Process - Top Tips - Time management
This document is designed as a quick reference guide to Time Management.
This will enable you to gain knowledge of a particular skill, task or process.
This means you can quickly find the key information that you need and refer to it on an ongoing basis whenever you need to refresh your knowledge.
Contrary to many people’s beliefs, there is no one skill or technique of time management. Managing your time successfully consists of applying many techniques in the form of building blocks, to reach the same goal. These blocks include:
● Prioritising - doing the right things in the right order, using a To Do list
● Planning - allocating your time where it is needed, using your diary
● Delegation - don’t try to do everything yourself
● Running meetings – using effective meeting management skills
● Project management – longer term planning to complete larger tasks
● Assertiveness - saying No to protect your time
● Management style – do you manage and get heavily involved in task or lead and encourage your team to step up
What you need to know…
The Clock, the Compass and the three generations of time management
Our struggle to put first things first can be defined by the contrast between two powerful tools that direct us: the Clock and the Compass.
The Clock represents our commitments, in store activities, tasks and compliance’s, goals – what we do with and how we manage our time.
The Compass represents our vision, values, principles, mission, conscience, and direction – what we feel is important and how we lead our people and our lives. The struggle comes when we sense a gap between the clock and the compass – when what we do doesn’t contribute to what is most important.
In our effort to close the gap between the clock and the compass in our lives, many of us turn to time management. Let’s have a look at the three generations of time management. Each generation builds on the one before it and moves toward a greater efficiency and control. While reading through the generations you may recognise key traits that you relate to in your time management, the key to this is to work the strengths of each and recognise and avoid the weaknesses.
Process - Top Tips - Time management
First Generation - The first generation is based on reminders, it goes with the flow but tries to keep track of things you want to do with your time, complete a store walk, fill out the T&A, hold a briefing, check the figures hourly. Simple notes and checklists or processes usually build it. If you are in this generation you will carry these lists with you so you don’t forget to do them hopefully by the end of the day you will have completed all tasks on your list. If there are any undone you will put them on your list for tomorrow.
People in the first generation tend to be flexible, they respond to the changing needs, they are good at adapting and working things out – this is particularly useful in the ever-changing world of the Golf Equipment market. Some of the short falls of this generation is often things fall off the table, appointments are forgotten and commitments are not kept, without short, medium and long term goals, achievement and accomplishment are limited.
Second Generation - The second generation is one of planning and preparation, this based on calendars, keeping a diary personal or a store one.
Its efficiency is in personal responsibility, and achievement in goal setting, planning ahead and scheduling future activities i.e. peak season install, store refits, recruitment. If you are in this generation you make appointments, write down commitments and identify deadlines and may be note where your Scorecard meetings are held, you are likely to keep this in some form of diary.
People in the second-generation plan and prepare. They generally feel a higher level of personal responsibility to results and commitments. Calendars and diaries not only serve as reminders, but will encourage better preparation for store briefings, Score Card Meetings. They will use goal setting and planning to improve store performance and results. Although people in this generation sincerely value people and relationships, the need to schedule can lead to act as though other colleagues in store are an interruption or distraction that keep them from their schedule and may start to see people primarily as a resource.
Third Generation - The third generation is based on planning, prioritising and controlling. If you are in this generation you have probably spent time clarifying your values and priorities. You have asked yourself “what do I want?” You have set long, medium and short -term goals for your store. You prioritise your activities on a daily basis. This generation is based around planners and organisers, electronic as well as paper based – with detailed forms for daily planning and running of your store.
The results of this generation seem very promising, tying goals and plans together; people in this generation achieve sizeable gains in personal productivity. This generation seems to represent the ideal which in itself can have some draw backs, in this generation we look for flaws in-depth sometimes we can be so drawn and engrossed in our goals and the controlling of them and perfection. We sometimes make the fundamental error of not recognising was the goal the right goal to start with.
Have a think about a time in your store where there was a seemingly perfect plan that was followed through but the goal or outcome was not achieved.
How could you make sure your store plan represents the outcome goal of your store? And how much more time efficient and successful would your plan be if it was the right plan to achieve the goal to start with?
Simple Top Tips
Using the following top tips may help you to manage your time more effectively:
● Use your diary to plan time for meetings, phone calls, and preparation
● Display your prioritised task list.
● Block out time for yourself where appropriate
● Plan the long term first; periods before weeks before days.
● Keep a To Do list in your diary or separately
● Use pen for firm commitments, pencil for likely but unconfirmed items
● Observe necessary pleasantries, but limit non-essential social chat
● Stand when using the phone - you will take less time and sound more business-like.
● Call back if appropriate, if you need to find information for the caller
● Clarify information by asking questions and repeating details
● Make notes, and use a notepad, not scrap paper
● If a caller asks for ‘the manager’, you may not be the best person to deal with it – have the person who answers the call find out the reason and pass it to the right person to deal with.
● Plan outgoing calls before you start; make notes of what you want to say
● Keep a note of non-urgent calls to make - you may find you can speak to someone once rather than several times by listing topics
● Batch calls together– make as many as you can in one go
● Have routine tasks to do whilst waiting to be connected
● Delegate to your team calls to be made, especially routine calls
● Handle each incoming piece of paper only once - action it, pass it on, file it, or bin it. Mark it each time you handle it, perhaps with a tick in the corner, to give you an idea of how often you look at it.
Classify post as:
● For action - If you can deal with it completely and it will be quick and beneficial, then do so. If not, add it to your task list and set it to one side in priority order to deal with at an appropriate time.
● For information - Scan it and either set it aside to read in detail at an appropriate time, pass it on, file it, or bin it.
● Whereas written correspondence to customers should be of the highest standard to maintain a professional image, internal correspondence if written at all should be as brief as possible:
● Wherever possible, but only within the business, write replies or comments directly onto paperwork and return it to the sender.
● Do not pursue perfection for its own sake. The only exceptions are items such as people’s names and product numbers, where errors can cause confusion and waste time and effort.
● Use bullet points for brevity and clarity.
Process - Top Tips - Time management
● When doing paperwork, keep a clear desk - remove everything unrelated to the task you are working on otherwise you will be distracted and waste time looking for things.
● If you are right-handed, keep the ‘phone on your left to keep your writing hand free, and vice-versa.
● Clear your desk completely each evening to give you a good start next day.
● Have a clipboard to keep documents together and easily portable
Your role may be very reactive, especially when many things require a manager’s authorisation to be completed and interruptions become the rule rather than the exception. However, you can reduce these by:
● Encouraging your team to save non-urgent items until their next OTOM, if this is not too far away – but honour commitments to these.
● If a person asks for time when you’re busy, arrange time for later.
● If a person asks for time you can spare, specify how long you have.
● Being assertive and saying no, but soften this by giving an alternative
● Remember you can be ruthless with time and gracious with people.
● Be aware of your body language – what impression does it convey?
● Plan reading time into your day or week.
● Try to speed read or scan - it is often sufficient to gain the sense of an article rather than to read it in detail, and it is a lot quicker.
● As you scan, use a highlighter on those items you need to find again.
● Don‘t stop to read junk mail just because it might be of interest – once you’ve established what it is, bin it immediately.
● When faced with a long report, read the introduction and conclusion or summary, and only read the content if you need to, skipping the bits that are of no interest to you.
● If the report contains printouts or table of figures, read the column and row headings to decide which figures are likely to be of interest to you, and skim or ignore the rest.
● If one figure looks abnormal, check only the figures it relates to find the reason, not the whole table.
● If you commute by public transport, try using this time to read trade press and similar ‘for information’ - but not confidential - items.
● Take some reading material to scan when you go to meet someone, as if they are delayed, you can then use the time productively.
You may have part of your filing system dictated to you, such as weekly boxes for paperwork. Where you can choose your method, there are many different filing systems you could use, such as alphabetical, numerical, supplier, product, subject, etc.; the best is the one that works for you.
● The smaller your filing system, the more useful it is likely to be – items are easier to find and more likely to be relevant.
● The best place to file something is where you would first think to look for it.
● Your most useful file is the waste bin!
● Keep frequently used documents near to hand.
● Label documents clearly to identify what they are and where they belong.
Procrastination – ‘putting it off’
● Do difficult or unpleasant tasks first to get them out of the way.
● If it’s quicker to do it than add it to your list, then do it now.
● Break the job down into small pieces you can finish quickly.
● Start it now – once started the job will seem smaller.
● Identify what’s good enough to get the result, and don’t spend hours checking and redoing to achieve perfection where there is no need.
● Give yourself a ‘reward’ for completing the task.
● Get a colleague to follow up and monitor progress with you.
If you really want to know where your time goes, try keeping a time log of how long you spend doing what, for a typical day or week; the results may surprise you. However, don’t let this become obsessive, or completing the log may take more time than you save!