Probably one of the greatest challenges leaders face today says is to manage their time. From the viewpoint of a department head, sometimes it feels like a hamster in the wheel. The very moment you think you’re through with critical tasks for the day you’re faced with a whole bunch of new e-mails, somebody’s standing in the door and have a question, telephone ringing and so forth. The key here first to not get distracted and focus your attention on what’s important. That all sounds fair enough, but in practice it is actually very difficult. There are many concepts, from the Eisenhower principle to differentiate between what is urgent and what’s important, to writing your tasks actually on a sheet of paper to avoiding to have too much stuff in your head so you can’t think clearly on how to deal with things.

These concepts by themselves may be helpful – however there’re often used in an isolated way, ignoring the interfacing challenges. Let’s say you were working on three different projects and some of these projects are actually part of your goals for this financial year. That’s rather presume that some of these projects have proven to be more difficult, so you had to add further tasks during the year. Now, at the same time you are getting more and more single tasks on your desk from your boss, some tasks regarding projects of colleagues, and so forth. So what happens now with the priorities that we’re set up in the first place for the original projects?

The truth is that priorities are changing, that things are dynamic and that many priorities did not stay important enough as opposed to new tasks. The key here is to never lose your goals out of sight, constantly to have to work on your strategy, meaning on some way to achieve your goal, two adapt routinely to evolving tasks and projects. Never forget what you’re being measured on. Never forget your key performance indicators, the measure points why you were hired in the first place. They will be used to judge at the end of the year how well you’ve done.

Let’s say you’re a leading business division manager and one of your key goals is to reduce churn. This is one of your key performance indicators and it turned red – measured not only in Euros, but also in numbers of customers lost. Now you need to rely on strategies on how to avoid losing these clients. A couple of milestones of your strategy may be to get feedback from your managers on the status of customer relationships. Another one may be two to build a plan with the Marketing Department on how to keep current customers posted regarding the company’s work for other customers- including the other customers’ opinions of the work. The third milestone may be to set up a series of meetings during this financial year with key decision makers of your customers to get the feedback correctly and make suggestions on how to improve the collaboration.

All these projects need to be prioritised and broken down into much smaller steps, and manyof these need to be delegated properly to the right people in order to move the whole thing forward swiftly.

Now the key thing is to integrate the tasks that your project consists of with the many line management tasks and routine things into an ongoing plan. That plan must be managed properly at least once a week and priorities need to be reviewed. If, for example one of your clients has indicated that they want to switch suppliers, you may need to increase the priority of that particular project at the same time as opposed to other tasks and dynamically according to the current situation.

Jens Moeller Consulting Ltd.
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