As a busy manager, getting everything that needs doing accomplished in a day can seem like trying to push water uphill. There's always another phone message to return or email that needs an urgent response.
Making a conscious effort to manage your daily business tasks and give them some order will help you get more done.
If you want to see your to-do list completed at the end of the day, what are some things you can do to get your tasks completed? Here are four tips for doing just that:
1. Make a list and prioritize it
It sounds simple, but making a list is an important start! You can use task management software, email yourself, or simply crack out some pen and paper. Write down what you absolutely must get done today so you can plan your day and workflow around it.
Making a list is just the start, however; you'll also need to prioritize it.
Don't make the common mistake of starting your day with the easiest tasks. The harder tasks won't get any easier as the day goes by, and you'll get more tired and less able to tackle them.
Start your day with the big, important tasks, and leave the smaller ones for later.
2. Cut back on meetings
As the article 7 tips for busy managers says, it can seem like the bulk of your job is attending meetings.
Meetings can quickly suck up your time and energy, leaving you feeling like you've been very busy but not accomplished as much as you wanted to. Some meetings are necessary, but think carefully about which ones. Could some be replaced with a quick email or face-to-face chat? Could some be held less frequently?
Set aside a specific time for necessary meetings.
For example, choose one morning a week and try to schedule necessary meetings together then. Meetings grouped together this way will eat into your time much less than meetings scattered throughout the week.
3. Set aside time for emails and phone calls
The email notification sound can be a manager's worst enemy.
Constantly stopping work to read emails or return phone calls quickly chips away at your time. Before you know it, the day is over and you've done a lot of "busy work" but not much real work.
Instead, try allotting a time to deal with email and phone calls. If you're worried about missing something important, you can schedule more than one "communications" session throughout the day - but do stick to those times.
4. Embrace delegation
Delegation is part of the remit of a manager, yet many managers fail to delegate, or don't delegate as much as they could.
Delegation is vital if you want to free up some time to focus on important tasks: The trick to making delegation work for you is to do so intelligently, and to ensure your staff has what they need to carry out their delegated tasks.
When choosing tasks to delegate, start with those you know are your weaknesses. By handing those tasks to employees who are stronger in them than you, you'll save yourself both time and stress.
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Be honest about your strengths and the strengths of your team, to help you decide which tasks should be passed on, and to whom.
Delegation will be a lot smoother if you put in the time to make sure your staff has the skills and knowledge they need to carry out the tasks you give them. Some training now can save a lot of time spent re-iterating instructions later.
Appointing a responsible employee that staff can turn to with questions will minimize interruptions once a task is delegated.
Bottom line: Being a manager is a balancing act. By taking conscious charge of your time and tasks you can enjoy more productive days and more time spent on the tasks that really matter.
About the Author: Tristan Anwyn is an author who writes on a range of topics including social media, SEO that works, and how to manage your time effectively.
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