Time Management Tips to Help You Get Ahead!


Time management is an issue for many people and a common focus in leadership coaching.

We are all faced with problems of having too much to do in too little time.  Endless emails to respond to, a ‘to do’ list as long as your arm, people waiting for a response, disputes to resolve, responses to send and a mountain of required reading. How familiar does this sound?  We could work every hour in the day and still not get to the end of it all.

Various methods for dealing with this have been put forward over the years, such as work smarter (what exactly does that mean?), to prioritize and make a list.

Well OK, I’ve shuffled my list into priority order, but does this really solve what I need to do? This list is still just as long. The same assumption is there – that I will complete it all at some point in time and get to the least important last.

A colleague of mine years ago, who shall remain nameless, responded only to emails or messages that were sent twice. Her theory was that if it was important enough to be sent twice she would deal with it. I’m sure there was some reasoning in this method. Not one I would recommend though!

When I first became a leader I used to prioritize tasks on a list and cross off those completed with a great sense of achievement. Then each day I seemed to spend a lot of time transferring items from yesterday’s list to the next day … and the next! This process really made me laugh, nervously obviously, as I knew I was attempting the unachievable. And not getting anything completed was not a laughing matter when you’re a new leader. It is very challenging.

So what is a manageable way of dealing with all the information, demands and issues that come your way each day?


First, some considerations:

The first thing to consider is if you try to deal with everything you will most likely ‘fail’. It’s better to do some things well than try to do everything less than well, or never getting to them.

No one will thank you for having’ burnt out’ from attempting the unachievable. However, you will be respected for managing to deliver on time after having thoroughly prepared.

When  you acknowledge your limits and manage the ever growing demands on your time confidently, you will begin to feel proactive in your time management, rather than continually chasing your tail.

Everyone has the same number of hours in the day so how do some manage to achieve more and yet not appear to be overwhelmed?


Here are some tips for managing your work load each day:

First thing each day check emails, scan for priority, then deal with each email once only. Read and do, not read and do later, which requires reading again. Double handling is such a time waster.  This might be difficult at first but your scanning technique will become more discerning and time efficient.

If you don’t like routine (and I’m one of these people) try to prepare for needs of your next day before you leave the office at the end of each day. Scan the to do list at the end of the day and ensure that all documents you need to complete the project, the report or whatever else, literally placed on your desk or in desk top folder, for readiness to start the job next day. When you walk in each morning it’s there organised and ready for you to get started.

Use your diary (either electronic or paper) as your work planner. Follow-up tasks from meetings can be placed on the date to be done, and not the due date. Allow sufficient time to complete. This will prevent you finding on the day of the next meeting that there was a report to be done for it. Ooops!

Schedule a block of time for concentrated work. I think this approach tricks the mind to attend to task – well that’s my theory. I’m a great believer in the time available will be used to complete the task. If you allow a day then you’ll somehow manage to use the whole day.

Not all phone calls need answering – put your message bank on during focused time.

Similarly it’s ok to put up the ‘Do Not Disturb’ Sign. Or close the office door. It’s good to encourage mutually respected time for focused work among your colleagues.

It’s helpful to visualize what the best outcome will be before the meeting. Think through any possible ‘issues’ that may arise at the meeting. It is also helpful to work strategically before the meeting to pre-empt problems before they arise. Seek opinions from various people so that the ‘issues’ at the meeting are prepared for.

Deal with all administrative needs by email prior to the meeting, so that meeting time is not taken up by things that really don’t need discussing at all.

Lastly, I will state the obvious! Keep your Facebook and other Social Media for other times.  They are definitely not core business … unless they are your core business!






Career Coaching, Coaching Tips, Leadership