Do you find yourself saying you have no time? Sometimes, saying you have no time makes it so. It can be a way of throwing up your hands, in lieu of sorting through the demands on your time, deciding on priorities and getting out of overwhelm. What’s the reality for you? Is saying you have no time a way for you to stay in overwhelm or to avoid certain things? Or, are you willing to create a positive relationship with time and get things done?
photo: Photodynamix, Dreamstime.com
There’s a difference between movement and activity. You can keep your day active, but how do you make sure you are moving forward? One way is to identify your goals for the week, with a deadline for each one. This is a simple and well-known approach, but goals are not always front and center during a busy day. Use your deadlines as markers of your progress during the week. Another way is to set daily priorities and order them according to their importance. At the end of each day, review how you did and set your priorities accordingly for the next day.
A day’s distractions and interruptions, as well as frustrations and energy drains, take your focus away from your goals and priorities. Identify “911” signs that you are losing focus, so that you don’t stray too far. If your day becomes unfocused, develop a ritual to refuel and regain your focus.
Keeping things going requires that you maintain your focus and attention on your priorities. Not always an easy thing to do, but a sure-fire way to keep things moving.
photo: Tom Curtis, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
1. Start with a list covering a week’s time.
2. Check your calendar to see what time is already scheduled for that week.
3. Include only your priorities for the week. (You can keep a side list for future weeks.)
4. Make sure your priorities align with your organization’s expectations.
5. Be realistic about the time you have – include only tasks you have time for that week. Identify any tasks that are due and there may not be time for.
6. Include contingency time for unanticipated tasks that come up during the week. (For example, include tasks that will take 85% of the time you have that week, with 15% contingency time.)
7. Break the list down to days in the week. By doing this, you will organize what you will focus on each day.
8. Keep your To Do list visible (manually or using an app).
9. Check your To Do list twice a day to see how you are progressing.
10. Don’t stray from your To Do list, unless there is a compelling reason.
photo: jesadaphorn, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
How often do you hear the word simplicity mentioned when describing the art of managing? Do you consider simplicity a component of your management style? Simplicity involves ease, clarity, no frills and a lack of complication. We can use more of these elements in our workplaces. Work has become complicated and complex, creating some major advantages. In the process, however, we have lost sight of the value of simplicity. Reinstating simplicity into managing can streamline operations and improve productivity.
What are some ways to reintroduce simplicity into your managing? Here are a few ideas and I am sure you can identify some ways as well. You can bring simplicity and clarity into your communication by speaking and writing succinctly and with brevity. You can pull back from challenges and observe for a while to identify the basics of the challenge and find solutions that address them. You can identify and honor priorities, bringing simplicity by creating focus on what is important. You can ask your team members to find their own ways to simplify without losing quality, and share them with the team.
Give simplicity a try in your managing. Let it remove the extraneous and bring focus to the essential.
“ That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean, to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
– Steve Jobs
photo: sumetho, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Matrix organization: a cross-functional work team, which brings together individuals who report to different parts of the company in order to complete a particular project or task.
Managing in a matrix is laughable without established priorities, resource allocation and defined goals, fully supported by top management. How many matrix managers have that? Not many. The usual state of things is that the matrix manager is told to get it done without them. Top management is often deaf to their pleas regarding constantly shifting priorities, inadequate resources, team members operating in silos and having no clout.
Your success as a manager or project manager in a matrix depends on your ability to lead above you, beside you and below you. Start with well- defined goals for a project, assigned responsibilities and deadlines and get every participant’s agreement on them. If you don’t get agreement, stop and go no further. If you proceed without agreement, you are asking for frustration. At this point, look horizontally for buy-in or vertically for a champion. It’s about accountability for every member of the team, up, down and around. If you don’t create accountability, where are you going? You are going into a dysfunctional matrix that won’t be as much fun as the movie. Don’t live in a dream world that blinds you from the truth.
The matrix movie trailer (2:28)
You can manage in a matrix if you have a voice, guts, and an instinct for self – preservation (in case you can’t change the world).
Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net