How Managers Can Get More Done By Doing Less

By trying to do too much, managers get too little done
By trying to do too much, managers get too little done
Image Credit: Brian Brewer

How’s that manager job going for you? Are you finding that you can use your manager skills to have enough time to get all of the things that you need to get done, done? If you are like most of us, the answer is no. You go into the office each day with a well made “to-do” list and then you come home at night with most of that to-do list still undone. What’s going on here? What’s going on is that life is knocking you for a loop. It’s all of the little things that need to be done every day that are preventing you from doing the bigger things that need to be accomplished. How can a manager get more done?

The Problem With Time

So what is holding you back in your job? Is it all the competition that your company is facing? Good guess, but no, that’s not it. Instead, what is keeping you from getting your work done are all of the daily work tasks that you are required to get done each day. These things can include all of the emails that you have received but not yet answered, any administrative tasks that you need to accomplish, requests from customers, and so on. All of this so-called “busy work” is going to prevent you from getting the things that your manager training tells you that you really need to be doing done.

On top of blocking you from accomplishing the manager tasks that you need to get done, the daily busy work that you are facing is going to end up wearing you out. You are not going to have the energy that will be required to do great things once you’ve gotten the mundane tasks accomplished. What happens all too often is that we arrive at work with the best of intentions regarding what we’re going to accomplish today. However, things start to pop up right off the bat and before we know it, half of the day is gone and we’ve not yet started what we had intended to spend our time working on.

So why are we having such a problem getting what really needs to be done accomplished at work? The thinking goes that we are attempting to do too much. There are a number of different reasons why we try to do too much. The most obvious is that there are not enough people in the office to do all of the work that is required. We then take on more and more in a desperate attempt to stay on top of things. All too often, something that we are trying to accomplish required the help or knowledge that only one person can provide us with. When they are not available, we stall and can’t move forward with our task. There is also the problem that we are concerned about how others view us. If we don’t seem to be taking on everything that comes our way, others may view us as not pulling our own weight. We take on more work because we are concerned about our career.

How To Get More Done With The Time That You Have

Guess what? Taking on too much work is going to have an impact on your career – it’s going to limit it. In order to get the work that really matters accomplished, you are going to have to start out each day with a portion of your time reserved for doing the work that is really important. Once you have done this, you are going to have to take steps to make sure that nobody and nothing is permitted to intrude on it. Yes, you’ll have to step away from the daily tasks that you are working on, but by doing this you’ll ensure that you get the most important things done on time.

In order to find the time to work on the things that we need to do, we need to take the time to do a better job of delegating everything else. What often happens is that we take a look at the work that is before us and we decide that it’s too much for any of the people who work for us to take on. It turns out that there is a simple solution to this problem, break the work up in to more manageable pieces. Don’t think of work assignments like this as being you adding an extra burden to members of your team. Instead, view it as being something that is going to provide them with a way to grow their skill set. This is yet another way that you can help people on your team move down their development path.

Celebrate what you have been able to accomplish. One thing that none of us do a good job at is taking a moment and stepping aside to celebrate the wins that we’ve had. What we need to do is to pause, and take a moment to learn from what we’ve been able to accomplish. What we want to do is to find ways to make our work environment less frantic. Taking the time to celebrate the strategic things that we’ve been able to accomplish will let the members of our team know that it’s ok to also celebrate their smaller accomplishments. Next time you are able to get something done, take a moment to celebrate your accomplishment before you push on to the next thing that you have to do.

What All Of This Means For You

As a manager, it can seem as though time is your enemy. We arrive at the office each day with a handful of things that we want to get accomplished and somehow when we are leaving at the end of the day, we’ve not been able to get to them or any team building. It turns out that in addition to what we want to get done, there are a number of other tasks that we have to get done every day at the office. These tasks seem to grow in number and end up blocking us from what we really want to do.

Our time can get taken up answering emails or doing administrative tasks. Not only does this use up our time, but it can also wear us out and leave us too tired to do the work that we should be doing. The reason that we find ourselves in this position is because we’ve been taking on too much work for a variety of reasons. The secret to solving this problem starts with having you block time out of each day where you will only work on the important things that you have to do. Next you need to delegate those tasks that don’t require you to perform them. Finally, you need to take time to celebrate the things that you have accomplished.

The good news about time is that we are in charge. If we understand that we have a problem managing our time, then we can take steps to get our time under control. If we take the steps that we’ve discussed here, then we will have found a way to make sure that we’ll have the time that we need to work on the things that are important to us. In the end, by doing this we can once again get control over our time.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: How much time do you think that a manager should reserve each day for the really important stuff?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So let’s face it. Talking about someone ending their own life is never a pleasant discussion. However, as a manager you need to be prepared to deal with this kind of event if someone on your team decides to take their own life. If we can step away from the hard and cold fact that you will now have to replace someone on your team, you need to understand that when somebody commits suicide, it’s going to have a ripple effect on your organization. Just about the only thing that could make this even worse would be if they decided to end their life while at work.