For HR professionals, time management is a key expectation and a critical aspect of career success and work/life balance. Often, time management equates with crisis management. Even on a “normal” day, there are numerous balls to keep in the air: recruitment, employee relations, talent management, career development, health and safety, benchmarking … and the list goes on.
How do you do it all?
Begin by reflecting on the benefits of having more control over your time. Just thinking about it lowers your stress level and can bring a smile to your face. Then, set aside an hour a week or 10 minutes a day to focus solely on improving your time management skills – because they’re just as important, if not more so, than your other strengths.
- Create a time log. Write down what you do all day, in 15-minute increments, for a week or two. Look for patterns of wasted time, needless interruptions and tasks that could be delegated. If informal conversations take five hours out of your week, this adds up to more than 12 percent of your time. Ask yourself which items on your log are necessary and whether they could be eliminated or completed in a more efficient manner.
- Prioritize. Try the ABC Method. “A” items are those that must be done. This is where most of your time should be spent and these are the tasks you should tackle first. “B” items are those that should be done. They’re important, but not essential. In other words, they can be done tomorrow instead of today. “C” items are nice to do. They can be scheduled during down times – which you will have, once you master this time management thing!
Step out of Crisis Mode
You’ll never be able to fully retire your firefighter hat, but see if you can at least hang it up for a while, instead of making it part of your daily attire.
- Set realistic deadlines. Include a cushion to allow for unplanned crises.
- Prevent recurring emergencies. Find ways to fix recurring problems for good. For instance, if an employee continues to make the same mistake, hold them accountable via a progressive discipline deadline.
- Stop micromanaging. Let employees solve their own problems. Guide them towards solutions, versus diving in and doing it yourself.
- Review your standards. Perfectionism is a two-edged sword and a breeding ground for stress. Be willing to sacrifice some of it in order to get things done.
- Learn to say “no” when expectations exceed time limits. Try this response: “I’ll be glad to handle that; however, I can’t get to it until I finish my current project. How’s Tuesday?”
- Procrastination is forbidden. It may be human nature, but it’s a surefire path to disaster. Set a start date as well as a completion date for items that are difficult, boring or unpleasant.
Continually ask yourself, “What’s the best use of my time right now?” Time management does not mean doing more. It means doing what’s most important.
As an HR leader, you’re a standard bearer for your company when it comes to time (and related stress) management. So start setting the pace today! To learn more about this and other workforce management strategies, contact the team at Employment Professionals Canada today.