If you feel you are surrounded by chaos and never get to do what you originally planned to, you are probably blaming it on poor time management. Such a scapegoat! It is easy to fall into this trap when you consider all the things that can disrupt your day no matter how carefully you planned it.
Even the best leaders are faced with the same challenges, but they deal with them not through better time management, but through more effective management. Rather than defining each activity in terms of planned versus unexpected, they find ways in which to accomplish the planned through the unexpected. One method involves breaking each activity into three steps – prepare, do, review.
Prepare for each activity by asking yourself what, how, why and who.
- What is it that you are going to be doing?
- How are you going to do this?
- Why are you doing this? What do you hope to achieve?
- Who will be involved, or who will be affected?
Once you have prepared, you can act. The preparation will help guide you with exactly what needs to be done, instead of you jumping from one task to another as you try to figure things out.
Take a moment to assess the outcome. What did you do, and what was the result? What lessons were learned (hint: there is always a lesson to be learned), and what could you have done differently.
This approach stops you from acting impulsively every time something unexpected comes up. It breaks the habit of attempting to resolve the situation as quickly as possible so you can get back to what you planned to do. The more you practice this approach, the easier it will become to use the opportunity to also do something planned. Don’t see unplanned meetings as an interruption, see it as an opportunity for you to discuss something important with a colleague during a break. See certain problems as opportunities to develop key skills, and use customer service problems as a way to correct broader issues within your operation.
Failing to prepare blinds you to the opportunities that can come from this unexpected activity. It also blocks you from having a clear path to follow in completing the activity, while not reviewing the outcome and lessons learned inhibit your ability to grow and manage.
Implement the Prep-Do-Review method in your daily routine and discover how every activity, whether planned or not, can be turned into a management opportunity.
About Out of the Office Virtual Assistance:
At Out of the Office, we offer ideas and ways to increase your productivity, decrease your workload, and work more efficiently. We nurture a successful business relationship, while continuing to grow as your business partner. We are focused on streamlining your administration, social media planning and execution, and offering creative solutions for your business success.Image Credit: ThePixelman | CCO Public Domain