There are lots of books, blogs and gurus on the topic of time management. Many have very good advice. This is no surprise since, as we have noted (as plenty of others have), time is the one resource you can not buy, borrow, or inventory. Time is the one resource everyone needs in order to make a difference. Learning to manage one’s time is the necessary first step in becoming an effective manager.
In recent work with clients on time management, we have taken a new tack on this old problem. Before we even begin to do the necessary work of logging time usage, pruning unnecessary meetings, reports, and so on, we have encouraged clients to simply seize a block of time during the week and get to work on the really important things they feel they need to do to improve their contribution to their company.
It works like this. Look at the next week’s calendar and mark off one or better two hours on some day where there is nothing now scheduled or their are meetings or tasks that really can be skipped. Send an email around to everyone who reports to you announcing the time for your Private Work session. Tell them that you will be working on an important initiative and that barring a fire, you are not to be disturbed until the session is over.
When the hour arrives put a sign on your door or at the entrance to your cubicle, “Private Work Session – Do Not Disturb“. Turn off your email, instant messaging, cell phone, Blackberry, or any other communication device that can interrupt. Sit down at your desk or worktable and get to work on that project that you have not gotten to because of all the other “important” tasks in your day-to-day work life.
Managers who have taken the step to seize their own time have found that they make real progress on their projects and the company does not grind to a halt. They become daring and schedule two or three hours for the next week. Seizing personal work time also energizes their efforts to really learn how to manage their time. They already can see that they can make real progress working on the future of the company instead of constantly balled up in the day-to-day activties of the company. It is a demonstration of the power of spending significant time working on your company instead of just in it.