the best use of each day, consequently amplifying productivity. It's one of the many helpful tools in your managerial tool kit that will make you a great manager. As you become master your own time management, you’ll have more time to guide your team to success.