Kantor column: Unmanaged times just slips away

Columnist Jan Kantor

Photo by LEXEY SWALL

Columnist Jan Kantor

Managing time is not the obvious skill it seems. Whether it is managing your own time or the company managing its time, it can be more difficult than it appears.

The first step to managing time is to find a way to record actual use of time. One manager prided himself on being absolutely certain of where his time was spent. He knew he gave a third of it to employees, a third to important customers and the other third to community activities. His assistant convinced him to let her keep a log for him.

He did not believe the first log the assistant showed him. It showed he spent most of his time keeping track of orders from customers, by calling the company to check on them. It took three logs before he realized he was spending most of his time as a dispatcher.

Accordingly, it is very important that log entries be made at the time events occur. This will limit ones' tendency to fool oneself.

Many unproductive activities, disguised as "manager's tasks," really aren't necessary. You need to ask yourself: Are there things I do which don't need to be done at all? What time do I myself waste? The simplest and perhaps most honest way to find an answer to these questions is to ask other people.

Personal time wasting is less of a problem for managers than the time wasted by the company itself.

The first clue that company mismanagement is killing time is the continued reappearance of the same crisis. Is there an uproar and panic over the annual inventory every year? Something that occurs once is a crisis. If it occurs again it must be set up in a step-by-step form so time is not wasted by panic and confusion.

Lack of organization is another major time-waster in a company. The symptom here is an excess of meetings. Meetings can be a concession to poor organization. If a manager spends more than a quarter of their time in them, then perhaps work or responsibilities is not getting to the people who need it. Even with rigorous control of time wasting, the amount of time a manager will have for important tasks can still be small.

Spending it wisely can often be tricky. One technique of an accomplished "time manager" was to consolidate her time into ninety minute blocks. She would end the work sessions or conferences promptly. She then spent 30 minutes taking messages and returning calls.

But during those precious ninety minute blocks no one would interrupt. Concentration takes time and fifteen minute driblets wastes time. Chunks of time are especially important when working with people.

But the most important technique is the basic mental habit of maintaining a constant alertness. When good managers feel their time is being consumed by other matters, they scrutinize their time once again, and prune again. They constantly manage their time.

Time-wasting whether personal or company can sometimes be remedied fast. Other times it takes long patient work to correct the problems. The results are worth the effort.

Jan Kantor is a Southwest Florida business consultant and executive coach. For more information, or to contact him regarding workplace solutions, his website is www.jankantor.com.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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