From Busy to Productive: Time Management Tactics for Leaders
Image courtesy of Pete Linforth from Pixabay

From Busy to Productive: Time Management Tactics for Leaders

Being busy is natural when you’re a leader. The question is, are you busy doing the right things? Sure, you’re hustling to serve your customers and grow your company, but a lot of other stuff competes for your time. Maybe even stuff that seems earth-shaking that only you can fix. But the truth is, when everything is deemed urgent and important, nothing truly holds priority. In this whirlwind, crucial aspects of your goals and desires are sidelined, paving the way for burnout. But that doesn’t have to be your story. 

It’s not an option to add more hours to your day—but you can shift your mindset and priorities so you’re working way smarter, not just harder. That frees you to work on your organization, not just in it, and leaves time and energy to have that important conversation, prioritize your kid’s soccer game, or finally go on that date you keep rescheduling. 

Don’t worry—we’re not suggesting you enroll in a fancy course on time management for leaders. We have some leader-tested hacks that could help you master your days, so you ultimately get more out of life and leadership. These five steps will help you take back control of your schedule. 

1. Imagine What You Would Do with More Time: Before jumping into time management strategies, we would suggest taking 10 minutes just to imagine a workweek that’s under control—a week of strategy, margin, and sanity. To really get a picture of what that would look like, write down your answers to these three questions:    • What would I do if you had more time? 

    • What would having more time mean to me? 

    • What’s holding me back from having time to do those things? 

2. Complete a Time Audit: In our time working with leaders and teams, we’ve learned that there are a lot of time-sucking activities that fly under the radar for people. To start taking control of how you spend your time, the second step we suggest is for leaders to conduct a time audit of their daily activities to identify where their time is going. You can track your weekly activities using a good old-fashioned notebook. Don’t overlook those hallway conversations, side projects you’re doing for someone else, or the 20 minutes it takes to perfect an email response. Once you see what’s happening in your day, only then can you fix it. 

3. Discover Your Most Productive Time of Day: Maybe you’ve heard of the Pareto Principle? It’s the idea that 20% of your work generates 80% of your results. So, what if we started down the path of allocating more of our time and energy to the work that brings about the most significant results? Review your time audit to identify periods of peak productivity and assess energy levels throughout the day. Understanding your optimal working hours allows for better task allocation. 

4. Prioritize Tasks: Ever get to the end of an exhausting day and wonder what you even got done? Plenty of activities can keep you up to your eyeballs in “busy” and still not move you toward professional success and personal growth. In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey showed us how to plot our tasks in a time management quadrant (also called an Eisenhower Matrix). Here’s how it works: Everything you do, every task you complete, falls into one of these categories and has a suggested action step:

    • Important and urgent = Prioritize it

    • Important, not urgent = Schedule a time to do it 

    • Not important (i.e., does not require you) but urgent = Delegate it 

    • Not important and not urgent = Eliminate it Just taking a minute to do this exercise can create more clarity and guide action. 

5. Create a Weekly Schedule: Now that you’re clear on the types of tasks filling your schedule, you’re ready to tell them where they really belong! In other words, it’s time to create a weekly schedule and plan your calendar strategically. Block time for critical meetings and projects while including activities contributing to long-term growth and well-being. Maintain flexibility to adapt to unexpected changes while staying focused on priorities.

Final Thought: Still feeling overwhelmed? We would love to try and help. Reach out to us via email at [email protected], and we’ll schedule a time to help you navigate your time crunch challenge.

  

  

Ethos Leadership Group, LLC

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Carol joined Ethos in 2020 after working in revenue cycle management and operations for non-profit and for-profit organizations. A natural helper, Carol takes pride in completing operational tasks that allow her teammates to focus on client-facing work. Carol particularly enjoys preparing Ethos’ daily tweets and bi-weekly leadership content for publication.

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  1. Lived in 10 states before settling in West Virginia in 2012
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David Ray - Ethos Leadership Group

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David Ray

Owner

In 2017, David joined Ethos after leading and advising in the non-profit sector. An organizational troubleshooter and natural synergist, David leverages his analytical and relational skills to help clients take their business and team to their desired next level. With a passion to see others live and lead well, David enjoys connecting leaders to evidence-based practices to boost leadership capacity, build human capital, and improve organizational performance. David particularly enjoys working with clients through strategic planning, executive coaching, and team development.

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Becky joined Ethos in 2009 after leading the daily operations of five distinct work teams over a ten-year period. An analyst and solution-generator by nature, she works with clients to identify their needs and develops a plan of action to reach their desired results. Having worked in numerous disciplines in her career, Becky brings a broad range of knowledge and experience to our clients. Becky particularly enjoys working with clients on organizational audits, strategic planning, employee training and coaching, and governance.

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