Lean Island 2014I have been recently been speaking at the “Lean Island” conference in Reykjavik, Iceland, where I was given the opportunity to share both my experiences and our management productivity models to the Icelandic audience.

What is it that prevents managers and leaders from becoming more productive in their roles and through their activities?

This subject could be debated for many hours, but in my experience and through the many projects and clients we have worked with over the last 17 years, there are a few factors that most “Time Management” courses or trainings overlook. In truth “Time Management” is a misnomer, we can’t manage time, we can only manage our activities, our priorities and ourselves. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the amount you have to do, its not surprising. We have moved in recent years, due somewhat to the rise in internet and email usage, plus higher performance expectations to a non-productive environment. Don’t you think that is strange? We are striving to be more productive in all areas and have more time efficient systems than ever, but the environment is driving us away from being productive.

We now exist in a culture of multitasking, internet snacking, sending emails and texts as our primary communications channel, instant entertainment and distractions, plus we are overwhelmed by choice. It is becoming harder and harder to avoid both distractions and interruptions, one where most people are searching for instant, but also external quick fix solutions, which in most cases do not involve “changing myself” too much. Managers like everyone else do not really like to have to change their style, behaviour or their habits too much, so they are looking for instant fixes.

In our studies and research, we have identified the five key areas that managers say, are consuming their time to most.

These are:

  1. Inefficient and Ineffective Meetings
  2. Overwhelmed by E-Mail
  3. Being Interrupted or Distracted
  4. Disorganization and Getting Organized
  5. The Amount of Information and Documentation that has to be Processed

We developed over 8 years ago “The 11 Wastes of Managers” a model for helping managers in seeing the kinds of systemic wastes that most managers have adopted into their routines, unconsciously of course, no manger consciously creates nor purposely does wasteful activities do they? We use this model as a coaching and productivity mentoring framework for helping managers and leaders to restructure how they think about their activities and building a whole new relationship with time. 

11 Wastes of ManagementTaking into account these consumers or time stealers of a managers time, we need systems and a progressive framework for both addressing and improving where managers focus their attention and systematize how they work. We all know that good systems produce good outputs and by definition poor systems, generate waste and consume resources, and that both business systems and personal systems are interrelated for good or for worse. It stands to reason that managers who are systematic in how they work are likely to be more productive and effective.

The model we use and developed is a five step iterative model for managers to become more systematized in their routines. 

Mastering Time for Managers Framework

We call it the Managers Time Mastery System, and it was born from one of our programs called Releasing Time to Lead, an up-front module from the Lean Leadership courses we run with many organizations.

A quick breakdown of the Managers Time Mastery System and its five step formula are as follows:

  1. The Inner Game – A manager has to expand their awareness of The Inner Game of Time Mastery, and personal performance, looking at thinking and emotional patterns, physical and spiritual factors. How a manager thinks about time, their beliefs, what they value and what is most important to them will drive their time related habits. How a manager organizes and plans their time to fit their optimal working patterns affects how managers perform.
  2. Grasping Reality – A manager should be continually evaluating how they are performing and how to improve that performance. This takes a self-analytical approach of understanding where their time is being consumed and on what, the impact of this and through simple diagnostics, planning how to systematically improve their focus on their Most Valuable Activities (MVAs), where they can have the greatest impact.
  3. Planning and Organizing – A manager must build planning and organizing routines that keep them focused and productive, organizing around priorities and high value activities. How a manager plans and organizes will make the biggest difference in how they best invest their time. There are a number of very effective planning and organizing systems that will help the manager build powerful, proactive planning habits that will help to increase their personal productivity, but also the impact they will have on the business.
  4. Your Communications Plan – A manager must have a defined communications plan, that takes into account their whole communications requirements, which communications, when, to whom, how, why and what format. This includes how e-mail is managed, educated and measured, how meetings are executed, evaluated and educated into the organization. A communications plan will eliminate more than 75% of interruptions most managers get on a daily basis. An effective communications plan helps both the manager, their peers and their direct reports establish clear communications expectations and frameworks for the effectiveness of all routine communications.
  5. The P.D.C.A. Mindset – A manager, in order to be most effective has to establish their own P.D.C.A. (Plan, Do, Check, Act) structures and routines, that includes self-evaluation and reflection and continuous improvement in how they optimize the investment of their time and the value of those activities that improve the business and make a difference.

Mastering Time for Managers StructureIf you want to get really effective and productive as a manager, you need to focus on value, systematize your routines and activities and create flow in your work.

Should you have found this article useful and of interest, you can contact, Mike Denison to discuss further how to become more productive as a manager, or ask about getting access to our Managers Time Mastery System worksheets and proformas to help you increase your personal productivity as a manager.

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