Consider How You Spend Your Time
Not many people have spare time at work. Shocking, I know. But I was recently asked by someone who wants to move into management how to best spend their working hours. I was lucky to have some great mentors in the past, and based on their feedback, I have found a few tricks for monitoring how I spend my time.
Key to measuring/monitoring anything is to have facts for tracking. If you are serious about this, you will have to log how you are spending your time. I use my Outlook calendar for everything – as do many people – so it’s fairly easy for me to reflect.
For a manager, I recommend that you consider People, Processes, and Projects when splitting your time. All three of these areas of focus are critical to your team’s overall success so I split my time with 33% in each area. This can vary week by week if something comes up, but overall, an even third to each area tends to keep things balanced.
People – 13+ hours per week
As a manager of people, your job to help them maximize their contributions to the company both in the short-term and long-term. If you are not having weekly 1:1s, reconsider. This is some of the most valuable time you will spend all week! By helping them work through options for how to tackle assignments, coaching them on overcoming a difficult situation, or talking about training that will help their long-term development goals, it is time well spent.
Under the area of people, I would also include relationships that you should be fostering with others such as internal clients, vendors, or peers. Spending time talking to your clients about their needs on a regular basis will pay off in fewer surprises and their support when issues arise. Vendors may not require weekly attention but I try to rotate the time I spend with each vendor based on the role they play in our organization. Peers are critical. There are not many things our teams deliver without the help of others. Scheduling time with your peer managers to discuss overlapping functions (Business Analysts & Project Managers, App Dev & DBAs, etc).
Processes – 13+ hours per week
In this area, I include both the processes that my team uses to perform their work as well as the tools. This is not work that you need to do alone. You can schedule time to consider the short-term effectiveness based on feedback, or you can use the time to elicit feedback from your team. Either way, evaluating how your team is working is critical to maximizing their productivity but also can help improve relationships with others or improve team morale if they are frustrated with an existing process.
Projects – 13+ hours per week
This area may not come as a big shock. You should spend time addressing projects that your team is supporting but also considering the long-term pipeline of work. Developing a forecast and schedule can help keep things running smoothly on your team. It is also a great tool to use when your boss swings by and drops a bomb on you about that new thing they need your team to undertake.
By looking at your calendar for the past weeks, you should be able to evaluate how you are spending your time amongst these 3 activities. You may not realize where an imbalance exists – or this may confirm a hunch that you already had. Consider how you can adjust your activities to help spread your time across all areas that are important to you so when you leave at 5pm on Friday, you know that you’ve given all that you can to help your team deliver their next win!