Time Management at Work
How to reduce your work overload
Overworked and overwhelmed and maybe under paid. Do you sometimes feel one or all of these at your work? Time Management at Work is becoming more critical everyday. It seems people are expected to do more, get better results, but have less resources and budgets. And somehow we are meant to have some work-life balance.
We have found most people can significantly improve their time management at work. The same core principles apply to getting control of time regardless of whether you are at work or for life in general (check out our Time Management Skills Page for the 4 core skills). There are though some very specific aspects to time management at work that can make your life less overwhelming and more fulfilling.
There are many aspects to getting control of time at work. We will start here with five key strategies that have had the biggest impact for our clients. These are:
Agree on and document with your manager your performance measures and targets
Decide what key activities will get you to these targets and do them
Say no to tasks that have little impact on your targets
Reduce the time taken by interruptions
Get really clear about what is the next action
There are many more strategies that will improve your time management at work and we will be writing about these in the future. If you are in sales or if you manage people come back soon to see our suggestions for you.
Let's look at strategy number 1 in more detail.
1. Agree on and document with your manager your performance measures and targets.
Most people don't think about this approach when trying to improve their time management at work. We have found it to have THE BIGGEST impact on getting control of your time. It seems that most people don't really know what's expected of them at work. Not specifically. They know in general what their job involves. They know the broad expectation of what they are supposed to do. But most people don't know exactly what their boss uses to measure their performance at work. To me this is like playing football without a scoreboard. Do you really know how your team performed?
One of the reasons people are not clear about what their performance is measured on is because most of the time the managers don't know either. BUT, be ware -- your manager is always assessing your performance, consciously and subconsciously. When you (and your manager) don't know the specific performance measures it's like playing football with invisible goals or goals that move all the time!
When you are not clear about what is important and what you will be measured on everything seems important -- so you feel you have to do everything. When everything HAS to be done, then you get in a state of overworked, overwhelm. Your time management at work will improve dramatically when you are very clear about what your performance measures are. Now you only HAVE to do the tasks that impact on your performance measures. The other stuff can fit in around that.
So, what you need to do is to make a time to talk to you manager and have a discussion about your performance measures and targets. This is a TWO-WAY discussion. You need to express your thoughts and feeling about what you should be measured on. You then need to come to an agreement, have that documented and, I suggest, signed by both of you.
Here are some questions to discuss:
- What are the 5 most important measures of my performance?
- What are my targets for these measures?
- What resources do I have and what training will I ge to to help me achieve these
- If I meet all of these targets does that mean I have performed above expectations?
There is one major reason why people don't implement this strategy to improve their time management at work -- they are afraid! Afraid of .... accountability and failure. You see if you and your manager are very clear on your performance measures and targets, then it is also clear whether you meet them or not. When you are not clear, you think that you are avoiding this accountability. And in some ways you do, but in the long run you don't, because businesses and managers are always assessing performance. The difference in what I am suggesting is whether you know how you are being measured or whether you prefer not to know and hope everything will be alright.
You will find there are many benefits from knowing what you are being measured on at work. In particular you will be able to improve your time management at work. In fact I suggest that it is almost impossible to have good time management at work without knowing what your performance will be measured on. Good luck at the meeting with your manager.
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