Here’s the thing about time management: Not every second of every workday has to be “productive.” Oftentimes you can maximize your energy and productivity by taking breaks, delegating tasks, etc. This is especially important as a leader whose time is already stretched thing. That’s why we’ve compiled a few time management techniques for you to consider:
1. Breaks for Reflection
Give yourself breaks (even if they’re short) every 2-3 meetings. Sitting in back-to-back meetings all day can be exhausting and lead to meeting fatigue. A moment to recharge between meetings can help you remain fully engaged during each one. It also gives you space to reflect on next steps and make priority lists based on the meetings you just had so you can remain organized.
2. Pomodoro Technique
Francesco Cirillo’s Pomodoro technique can be a simple yet effective way to maintain productivity throughout the day. The goal is to work on a given task in short bursts of time. Between each burst, you can take a small break before starting the next. Utilize the short break for something simple like making a coffee or going for a 5-minute walk.
3. TIO Principle
The “Touch It Once” principle entails handling tasks the first time you look at them. That way they are not put on the back burner. When a task comes across your desk, decide if you have time to complete it right now or block off time on your calendar to complete it in the next couple of weeks. Delegate the task if you are not able to find time or if someone else would be better suited for it.
4. Schedule Sequencing
Be intentional with how you fill out your schedule each day of the week. Avoid too much context-switching within a day. For example, it can be beneficial to schedule all your recurring 1:1s with direct reports around the same time each week. This helps you remain in “coaching mode” for that duration rather than switching back and forth to your own tasks.
5. Personal Time Blocks
Not everything on your calendar needs to be a meeting with other people. Create a few chunks of “untouchable” personal time blocks. These are blocks on your calendar dedicated to the big things. Use them to work on high-impact projects that may normally be pushed to the side. Another good idea is having one meeting-free day per week for extra heads down time.
6. Matching Energy Levels
There are different times of day when people feel energetic and productive. For some it may always be the same time of day, for others it may fluctuate. Focus on the most difficult tasks when your energy levels are highest. Leave easier work for the moments when you are feeling tired. Being able to still accomplish something will help you feel refreshed and ready to tackle bigger things.
7. Limit Open-Door Time
If you find that people are constantly stopping by your desk with questions, this could be a crucial tactic for you. It can be distracting and difficult to get into a flow state when people frequently interrupt you. Rather than having an open-door policy all the time, set specific days or times that your door is open. That way team members will only come to you during that time and only with matters that require your attention.
8. Identify Time Hijackers
Keep an eye out for anything that might be hijacking too much of your time. It could be emails that steadily trickle into your inbox. Or any other type of notifications that come through frequently. You may find that it is best to continue what you are doing rather than tend to them right away. Stay focused on your priorities then set aside time at the end of your workday to go through all emails or notifications at once.
At the end of the day, we all manage time differently. Some of these strategies may work for you while others fall short. Find your own mix of time management tactics that help you remain focused, energized, and productive throughout the day!