Time Management for the Manager

These tips will help you prevent others from squandering your time and increasing your stress.

  • Control your time. Don't let subordinates gobble up your time by delegating up, or leaning on you to solve their problems. Show them that you're sympathetic, then make your best suggestion or delegate elsewhere so you can get busy on your own work.
  • Don't oversupervise. Be sure your staff understands what needs to be done, then turn to other matters. Avoid micro-managing or hovering.
  • Minimize interruptions. It can take you five minutes or more to resume productive work after an interruption. Set a schedule and let others know when you are available for visitors and phone calls.
  • Schedule smart. Group appointments outside of the office so you only have to leave the office once or twice a day.
  • Minimize interruptions. Ask workers to send you routine questions via e-mail or voice mail. This allows you to choose when you’ll take time to respond.
  • Set limits on appointments and meetings. Tell your visitor you can only give them five minutes. This forces them to focus on the important issues and avoid socializing.
  • Assert your needs. Tell visitors or workers when you're working on an important project that must be completed by the end of the day. Offer to make an appointment to talk later.
  • Keep discussions focused. If it begins to drift into social chitchat, ask the person what they need or how you can help them to redirect the interruption to business issues.
  • Send nonverbal cues. Stand when someone enters your office to signal that the conversation should be short. Other signals to keep the interruption brief or to cut short a discussion that has wandered into social chitchat include moving papers on your desk or glancing at your watch.

Portions adapted from “How to handle interruptions that steal your time,” Steve Kaye, The Canadian Manager, Summer 1999, and “15 time wasters for supervisors," Robert D. Ramsey, Supervision, June 2000.

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