Time Management: Where Does Our Time Go?

Time management is a big concern for a lot of women leaders.

I keep hearing, “There are just not enough hours in the day…” or “Where does my time go?” As you turned the calendar page to a new month, did you wonder this yourself? As we emerge out of the pandemic, we’re suddenly inundated by all the things again.

One of my clients told me recently that she needed better time management and asked if I could help her.  She shared that she is managing a new team with three new supervisors who need her help learning the business and she’s spread too thin.

In fact, she’s spread so thin that one of her new direct reports was ready to quit on the spot because he felt like she wasn’t helping him when he needed help. My client, herself, was struggling because she had no time to even think during the day. All of the pressure was building and there seemed to be no relief.

A typical week

I first wanted her to take a look at what her typical week looks like. She listed out what she did from the beginning of her day to the end of it throughout the week. This list helped her see everything on her plate so that she could evaluate it all.

Filling in the days

Then, my client took a piece of paper and drew three columns. In the first column she put a list of all appointments, meetings, or commitments that are “set in stone”, things that take place at a set time and happen daily, weekly or monthly, such as staff meetings, board meetings, one-on-one meetings, etc. In the second column, she put “flexible” tasks or commitments that could be done around her “set in stone” commitments, such as working on the KPIs for next year or having lunch with a friend. In the third column, she put those “occasional” appointments or meetings that didn’t fall into the other two columns.

Then, using a blank sheet of paper for each day, she started by putting the “set in stone” items on the specific day of the week. Next, she added the flexible items. Last, she added the occasional items in around the other things. Her goal was to balance out her days to maximize her time.

Doing too much

I then asked her to consider whether she was doing too much. No matter how well we manage our time, we can still overload our commitments. Time management is not just about structuring our weeks so we can get everything accomplished; it is also about creating a manageable schedule that will give us time for the important things to us. One thing that is very important to my client is 15 minutes during the day to think about what needs to get done. As we coached through this, my client told me that she tried blocking time at the end of the day when the crises seemed to die down, but she always gave up those 15 minutes because she would rather pack up for the day, than use it to think about how to tackle some of the things on her plate. She decided to use the first 15 minutes of the day for this, instead. As a bonus, she would also add in another 15 minutes to actually get one big thing done, because she realized that she felt better when she accomplished something at the start of the day. To give her some time back, she was able to forego weekly one-on-ones with her direct reports for a group meeting, since they were all at the same place in her career and they used a messaging system to communicate with each other throughout the day.

When we ended our coaching session, my client walked away feeling like she could manager her schedule again, instead of her schedule managing her.

Work with me

Being run down and worn-out will not assist you in better time management, in fact it will hinder it. If you need help managing your time right now, click here and schedule a time to talk about how I can help you.

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