Highlights from her workshop, 7 Time Management Best Practices of Highly Productive Leaders by Kathryn McKinnon, Harvard Business School Executive Coach, Time Management Expert, Speaker and Author.
Do you have enough time?
Like most executives, you probably believe you don’t have enough time; however, did you know that within the last Century, we’ve actually gained extra time? The emergence of many new technologies in all industries has created vast efficiencies in our productivity and reduced the amount of time and effort it takes to do many of our tasks and jobs. Add to this breakthroughs in healthcare that have increased our life expectancy to roughly 85 years, and the fact that it’s estimated that 1 in 9 baby boomers will live to be 100. So if you’re near retirement age, you may have another 30 years of productive life ahead of you!
The reality is we’re gaining more time, not less. The issue is not whether we have enough time. The real issue is how we choose to spend the time we have.
We all have the same 24 hours every day, yet some leaders are so much more productive with their time. Whether or not you believe you have enough time to get it all done, the simple truth is no one was born knowing how to manage time; Time management is a skill anyone can learn!
For over 20 years, I’ve coached hundreds of executives, leaders and business owners. I’ve also had the privilege of interviewing some of the most highly productive executives and business leaders to understand what makes them so productive. Today I’m sharing 7 of their Time Management Best Practices and productivity secrets.
You have sales, operational and financial systems. Why don’t you have a time management system to monitor your productivity and measure the results you get with your time?
Highly Productive Leaders incorporate Time Management Best Practices into their daily schedule to create an effective Time Management System.
If you want to gain more productive time every day, follow these Time Management Best Practices to create a Time Management System that works for you:
1. Develop a Mindset for Success with Your Time
Highly Productive Leaders understand their thinking has an influence on their ability to get the best results with their time. Notice your thoughts. Are they supportive and productive? You may be worried about sales, costs, facilities, employees, vendors, projects and customers. Worry is just a distraction that keeps you off balance. It won’t help you reach your goals.
You control your thoughts and how you spend your time. If you’re worried about something ask yourself, “What can I do to change this situation?” If you can’t do anything to change it, let it go. Focus on your goals and your success versus your potential failure. You’ll reach your goals faster and gain control over your time.
2. Plan Your Day and Measure the Results
Highly productive leaders create a game plan to know where they’re going. They start each day the night before knowing their priorities for the following day. They keep track of how they spend their time. They pay attention to what’s stopping them from reaching their goals and what they need to do to take action, get back on track and move the needle forward. They monitor the results they achieve with their time.
3. Set Yourself up for Easy Wins Every Day
Highly productive leaders review their daily priorities, choose the most urgent that will take the least amount of time and spend some time doing some of the fastest tasks on their priority list—a quick email response or phone call.
Because it’s easier to make the mental transition from one activity to another if the task is similar, they stack meetings and activities to prevent wasted time between activities and to increase productivity.
These leaders do email following my 6-12-6 Rule, scheduling blocks of time to do email in the morning, mid-day and at days’ end. One of my clients was spending 4 hours a day on email and couldn’t get his most important work done. After analyzing the way he was spending his time, we discovered 60% of the email he was working on wasn’t related to his highest priorities. I taught him an Email System incorporating the 6-12-6 Rule to help him do his email and accomplish his most important work. This simple change in his routine gained him 2 hours of productive time each day!
4. Stay Focused on Your Goals and Priorities
Our ability to focus attention on a task is crucial for achieving goals; however, according to research, the average attention span of a healthy adult today is just 20 minutes.
The most productive leaders stay focused on their goals by prioritizing their goals and breaking large projects into smaller tasks to avoid procrastination and feeling overwhelmed by too much information. If you’re spending critical time doing tasks that are not related to your true priorities, you won’t get your best work done. To stay focused, do your most critical tasks while your mind is sharp and energy is high. You’ll end your day with a greater feeling of accomplishment.
5. Let your Calendar Run your Day
Highly productive leaders don’t let their day randomly run their calendar. They consolidate all personal and professional activities and block time for each activity into one capture system in 15-minute increments to identify their real available time. This prevents double-booking or missed events and helps them stick to their calendar.
6. Focus on Activities Equal to the Value of Your Time
What’s your time worth? Highly productive leaders know that if their time is worth $100 an hour, they shouldn’t be spending time doing $10 an hour jobs. Calculate what your time is worth. If you need help, there’s a simple exercise in my book, Triple Your Time Today on Amazon. It will open your eyes and make you think twice before taking on activities that aren’t worth your time.
7. Set Expectations and Boundaries with Your Time
Researchers at the University of California, Irvine monitored interruptions among office workers and found that a typical manager gets only 11 minutes between interruptions, while it takes an average of 25 minutes to return your focus to the original task after an interruption.
If you’re constantly being interrupted during the day, how much time are you losing and what is it costing you?
Throughout their day, highly productive leaders ask themselves if how they’re spending time is their priority or someone else’s. If it’s someone else’s, they know they need to set boundaries with their time and say “No.” When they need to focus without interruption, they block out time to work on high priority projects and tune out distractions. Some hang a sign on their door or near their desk asking not to be interrupted. If someone interrupts them, they suggest scheduling a time to talk.
Highly productive leaders plan for interruptions and schedule time into their calendar for unanticipated urgent meetings, calls and emergencies during the day. The beauty of this is that the block of time becomes a bonus of free time if the day evolves without interruption.
They take a holistic approach to managing their time and realize the importance of maintaining a healthy mind, body, spirit and emotional state. They take time for themselves, celebrate their success and they don’t take time for granted.
Make these Time Management Best Practices your new Time Management System so you can become more Productive and get the best results with your time.
Now it’s time to take action. If you commit to using just one of these Time Management Best Practices for at least 30 days, you’ll begin to create your own Time Management System. You’ll be more productive and gain more time for your highest priorities. You’ll solve your time management challenges and have time to reach your goals.
If you change the way you spend your time, you’ll change your life!
Kathryn McKinnon is a Harvard Business School executive coach, time management expert, best selling author, speaker and CEO of McKinnon & Company dedicated to helping executives, leaders and business owners achieve the best results with their time. More time management best practices are found in her best selling book, Triple Your Time Today! on Amazon, in her Executive Coaching, Signature Talk and Training Program 7 Time Management Best Practices of Highly Productive Leaders. If you want to discover ways to reduce the chaos and stress, boost your energy, improve your efficiency and consistently gain more productive time, Kathryn solves this. Contact her today at support@Kathryn-McKinnon.com.