Everybody has their favorite time management tips for work but I’ve chosen to do a mixture of tips and technologies to help the busy executive. The Pareto principle can be used to explain 80% of our benefit as a leader comes from an investment of only 20% of our time. The “tyranny of the immediate” holds us hostage with all the tasks that somehow bubble up to us as managers and leaders, on a daily basis. How do you fight back? Use good old-fashioned time management strategies and make sure you’ve got the right technologies to battle with.
What is the Difference between a PC and a Workstation?
Most executives probably did not choose the cheapest auto on the market for their driving needs. Workstation class PCs and laptops likewise deliver a much-improved experience. With one of the highest bill rates and largest mailboxes, it is not only important for me to accomplish a lot in a day but to also switch between tasks regularly. While workstations are great for applications such as CAD and graphic arts, they are also ideal for people with large mailboxes, that run multiple applications at the same time or run reports and key applications. There is definitely a cost differential, but the business case for getting the right tool for the right job can make it a no-brainer for professionals, managers and executives. I made the decision to have one eight years ago and feel it is one of the best investments that I make every 2 to 3 years.
Saving Time as an Effective Executive
The father of American business management, Peter Drucker, wrote one of the first and best books on time management called the Effective Executive. In the book, he talks about how effectiveness can be learned and recommends utilizing low-tech tactics such as keeping a daily time log. This is highly recommended for small businesses where managers wear multiple hats but perhaps wish they had more time in a day. The book does a great job reminding us of time management methods such as plotting tasks on the chart of Urgency versus Importance. You will be more impactful if you handle the tasks that are both important and urgent first utilizing this method. Stephen R. Covey called this “Put First Things First” in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Outlook Email Management Best Practices
The email application Outlook has so many features that can provide an executive with an easier life, it’s hard to figure out exactly where to start. If your Outlook mailbox starts to get slow, understand that it is more about the number of items in folders than the total size of your mailbox.
For that reason, I encourage users to create subfolders to help reduce the item count in large mailboxes such as your main Inbox and Sent folders. I create subfolders such as 2016Inbox, 2015Inbox, 2014Inbox otherwise I’d have tens of thousands of messages in the main folder that have yet to move to other subfolders. I also utilize Outlook’s rules to automatically move my favorite newsletters into a newsletter subfolder, as well as other information that I only need to see periodically, such as alerts or notifications that other people are responsible for.
Since I must prioritize which messages need attention, I also use Outlook’s Follow-up Tags (red flag) to mark messages that are important but not more important than what I’m working on at this moment. You can then sort the column ascending to quickly find your list of “follow-up” tasks in Outlook. Mark Complete when done to remove from you action item list.
Don’t forget that if you get a lot of spam, you can save time by having it stripped out by a good spam filtering tool. Not only does filtering save you time by taking the crap out automatically, but it also saves bandwidth each of those messages steal from all of your users. The filters intercept the mail before getting to your email server. Take advantage today.
Using Dragon Dictation Software
A few years back, I was helping a healthcare client migrate their Dragon Naturally Speaking software from one PC to another. While I continue to write long documents, reports and various briefs and agendas, I still only type about 20 words a minute with probably 15 mistakes. Embracing the Dragon dictation software was a no-brainer for me. I’ve had to retrain my brain to speak in dictation style for reports, articles like this and many other documents and content.
After a brief training of the software, you are pointed to your document repository for an understanding of your key words and syntax. Then you can be off to the races, composing documents in no time. If you embrace the software and it sticks, you’ll soon appreciate all the time you’ll save. There are native add-ins for Microsoft applications such as Word, Outlook and others. There is also a dictation window which spawns when utilizing for browsers and other non-natively supported applications.
Taking Advantage of Outlook Shared Calendars
I live by my calendar. If I commit to a task that I know will take over a certain amount of time, I create a placeholder on my calendar so that I remember to work on it. Our entire organization shares its calendars with each other so we can easily coordinate meetings and prearrange our regular huddles and company meetings to avoid conflicts. Shared calendars help teams collaborate and work together. While an administrator can grant permissions to users and teams, you can actually share your calendar with any teammates right from within Outlook. If you also license Skype for Business you can even schedule Skype meetings in your appointments, so that laptop cameras allow you to see each other’s face. No need to ‘beam me up Scotty.’