Under the heading of “simple things outstanding managers do well” would be managing your own time. As a manager or executive, you’re managing other people’s efforts, their time and focus, and what they do or don’t get done.
Hard to do when you can’t get your own act together. So let’s take a look at your calendar together, shall we?
You calendar is empty, but you’re always busy -
This one is hard, because changing your behavior is hard. I’m guessing that your day consists of constant interruptions, fire-fighting, and wondering how the heck you got 500 e-mails in your in-box. You might be going home every night wondering what you got done, and how another day slipped by without getting that thing you really needed to do done.
You’re going to have to learn to say no. You’re going to have to develop the discipline to do that things that need doing, and not be interrupted. You’re going to have to focus.
You’re going to have to trust your people to solve their own problems, and you and they are going to have to learn that they can get along without you for the most part. You are going to have to decide what not to do. Will they still need you? Will you still be there to coach, mentor, and development them? Absolutely. But on your schedule, not theirs.
Let’s start simply What is the most important thing you need to get done this week? Find your big rock, and put it in your calendar. Block enough time for you to do the task. Now here’s the real secret:
When your calendar says it time to work on that thing – work on that thing!
Consider your calendar the future record of how you’re fulfilling your professional obligations. Lock the door, hide in another office, tell people to go away. Be rude if you have to. Don’t let anybody else fill your calendar with meetings either*. Do whatever you need to get that one thing done.
This is your promise to yourself to finish something. You’ve got as far as you have in your professional career because you do what you said you were going to do. What changed? Nobody can control how you spend your time except you (and your boss). It’s your choice.
Once you have the getting one thing a week down, and a second, then a third thing. But start with one. It’ll be good practice for thinking about how you spend your time.
Your calendar is 100% full, and what’s wrong with that.
* Learn how to turn off Outlook e-mail notifications
* Learn how to stop people from scheduling meetings in your calendar (you want to un-select in this case)