There are never enough hours in a day to accomplish all we want to, and that’s especially true when you look at your manager’s list of tasks and try to fit every part of it into the day. Sometimes, it just can’t happen. Sometimes you have to prioritize and let some people down easy.
Even when you prune your list to the bare minimum, it still seems there aren’t enough hours in the work day to conquer it all. After all, sometimes things HAVE to be done. Your manager is needed in two places at once. A presentation needs to be completed, an RFP filed with an organization your company really wants to do business with. Time stops for no one.
Sometimes time management tips aren’t enough. If you need time management magic, here are some suggestions you and your manager might want to put into action:
Take 20 minutes every morning to plan your day – Sit down with your manager and your morning coffee and figure out what you need to do and when. Block your manager’s calendar, and dedicate the time blocked for the task to which it’s dedicated.
Don’t answer the phone or check your emails compulsively – Plan time for phone and email just like you would any other task, for both you and your manager. Phone and emails compete for attention with important projects, and they have to be prioritized as well. Unless you see someone very important pop up on your caller ID, let it go to voice mail.
Try establishing office hours for your staff and co-workers – Office hours, just like your professors had in college, are for planned interruptions. It’s an hour or two of your manager’s time when people can file in without an appointment and start that conversation that’s going to take 20 minutes of his time. This is a very successful habit I learned while I was at Google. Not only does it save your productivity time, it cuts down on other meetings your manager might be dragged into. Give it a try!
Hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your doorknob – If your manager is seen sitting “idle” he’s likely to be interrupted. Let everyone know he’s working on a project and need to focus. They’ll understand, and maybe they’ll adopt the habit, too!
Build in margin time – If you build slack time into your manager’s calendar, you’ll have something to go to when that important meeting comes up. It’s the breathing room he needs when meetings run over and unexpected issues rear their ugly heads.
Be the bulldog for meeting start and end times – Your manager might take an extra five minutes here or there to meet with someone, and it’s your job as the Revolutionary Assistant to make sure that meetings start and end on time. When the first meeting of the day runs 65 minutes, the next meeting has to start five minutes late (and probably end five minutes late, too!) Pretty soon, your manager’s stressed out and missing important face time with people on his calendar. Nip the “running over” in the bud to keep the stress at a minimum.
Keep your time estimates accurate – I’m forever being told to put 30 minutes on the calendar so that my manager can meet with our investors. Those meetings never run less than 45 minutes. I will purposely not book anything for 60 minutes just to make sure that he has enough time to have the conversation he needs to have. He underestimates that time, but I give him a much needed cushion.
If your manager is flying low in the office, these helpful hints might be just what he needs to come in for a stress-free landing and get some work done!
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