Time management is about more than just managing time; it is about the team members managing themselves, in relation to time. It is about setting priorities and taking charge. It means changing habits or activities that cause the team to waste time. It means being willing to experiment with different methods and ideas to enable the team to find the best way to make maximum use of time.
The 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule, also known as Pareto’s Principle, states that 80% of your results come from only 20% of your actions. Across the board, you will find that the 80/20 principle is pretty much right on with most things in your life. For most people, it really comes down to analyzing what you are spending your time on. Are you focusing in on the 20% of activities that produce 80% of the results in your life?
The Urgent/Important Matrix
Great time management means being effective as well as efficient. Managing time effectively, and achieving the things that the team wants to achieve, means spending time on things that are important and not just urgent. To do this, the team needs to distinguish clearly between what is urgent and what is important:
Important: These are activities that lead to the achievement of team goals and have the greatest impact on the team.
Urgent: These activities demand immediate attention, but are often associated with outside goals rather than the goals of the team.
The Urgent/Important Matrix is a powerful way of organizing tasks based on priorities. Using it helps the team overcome the natural tendency to focus on urgent activities, so that they can have time to focus on what’s truly important.
The Urgent/Important Matrix:
Urgent And Important: Activities in this area relate to dealing with critical issues as they arise and meeting significant commitments. Perform these duties now.
Urgent, But Not Important: These chores do not move you forward toward your own goals. Manage by delaying them, cutting them short, and rejecting requests from others. Postpone these chores.
Not Urgent And Not Important: These trivial interruptions are just a distraction, and should be avoided if possible. However, be careful not to mislabel things like time with family and recreational activities as not important. Avoid these distractions altogether.
At times, requests from others may be important and need immediate attention. Often, however, these requests conflict with team values and take time away from working toward the team goals. Even if it is something the team would like to do, but simply don’t have the time for, it can be very difficult to say no. One approach in dealing with these types of interruptions is to use a Positive No, which comes in several forms.
Say no, followed by an honest explanation, such as, “I am uncomfortable doing that because…”
Say no and then briefly clarify your reasoning without making excuses. This helps the listener to better understand your position. Example: “I can’t right now because I have another project that is due by 5 pm today.”
Say no, and then give an alternative. Example: “I don’t have time today, but I could schedule it in for tomorrow morning.”
Empathetically repeat the request in your own words, and then say no. Example: “I understand that you need to have this paperwork filed immediately, but I will not be able to file it for you.”
Say yes, give your reasoning for not doing it, and provide an alternative solution. Example: “Yes, I would love to help you by filing this paperwork, but I do not have time until tomorrow morning.”
Provide an assertive refusal and repeat it no matter what the person says. This approach may be most appropriate with aggressive or manipulative people and can be an effective strategy to control your emotions. Example: “I understand how you feel, but I will not [or cannot]…” Remember to stay focused and not become sidetracked into responding to other issues.