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Stay on track during your workday

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Centerpiece,Leaders & Managers

stopwatch and to-do listTime doesn’t organize itself. That’s your job. To squeeze the most out of every minute, scrutinize your workday.

Follow these guidelines:

√ Apply the “delegate test.” Audit your activities during a typical day. For each task, ask yourself, “Can I delegate this?”

Examine whether someone else is better equipped to handle the activity. It helps if you maintain a two-column list of the critical items that you must tackle along with the remaining tasks that you can and should delegate.

√ Plug your skill gaps. Leaders often attribute their success to their eagerness to surround themselves with people “who are smarter than me.” Identify areas in which you lack expertise (in legal or technical areas, for example) and recruit qualified self-starters to fill these holes. That will free you to focus on what you do best.

√ Avoid the ivory tower. Spend too much time in your office and you’ll lose touch with the innards of your business. It’s better to allocate a few hours a month to roll up your sleeves, don work gear and labor alongside your in-the-trenches employees.

You’ll motivate staffers who appreciate your interest in their work. And you’ll get an unvarnished look at your core operations. Example: Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz devotes time to touring coffee plantations and even serving customers in stores.

√ Spell out who does what by when. End staff meetings by reviewing who is accountable for which tasks. Specify deadlines. Leave no room for ambiguity.

By explaining to each employee, “Do X by Y time, and here’s how I’ll measure your performance,” you save time and hassles. Everyone knows what’s expected and what priorities come first.

— Adapted from “5 Time Management Tips for CEOs,” Maren Kate Donovan, www.chiefexecutive.net.

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