One of the most difficult things that leaders struggle with is having enough time in one day to complete all of their tasks. And when it comes to startups and small companies, this problem can be amplified.
How come? Well, one of the main reasons behind this challenge is that leaders often take on too much, often out of necessity, especially in the early days of their company. If you’ve heard the horror stories of 80-hour work weeks and thought that surely, that was an exaggeration, it’s definitely not. Some leaders stretch themselves so thin that only a cup of strong coffee stands between their work day and giving into the pressure. This is one of the supporting reasons that a recent study shows that 66% of leaders experience burnout — eventually.
But, the good news is that there are plenty of time management tips to ensure that leaders have some options when it comes to planning their days and scheduling their tasks. Let’s look at how some very busy leaders manage to be efficient, productive and still engage their teams.
1. Delegation Is Your Friend
We’ve already mentioned that most leaders possess an entrepreneurial outlook. And one thing that many entrepreneurs have difficulty doing is delegating. Most startup founders and the like find it incredibly difficult to take things off their plates, as they’ve been in the habit of doing most things themselves.
Greg Gillman of MuteSix adds, “Though a challenge for many, delegation is crucial to achieving your career goals, especially if you’re high up at the top. While you may think the opposite, it’s actually not responsible, as a leader, to try to take on projects yourself simply out of fear that others won’t get the job done as well as you. Trust that you hired each of your team members for a good reason and that with a little encouragement and direction, they will execute your vision. Once you invest some time in training them, you will then have much more bandwidth to apply your most valuable skills where others cannot step in.”
2. Set Goals That Actually Make Sense
Of course, everyone knows that the entire time management process can revolve around setting and achieving goals. However, setting goals that are obviously not within your reach can be a huge deterrent. Not only will it be discouraging for you as a leader when you don’t meet them, but it can hurt the morale of your entire team. And when employee retention is at an all-time low, it’s definitely not a great time to have members of your team feeling badly about their roles and their overall productivity.
According to Lindsay McCormick of Bite, she continues, “Achieving your career goals can take a lot of time, but as long as you properly and effectively manage that time, then you can find yourself on the fast track to success. Set a list of goals that you hope to achieve, and work toward each one until you have the results that you’re after. Set aside the proper amount of time for each goal, or falling short can become very discouraging. Also, start with individual tasks within the larger goal. That way, with each completed item, you’ll find yourself ever closer to a positive outcome.”
3. Tackle Your Most Difficult Tasks First
When your day begins, and you are looking down what appears to be a seemingly endless list of tasks, it’s easy to be tempted to do the shorter, less-complicated tasks first. That way, you can check items off the list in a much quicker fashion.
However, that may not be the best way to be efficient and productive. David Hatfield from Body & Soul Personal Training suggests, “When your brain is still functioning at full capacity, and you have the energy that comes from a healthy breakfast, and perhaps even a start-of-the-day workout session, that’s the ideal environment for completing more difficult, time-intensive tasks. If you can take on those projects first thing in the morning, then it’ll make it easier to complete the shorter, easier tasks when your brain is getting ready for the end of the day, and you’ve exhausted your creative ideas.”
4. Take Sufficient Breaks When You Need Them Most
If you’re getting to that point where you’re losing focus and could potentially make mistakes, then it’s officially the right time to take a break. Now, “taking a break” doesn’t mean pausing for a few minutes and clearing your head. You’ll need to get up from your desk, move around the room, and maybe even take a short walk or do some yoga stretches.
Scott Hogan of SaltWrap explains, “If you work primarily behind a desk all day, it’s imperative to get in as much motion as possible. After all, around 60% of adults note that they experience leg cramps at night. Sitting for too long can create a myriad of physical problems, and in these uncertain times, it’s crucial that we take every initiative we can to stay healthy.”
In the end, proper time management could just be the most important thing to acquire as a manager. As you already know, your entire team often takes cues from the processes that you use, and the productivity that you inspire. So, be transparent with your time management efforts, and even share some regular tips with your employees. Before long, you’ll see your overall efficiency go through the roof!