Leadership and effective time management

Leadership and effective time management

Emails come in buckets, messages in chat, alerts in text. Then comes team member needs, organizational needs vs organizational priorities vs organizational goals, other department needs, assignments from HR, assignments from education / compliance / regulatory, community commitments, ongoing education, meaningful meetings vs meetings that should have been emails. Then have a work and life balance, have a family, and if at all possible, have some form of furry creature that needs food and water (not a person).   

Add to all the above the recommendation that you find health and wellness, stay or get fit, cook most of your meals, and have a hobby so you don’t burn out (and don’t just talk about work and your family).

Simple enough.

I wonder why I’m going grey; it must be some weird cosmic thing called age...

I have a system I use to help, like a set of filters.  I go through them to determine what my priorities are, where they rank, and who is leading them. It is a combination of the Franklin Planner, Covey’s Four Quadrants, and EOS’ Delegate, and Elevate. 

I don’t claim to do anything unique; I take from the finest techniques from other highly effective people I know.

First, my version of the Franklin Planner method…

You start by taking all your projects and priorities you’re responsible for, and you write them out. This is also where the output of all of this will go in the end; it both starts and ends everything in a never-ending story (la la la).

Second, Covey’s four quadrants will classify everything you wrote down and determine what gets urgency:

Quad 1 (Important and Urgent):

  • Crisis
  • Pressing problems
  • Deadline-driven

Quad 2 (Important but not Urgent):

  • Prevention, process improvement
  • Relationship building
  • Planning, recognizing opportunity

Quad 3 (Not Important but Urgent):

  • Interruptions, short-term needs
  • Some emails and meetings
  • Usually crisis managers live here

Quad 4 (Not Important or Urgent):

  • Institutional requirements
  • Time wasters
  • Trivial, busywork

To make this work, take the list you created and put them into Covey’s Four Quadrants – use this process to classify everything into quadrants and then triage everything within those quadrants. Do not worry; you will not be doing everything.

Quadrant 1 is very important to manage out well and where you should always start.

When I began with my present employer, there were many items in the first quadrant (important and urgent). There were so many it was hard to see what was a priority, so I used this process to triage everything by business impact and risk. Once I had that done, I developed plans to either resolve things or work with a team to build processes with repeatable and manageable outcomes to control things. This eventually allows a person or team to own things (not me). 

In essence, this process freed up more and more time until I could live mostly in Q2 (which is the goal). I keep things in other quads based on whether they are value-added. Value-added means of critical importance to the company (risk or finance), for relationships, or for positive outcomes to those I lead.

Your list should become daily tasks for you, or for people you delegate to, to manage the list to good outcomes.

Third comes delegation: this is where you determine what you are doing vs. what you are ensuring gets done.

This will influence your daily tasks by giving them meaning and determining what you delegate to who. 

Here are the four basic classifications and what I do with them:

  • Love / Great: They are in Quadrant 2 or value-added items so they’ll be in my task lists as action items for me. If they are Q1 and we do not have a reliable process to manage them, then I’ll be involved until we do.
  • Like / Good: I will delegate to someone in a medium arch of growth that I can lead and guide.
  • Do Not Like / Good: I will delegate to someone an early arch of development with strong upside that I can trust but check on and validate.
  • Do Not Like / Not Good: I will delegate to someone fully developed who is both confident and competent. I will meet with them to remove barriers and provide support.

Once you have this broken out, you go back to the Franklin Planner method and create your personal daily task list that ensures what you do matches your priorities. That means actions you take or actions you are verifying as taken by others. 

I also recommend maintaining a discoveries list, this is a list of things you encounter throughout the workday which you’ll take back to the first step and give an eventual task to.

Good luck, and enjoy spending time where it’ll give you and your employer value!