Have you ever been kept waiting? Have you left others wondering if you were going to show? Today, more than ever, with constantly changing expectations for work deadlines, processing information, and linking with others to get things done, finding enough time is a challenge, even with our technology supporting us with better-than-ever productivity tools. So, this is a refresher and reminder; and for some, a polite challenge.
Be on time. Start on Time. End on Time.
Time and its use in the workplace is about respect and executive function. What is executive function? Executive function happens in the brain’s pre-frontal cortex, which makes up 17% of your brain. The other 73% can be grouped into the reactive brain. The brain is a powerful organ and tool, though it is not equipped to deal with the billions of bits of information coming at it all day long. The pre-frontal cortex helps you to filter and sort so you can consciously process and reflect on the priorities at hand.
When you are stressed, or trying to process too much, or you rely too heavily on your reactive brain, you may short circuit the pre-fontal cortex and lose your executive function capabilities and with it, your time management. Don’t worry, it happens to all of us!
Time management is a workplace basic, and yet can be hard for some people, particularly if it wasn’t reinforced early in life, or if there are difficulties with executive function. Here’s how it might show up.
Being late all the time or missing deadlines! Every person is responsible to show up to work on time, and deliver work to deadlines, otherwise a job is put at risk, and an individual’s impact is diminished by demonstrating what others might view as a lack of self-respect, or respect for others.
Leaders or business owners may be over-scheduled, keep people waiting, lead poorly organized meetings that run over, or put off important employee development or project management meetings with key team members due to lack of time.
Whether you are a seasoned professional or a newcomer to work today, check in and see if you are respecting time; yours and others. Here are a few tools to consider:
Time Management for Job Interviews: Running late for an interview? That will count against you so leave extra time or take a practice run to the interview the day before so you know the route.
Time Management for Work Commitments: Need to be on time for client meetings. Leave extra time in case of an unforeseen delay, and if you are not going to make it on time, be sure to phone (or text) and let the person know you will be late, and when they can expect you to arrive. That shows your respect for others. If you are chronically late for in-house meetings, schedule your day in 15 minute increments so you leave 15 minutes open between meetings to keep you from getting caught in someone else’s poor time management.
Time Management for Leaders: Use an executive assistant to run your schedule for you so that you do not demonstrate poor time-management (and executive function) to your team. Have each of your team members share the responsibility for setting meeting agendas and time (you can approve in advance) and make sure that no meeting is held that doesn’t have a specific purpose and meaningful agenda, ending with action items, assignments and follow-up deadlines.
Analyze Your Time Robbers: What is stealing your precious time? Here are ideas and you can identify which one is costing you time, eliminate it, or challenge yourself to plan to do something to change it:
- Your Physical Body or Energy—Change How You Eat or Sleep;
- Your Organization Skills—Find a Tool or Take a Course;
- You Are Out of Sequence on a Project or Task—Re-order and Chunk;
- You May Have Too Big a Scope for Tasks or Projects—Filter/Scale Differently and Let Go of Perfectionism
- You May Be Distracted By Other Things or Non-Work Issues—Change a Habit or Seek Help Outside of Work with A Coach or Counselor
- You May Not Have the Skills or Know-How to Begin—Get Help From Your Leader or Work On Obtaining the Skills to Improve Self-Confidence
Challenge yourself to change a poor time management or executive functioning habit this week! You’ll expand your influence and impact with more effective habits. It will reduce your stress, too!