Time is every manager's most important non-renewable resource. Here are some proven tips for making the most of the time you have:
Bear down on one or two projects. Studies show that, throughout the day, the average supervisor refocuses his or her attention onto something new about every 8 minutes. You can stay focused on most tasks a little longer. Reserve an hour each day for your most important task, and refuse all interruptions during this period.
Leave your desk for a quiet place to concentrate for 15 to 30 minutes at a time. And lessen the impact of interruptions by making an appointment to work on the new matter later.
Let others do your less important work. Get in the habit of asking: "Do I really need to do this myself?" When the answer is "no" or even "maybe not," start training two or three members of your team to do the work instead of you.
Show them how you do it. Give them background information. Let them assist you and get a feel for the task. As soon as one of these trainees is ready, help him or her get started on a task without a tight deadline. Be sure you provide all the resources needed to do the job effectively. Keep training more people to do the work, and look for more tasks you can delegate.
Pick and choose your opportunities. Many supervisors try to keep everyone happy by listening to every suggestion and complaint, working on every proposal, and saying "yes" to every request for help. But this quickly becomes a formula for overwork, overcommitment and burnout.
To prevent this, pick and choose your most important responsibilities and opportunities by asking yourself, "Is this the best use of my time right now?" Maintain a list of your most important responsibilities, and compare each opportunity to this list before you spend any time on it. Establish less time-consuming ways for people to give you suggestions, make complaints and ask for special favors— specialized forms, for example, or an "open floor" period within your regular.