Time Management: Where Does the Time Go?

Where, oh where, does the time go? Where, oh where, could it be?

So many teams struggle with time management. They don’t know where their time goes or how to use it best. One organization we work with calls it the “X Factor”. It’s almost as if time is this mysterious factor that can never be solved. Here are some things you can do to better manage your team’s time.

They suck most of the time away from teams. They are necessary, but often we become too lax in our use of them. Ask your team what they want to get out of routine meetings and what would make them more efficient. Often, setting time limits per person during check-ins, having an agenda (even if you create it together at the beginning of the meeting), or asking everyone to only use technology to take notes instead of trying to multi task during the meeting, helps reduce wasted time.

Ask do we really need this meeting? Does it need to be an hour? Are people being honest about what is going on or are they going to people after the meeting and altering decisions that have already been made. One manager felt like his morning check-in meetings were turning into complaining sessions. He switched up the location, the amount of time and checked in with the team on what they really needed from the meeting. After the readjustments, he found everyone got more out of the time together and it took less time each day, saving many hours for the department.

Teams that set blocks of time to conduct meetings can contain the unruly scattered meetings that end up all over everyone’s calendar. When we have scattered meetings it does not allow us to focus on any one project because the time is usually not enough to really dive into the work. One group said they would have meetings Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday between 8:30-12. That allowed their sales people to be out of the office selling, their marketing team with concentrated time for writing and gave their managers space and time to work on the big picture. If you are working with clients as we do, it does help to block off days and times when you can schedule meetings thus helping with burnout.  (Having one meeting at 7am and then another at 7pm is incredibly difficult, especially when you have other meetings spread throughout the day as well.)

Another tip for scheduling is to clarify which times need to be kept sacred. This might be one to ones with direct reports, strategy time or even work out time. If you let others walk all over these times, you will decrease your efficiency. Sometimes even just telling people that you have something in your schedule for that part of the day and explaining why it is so important that you keep it, will help. You own your time and making sure that you have what you need within your schedule is imperative.

What have you tried that helps you manage your team’s time better? What worked best? What didn’t work for you or the team? I would be curious to hear both!

In my next blog, we will talk about emails and putting structures in place to decrease distractions.

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