Managers always struggle for time, and it’s particularly true for new managers because you’re in a new role and you’ve got all these people suddenly coming to you and asking for your opinion on things, seeking clarification. You’ve got a lot more meetings. You’ve got a lot more phone calls. You’ve got a lot more emails. All of these things can make it difficult to find. because it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed. The first thing to do is convince yourself that time in order to think is really important. You need to be clear about your work, your team’s work.
You need to be clear about the priorities that you have in order to be able to respond effectively to your team. So what can we do to try and get on top of this? The first thing you can do is start with five minutes for five days. And what you want to do is find a quiet time of the day. So for me, I would come in early before everyone else got there. But for you, there might be a different time of the day that suits better. You want to make sure that you’ve got a quiet space, making sure your phone is off. There are no emails. There are no phone calls. Turn your phone on airplane mode, whatever you need to do to ensure that you are not being disturbed for that five minutes of thinking time.
So what do you actually consider?
Day 1: While you’re sitting there for your five minutes on the first day, you want to think about what is my number one priority? It could be the most important thing. It could be the most urgent thing. It could be the most important and urgent thing. And then consider what you could actually do to start on that today?Because making a little bit of progress will really help you to feel like you’re not under pressure quite as much.
Day 2: On the second day, have a look at what are all the other things. So when you were looking at the list and deciding what was the most important and what was the most urgent, you also thought about all the other things on the list. So when do those things have to be done by? That’s the job for the second day.
Day 3: On the third day, return to the number one priority. Can this job that you need to do be broken down into tasks? Can you break it up somehow, into simpler chunks so that it’s more achievable.
Day 4: And then on the fourth day, think about those tasks from Day 3, and I think about who in your team could contribute to those tasks? That might be because they have an expertise in that area. It could be, because they’re really interested in that area. It could be because it’ sits nicely with the other things they’re doing in their role. There could be lots of reasons why a particular task would be really useful for one particular team member to do. It could even be something to give them a bit of development.
Day 5: On the last day of your working week, in your last five minute session, make sure you put in the following week, a one hour planning session. This is not a doing session,this is an hour to plan. That hour is to plan how you are going to communicate to your team. At the moment you know what the top priority is, but not everyone else is aware of that. As part of your planning, you also want to think to yourself, perhaps I could also see, “who would be interested in doing what tasks”. You have already thought about how people might be able to contribute, but you can get some other ideas from your team in the meeting. Similarly, you might find out that one person would rather do one element rather than another. Finally there might also be some other points that need to be considered in that meeting.
If you’d like some more tips on how to be a better manager, starting with just five minutes a day, then check out the free course here: