While managers need to have an internal focus that advances them toward the overall accomplishment of their goals and objectives, many continually get bogged down with a myriad of meetings, phone calls and peripheral activities. Rather than actively advance toward particular goals, their daily activities tend to be concentrated on dealing with daily crises and unexpected events. This results in a complete loss of focus and direction.

Time is one element that can actively control managers’ daily lives, when, in essence, they should be controlling and regulating it. Time management is something that can easily spin out of control as the complexities of the job overtake fulfilling daily schedules, accomplishing tasks and completing necessary assignments on their active “to-do” lists. Because it happens incrementally, managers unwittingly become controlled by commitments and events, rather than effectively managing their time, as the one resource indispensable to their success.

Over time, managers tend to commit or get obligated to a number of tasks and activities that incrementally sap their valuable time. This diminishes their personal effectiveness, which results in an overall loss of productivity. Most managers are not even aware that their effectiveness is steadily deteriorating.

All managers should have a system or method to effectively manage their time and activities. Whether on the back of an envelope or with an app on their iPad, they need to have a system that organizes, schedules and plans their various daily activities. As everyone tends to have individual styles as to how they choose to stay organized, perform their work and complete their activities, the system selected should be one that is best suited to their work style. If managers are not comfortable with a specific planning system, they will not use it effectively—if at all. The reality is, no matter the individual preference or what was spent on a particular planning and management system, it ultimately still remains a big to-do list requiring proper management.

Most managers use various types of planning systems because they are keyed toward specific time and activity control and management. However, one thing these systems cannot do is to prioritize daily activities. Few managers actually take the time to weigh or categorize the activities on their calendars.

Without the essential step of priority setting, any planning system is useless. Many managers appear busy and no doubt are, but waste much of their time on tasks and projects that do not advance them toward the successful attainment of their primary goals. Consequently, many tend to accomplish things that have no real value or impact on their professional lives and careers.

One technique that is effective in maximizing time and effectiveness includes a simple activity: every night or week, whenever managers plan their activities, they should ask this simple question regarding every item on their calendar or agenda: “Does this activity move me forward to the successful accomplishment of my major goals?”

As they apply this question in regard to every item on their calendars, each item should be scored with a “yes” or “no.” If the answer is negative, managers should immediately remove, delegate or cancel those particular activities. This simple technique identifies the specific pursuits that are wasting their time and effort.

It should be noted that many activities are “addictive” and difficult to break away from. However, being busy does not always equate to effectiveness. Managers must transform their daily activities into ones that have a direct impact on the accomplishment of particular goals that are able to produce positive professional end results.

Excerpt: Overcoming Management Challenges: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series by Timothy Bednarz (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011)

Author's Bio: 

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. is the author of the 125 books included in Pinpoint Skill Development Training Series. He has also authored “Great! What Makes Leaders Great,” which was selected by “Foreword Review Magazine” as one of the top ten career books published in 2011, as well as a finalist in the “2011 Foreword Review Book of the Year Awards.” He is also a contributing author of “Practical Ethics for the Food Professional” (Wiley and Sons, New York, NY), which will be published in 2013.