Leadership

Creative time management can save your sanity

One of the tools that has helped me more than anything in my career as a busy IT pro are good time management skills.

One of the tools that has helped me more than anything in my career as a busy IT pro are good time management skills.

Toward this goal, I learned to identify 10-minute tasks. These are things that you can literally do from start to finish in ten minutes. A 10-minute task is a great fill-in when you arrive at the meeting on time but no one else does and you can tick one more task off the list in time that would otherwise have been lost.

And speaking of meetings, even the best time managers can get totally derailed by meetings gone amok. You may not have much control over meetings conducted by others, but you can do something about the ones you have to run. I learned to schedule half-hour meetings designed to accomplish the task at hand in 15 minutes and allow the remaining 15 minutes to manage the parking lot. I started sending out the 15-minute agenda with the meeting notice and asking attendees to print it off and bring it to the meeting. Then I took out all the chairs in the conference room.

Yes, I know that by now you think I'm crazy. Probably, but crazy like a fox? My meetings were tighter and more organized; I had follow up notes on the same sheet as the agenda. Endless debate came to a screeching halt. People were less inclined to argue inconsequential points if they had to stand through the argument. Communication became more effective.

One of the things that went alongside this approach was to state decisions that needed to come out of the meeting up front. I also made sure that there was enough time for people to tell me if they didn’t feel that we had reached a point where we could make a decision.

Finally, I started to control the access that my business client had to my technical people. I know that sounds odd, but I stopped getting calls from my architect and programmers that they were getting instructions from business asking for changes to the requirements. I gained back hours of time every week by taking the time to explain to business that once we were signed off on the requirements, anything else was Phase Two. And business understood and respected that.

I still have days that spin out of control. IT isn’t an exact science. But I have them less frequently, and when I do, I check to be certain that I am following my own rules.

What time management tips can you share?

12 comments
Joe_R
Joe_R

Thanks for posting those great ideas.

crimper
crimper

I can't tell you how many times a 5 minute meeting became 30 minutes because we were sitting in nice comfy conference room chairs. I'll be using these tips starting Monday!

seanferd
seanferd

Sorry, I don't have any tips, my time management skills belong to an entirely different world. However, I find that the several meeting management techniques you outlined here would have provided radical improvements to nearly every meeting I've ever attended. Unfortunately, every meeting leader (always a management superior) I've ever dealt with was about as useful as a bag of hammers. Of course this, my estimation of these managers, extends well beyond their ability to conduct meetings.

Tig2
Tig2

Have you ever wondered what happened to your day? Those are the days that you realize at lunch time that you haven't bothered to take your coat off. And when it is time to go home, you have to fight to resist the urge to do "just one more thing" before you leave. I used to have a day like that every day. But a little time-management has worked wonders. What do you do to keep your day from spiraling out of control?

Jaqui
Jaqui

after all, they make good throwing items when people irritate you. they can also be called Lateral Cranial Impact Enhancers, specially after you hit someone upside the head with one. and the rattle-clunk of the hammers in the bag often gets them running away BEFORE they irritate you. ]:) [ I like that, so I don't have to dispose of evidence, makes life easier ]

seanferd
seanferd

So I'm Dan now, am I? :^0

maecuff
maecuff

that my ex husband is as smart as a bag of hammers...

Jaqui
Jaqui

wingnut ]:) :D I'm getting way to much blood in my coffee system. either that or it's the two days with no sleep catching up to me.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

was from Foghorn Leghorn. "That boy's about as sharp as a sack of wet mice." Edit: yep, speling

maecuff
maecuff

He wasn't really useful, either.