Making Time Management One of your Top Priorities -- Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009
Know Your Business Priorities
Executives are extremely focused on their priorities. Brian Fetherstonhaugh, Global CEO of OgilvyOne, has a flip chart in his office with his top priorities marked down, to remind him. Michael Cloutier, former CEO of AstraZeneca Canada, uses a technique he calls "Three Balls" to classify and handle his priorities. Glass balls must be handled in 24 hours as they are urgent - and if you drop them they break, with the direct consequence a missed opportunity. Rubber balls are the second priority level - drop them and they bounce back once, giving you a second shot. But that's all you will get: Just one more chance. The third level are lead balls, which fall to the ground and lay there if dropped; although you would like to deal with them, the reality is that their impact is usually small and often they will remain there, as you juggle the more vital glass and rubber balls of your life.
FOCUS ON ONE THING AT A TIME
Research shows that focusing on one thing at a time improves personal productivity. Mr. Fetherstonhaugh considers focus to be like a muscle, that you must keep strong. At the same time, he is alert to when he is losing focus, and switches tracks if he needs a refresher, focusing on something else. Tim Penner, president of Procter & Gamble Canada, says if he's in a meeting he maintains his focus on the discussion, not answering his BlackBerry.
MANAGE YOUR INTERRUPTIONS
CEOs, of course, have assistants to help block unwanted interruptions. Mr. Cloutier ignores all interruptions except calls from his family until he has a break in his planned schedule to address them. Mr. Fetherstonhaugh finds that when people enter his office they assume their issue is top-of-his-mind. So he coaches them to spend two minutes giving him the context and background before presenting their question, allowing him to switch gears and focus on their matter.
BE STRATEGIC ABOUT YOUR E-MAIL
Among the suggested techniques are to set aside specific times for e-mail, and to only touch an e-mail once, deleting, replying or forwarding.
RUN EFFICIENT MEETINGS
The top executives start meetings on time - in the case of Procter & Gamble's Mr. Penner by shutting the door behind him when he walks in. Jordan Banks, former managing director of eBay Canada, scheduled most meetings to start at exactly five minutes after the hour, allowing a transition time from previous sessions people might be attending. Bruce Bowser, CEO of AMJ Campbell, stresses that if a meeting is scheduled for one hour but can be wrapped up in 35 minutes, do so.
The leaders stress the importance of making a decision with dispatch - you'll never have all the information you need - and moving on since action is better than not making a decision. Mr. Bowser makes a decision with the understanding that there is a test period and then he pulls the plug if it doesn't work.
Get a strong team, and be disciplined about delegating to them, staying out of the details and letting them know they won't be second-guessed. At the same time, ensure when they deliver that you provide feedback that helps them grow.
TAKE A BREAK
All of the executives placed great importance on their lives outside work and maintaining energy levels by exercising and taking breaks during the day.
By: Harvery Schachter
So there you have it. No matter what, our lives are going to be crazy. That's just part of the game.
Live it. Love it. Embrace it...but manage it.
Hope this helped!