Aug 9 2010
Time Management Strategies for Your Executive Career
Find Out How You Really Spend Your Time at Work
How long do you spend each day on unimportant things, things that don't really contribute to your success at your executive job? Do you KNOW how much time you've spent reading junk mail, talking to colleagues, making coffee and eating lunch? And how often have you thought, "I could achieve so much more if I just had another half hour each day?" Are you aware of when in the day you check your e-mail, write important articles or do your long-term planning?
Time management is critical for executives. Most executives find they function at different levels of effectiveness at different times of day as their energy levels fluctuate. Your effectiveness in your executive position may vary depending on the amount of sugar in your blood, the length of time since you last took a break, routine distractions, stress, discomfort, or a range of other factors.
Activity logs help you to analyze how you actually spend your time as an executive. The first time you use an activity log you may be shocked to see the amount of time that you waste! Memory is a very poor guide when it comes to monitoring your activity at work, as it can be too easy to forget time spent on non-core tasks. Good executive time management depends on an accurate real-world understanding of how time is spent.
How to Use Activity Logs for Executive Time Management
Keeping an activity log for several days helps you to understand how you spend your time, and when you perform at your best in your job, furthering your executive career opportunities at the same time. Without modifying your behavior any further than you have to, note down the things you do as you do them within this template. Every time you change activities, whether opening mail, meeting, on the phone, making coffee or talking casually with colleagues, note down the time of the change. Train yourself to monitor the way you move through the day at your executive position.
As well as recording activities, note how you feel, whether alert, flat, tired, energetic, etc. Do this periodically throughout the day. You may decide to integrate your activity log with a stress diary. This attention to how you feel is also a critical piece to effective executive time management.
Learning from Your Log to Improve Executive Job Performance
Once you have logged your time for a few days or a week, go back analyze the daily activity log for your job. You may be alarmed to see the amount of time you spend doing low value tasks that do nothing to further your executive career or the success of your company!
You may also see that you are energetic in some parts of the day, and flat in other parts. A lot of this can depend on the rest breaks you take, the times and amounts you eat, and quality of your nutrition. The activity log gives you some basis for experimenting with these variables.
Your executive time management analysis should help you to free up extra time in your day by applying one of the following actions to most activities:
- Eliminate tasks that your company shouldn't be paying you to do. These may include tasks that are not part of your job as an executive because someone else in the organization should be doing them, possibly at a lower pay rate, or personal activities such as sending non-work e-mails.
- Schedule your most challenging tasks for the times of day when your energy is highest. That way your work will be better and it should take you less time.
- Try to minimize the number of times a day you switch between types of task. For example, read and reply to e-mails in blocks once in the morning and once in the afternoon only.
- Reduce the amount of time spent on legitimate personal activities such as making coffee (take turns in your team to do this - it saves time and strengthens team spirit).
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The Ultimate Executive Career Guide: Connecting with Executive Search
As a senior-level executive, you can use this guide to:
- Learn about executive search and how it differs from other forms of recruiting
- Discover the best ways to connect with executive search professionals
- Understand how the search process works
- Implement strategies that will help you become visible to the search community
- And more!