For any leader, juggling multiple tasks is a given. Whether you’re a first-time leader or a veteran you will always have a host of things on your plate to tend to in the 24-hour time frame, every day. From managing subordinates to strategic planning to decision-making and more, you have enough to keep yourself busy. However, some leaders feel that their day goes by and they are still left with a lot of pending tasks, which then spill over to the next day. Unless you’re a pro at time management, this cycle can go on endlessly.
Here’s a list of the most common time management mistakes you make and how you can fix them.
Not setting goals
The importance of setting goals – for yourself as well as your team/organization – cannot be highlighted enough. Without specific goal(s), you will feel like a fish out of water. Setting specific goals gives you a direction to work towards. When you know the direction you want to go in, it becomes that much easier to prioritize, manage your tasks and time. Irrespective of which level of leadership you’re in, you must always set personal goals for yourself that are in alignment with the organizational goals. Working to meet your personal goals will ultimately help you meet organizational goals as well.
Lack of planning
Planning is an essential element of time management. Be it the day, week, month, year or a specific task or project, unless you plan well, you will not progress much. This holds true all the more for leaders considering the amount of important tasks and projects they have on hand. Time is always limited and therefore, extremely valuable. You can be an effective leader only if you use plan well and use time to your advantage. Give it a thought – when you have a solid plan before you, your ability to focus increases manifold and you’re better able to make decisions and keep things under control. Planning helps you have a control over your time while not planning makes time control you, eventually leading to stress.
Not maintaining a to-do list
Many leaders seem averse to the idea of maintaining a to-do list, giving flimsy excuses like, “I’m always on the move; how can I keep making a note of all the tasks for the day?”, or “I’m a leader; I will remember what I have to do.” Just because you are a leader doesn’t mean you are a superhuman. Your brain has limitations. If you find it difficult to maintain a to-do list then take notes on your phone. After all, there is no dearth of technology to help you keep a track of your tasks. Every interaction (face-to-face, telephonic, emails, or video conferencing) you have during the day leads to a number of action points – sometimes for yourself and sometimes for you to delegate to your subordinates. Therefore, it becomes important for you to keep making a note of those points so you don’t miss out anything important. Imagine a leader saying, “I forgot that task because I didn’t make a note of it.” Doesn’t sound good, right?
Taking on too much on yourself instead of delegating
There are some leaders who do not like to say no, thereby getting more work added on to their plate. As a leader, it is extremely important for you to understand that delegation is a method that will not only help you to free up your time to focus on the most important things, but also a way for your subordinates to become more responsible. Leaders who cannot delegate always keep doing tasks that could easily have been done by their subordinates. This leaves them with barely any time to devote to the important work. Besides, it results in an unhealthy atmosphere at the workplace.
Another big mistake you might be making is micromanaging your team. You may be a leader who has delegated work to his subordinates, but if you continue to micromanage what the subordinate is doing on that particular task, you end up making delegation ineffective. It unnecessarily eats into your time, leads to a feeling of resentment towards you in your subordinates, and ultimately doesn’t help them grow either. Unless, a subordinate specifically asks for help, avoid the urge to give inputs and direct your subordinates on how to do their work.
Not taking breaks
Because leaders have so much to do through the day, they often tend to overlook the importance of taking breaks. They move from one important meeting to another without giving themselves the time to switch off from the previous meeting. This leads to information overload on the brain, making you feel stressed. So, start taking mini breaks for it will help you to focus better.
It is important for leaders to recognize and avoid these common time management mistakes to become more effective as professionals and leaders!