Own Your Time
People that know me well understand I am religious about controlling my time — I protect it aggressively. It comes from a commitment I made years ago to be intentional about what I am doing. That mindset has enabled me to think proactively about my calendar and what I should be doing with my time.
I’ve had many conversations with clients about “time management”. I explain that their time should be mainly focused on high-impact activities. What I understand is: the way you spend your time reflects what matters most to you.
Tweak Your Process
Now is a good time to revisit your process:
- Examine – Take 15 minutes daily to review your calendar and look ahead weekly, monthly, quarterly.
- Decide – Ask yourself: “What are the high-impact activities that I need to accomplish in each period?”. In The Time Trap, their research showed Director level and higher roles tended to spend as much as 30% of their typical day on planning, and 20% organizing (strategic and tactical).
- Eliminate – We get overwhelmed when we continue to add to our plate, but don’t take time to remove things from our plate. Pro-Tip: To maximize your time, plan six (6) months ahead what you will eliminate. (The High-Potential Leader, Ram Charan, Geri Willigan)
- Buffer – Sometimes in our planning process, we don’t account for interruptions and emergencies. We often plan for the day/week to go perfectly. But that is rarely the case. Although we own our time, we do need to be available to deal with what is happening in real-time. So don’t max out your day planning for it to go perfectly. Consider there will be interruptions and emergencies. Create a time buffer in your schedule so that your plan for the day is not derailed. Plan for the out-of-nowhere urgent asks, unscheduled calls, and drop-in visitors.
If you are looking to advance, look at how you are spending your time and adjust your focus so that you are working on high-impact activities appropriate for your level. Planning and organizing are part of your “day job”. Make good use of your time and you will find you are better able to handle what is happening outside of your control. As your role evolves – so should your time management practice. Own your time.