During conversations with senior managers, helping them reach their full potential, one of the recurrent topics that comes up is the issue of managing time. I have heard this from senior medical consultants to senior corporate heads.
|One of the recurrent topics that comes up is the issue of
I met a very senior finance professional who is being groomed to take over a senior position in the large conglomerate she is attached to. I asked her to describe a typical day for her.
In the morning she plays the role of the typical Sri Lankan mother; that includes waking up the daughter, helping her get dressed and making sure that she has taken everything she needed and dropping her at school. I asked her how old the daughter is. And to my surprise the answer came as 13 years. I was surprised, maybe because I come from a rural background. At 13 we handle part of the family responsibilities especially during the times of harvesting, etc.
Yet she hardly has spent quality time with the daughter.
We agreed on a strategy.
Once a month mother and daughter would meet for a cup of coffee at her favourite coffee shop. The daughter liked the idea. The first day the mother did not know how to navigate the discussion. It was a bit strange. Eventually the ice was broken and she brought the topic of how to be responsible and take charge of self as a growing teenager.
They agreed what additional roles the daughter could play in the home and the ritual of mother-daughter monthly coffee continued. Now they have more topics to discuss and the mother is learning more from these discussions. On the time management front the morning is less stressful for all. The daughter sets the alarm and prepares the clothes the previous evening and double checks what to take to college, etc. and helps more with the younger sister as well.
Our corporate lady found 15 minutes to do some simple stretching exercises in the morning before leaving home.
She had started to come early to office thinking that she would get to go home early at least to leave the office around 6 but that never happens; so she decided to come to office at 8 instead of very early and manage the morning better.
In the office she noticed how she gets her diary filled up by everyone. A simple change of keeping time buffers between meetings helped her to do what she has to do in between meetings.
Unless she could give 100% to the person who wanted to meet her, and unless it was absolutely urgent and important she started suggesting a time to meet, so the time was used focused and productively.
To make sure that others cannot just block her diary she started to block some time slots on her digital diary beforehand and used those times productively.
Email management was another challenge. She started learning all the productivity tools offered on Outlook, the email platform used in office and found that they really help manage time. Rather than starting to answer every mail in the order it has come first she scanned the emails, browsed them from the point of importance and urgency and noted down on a sheet of paper what to respond to in the morning, what to respond to before the day-end and later learnt to schedule them to the task list as well. This way she could be more focused and much more effective in managing time.
The real challenge was how to manage meetings. I will share that in the next article.
(Deepal Sooriyaarachchi is an Accredited Master Coach and a Mentor, with over many years of Senior Management and Board level experience. He can be contacted via: email@example.com.)