How To Prevent a Tsunami of Panic!
I’ve met many managers who are struggling to manage their time and end up with critical activities planned at very short notice and then that creates a domino effect for the rest of their time.
Typical examples of this are preparing for presentations, budgets, training events and key meetings.
Managers should know in advance the dates of these big events but unfortunately because of the culture of being very busy and very task orientated, many managers start to prepare for these events too close to the event itself, hence the term ‘tsunami of panic.’
Everything gets dropped and people just focus on that task for the day or two before the event. These managers often talk to us about “the culture” and how difficult it is to work in any other way, but ultimately it’s down to their discipline and the way they plan and conduct their time. The diagram below shows the key components of the model we use to coach people to manage their time more effectively.
At the core of the model is the traditional plan, do, review, improve mentality.
Our time, like every activity needs to be planned and we should then do things according to that plan. Like everything however time management needs us to stand back and review how well we have performed against our plan to then make ongoing improvements.
This can only work effectively when we develop a plan that is monthly, weekly, and daily.
If those plans are filled with just urgent and important activities we aren’t going to prevent that tsunami of panic. We’re always going to be chasing our tail until the next big event.
Prior to having any plan and defining what is actually important, “important” needs to be clarified by understanding clearly what your role is, and that comes from discussions with your boss integrating the general business direction. Once we know what is important we can plan whether it’s urgent and important, not urgent but important, urgent but not important or not urgent and not important.
If we can make that distinction we can start to manage our time a lot better and either delegate or stop doing things that don’t appear to be important. If we don’t get that clarity everything then becomes important, and we never find time for reviewing or improving anything let alone our time management.
The model also illustrates some basic tools. So, with planning there needs to be a diary system, right down to a ‘to do’ list that day. So when you have a big event and you know its three weeks away, planning for that event should be broken down into little bits almost every day if not weekly and that is the core of preventing a tsunami of panic.
Also, when we do tasks, we can get into too much detail and create a lot of complexity, but going back to basics, we find we can get most things done in the minimum of time.
The 20:80 rule!
Also, when we do know what is important we can make better decisions on whether we do it now or later, or we delegate to others who would enjoy doing it.
So, we need a clear plan, and we need to execute the plan. In reality we will never execute that plan 100% as we hoped, that’s why we need to review.
The only way to review effectively is to have the diary system, look back at what time things took to do, and question…
· Why did I do that thing that way?
· Can I revise my thinking about it?
· Are there things I shouldn’t have done?
By way of review, ask yourself:
· Did I get the timings right?
· Did I communicate effectively?
· Did it create more work for me?
· Was I a little tardy or lazy?
· Can’t I say no to anything?
· Am I everybody’s best friend?
Once we are honest with ourselves and we have the discipline to ask those questions we will then improve. The core activities of improving in the early stages are to delegate, to say no, let go of the little things we really shouldn’t be doing and stop taking about it and do it. And do it in less time.
I hope you see the value in the model, please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss more opportunities on managing your time, your teams time, and in fact creating a culture in your organisation to be more time efficient.
Martin Gummery, Managing Director, NewLeaf International