I was never one of those leaders who was able to get my work done in the
standard work hours that our organization had. I found myself coming in early, staying late, and working weekends. That became more of a problem when you could work from home with laptop computers, and even more so when you could access your work email on your smart phone. If fact, years ago, the leader of our large IT department told me that we don’t have any standard work hours any longer. By that time, the work day had expanded and became part of our non-work life.
What are you to do when you want to be more productive and demonstrate better time management so that you will have more time for family, ministry, friends and hobbies?
To have a better work/life balance, you need to better manage your workday. I once had a leader who told us that if our calendars were a mess, we had only ourselves to blame. He told us that we owned our own calendars. And there is a lot of truth in that statement.
Leaders will have more control over some of the suggestions that follow, but the idea is appropriate for everyone. Understanding that there will certainly be meetings that you will be required to attend – staff meetings, for example – here are 5 suggestions on how to better manage your work calendar:
- Determine which meetings are truly essential for you to attend. In a leader’s busy schedule, you will need to differentiate the “nice to attend” versus the “need to attend” meetings.
- Consider whether a team member can attend some meetings in your place. In some instances, this could be looked at as a developmental opportunity for them as they represent their leader. Have them report back to you on the meeting – what was discussed and next steps. In my last assignment, as an area-level team, we would often have several team members attending the same meeting. This was probably not the best use of their time.
- Schedule “Desk Time” on your calendar. This communicates to your team members and others that you will be in your office for any quick “pop-ins”, returning phone calls and reading email. Clearly communicate to your team about this desk time.
- Meet for only as long as you need to. Just like the Liberty Mutual commercials telling you that you only pay for what you need, only meet for as long as it takes. Too often, meetings are scheduled for a certain amount of time – often times an hour – and the meeting is stretched out to fill that time. I worked with someone who lived this suggestion, letting attendees leave when necessary business was completed, indicating that she was giving them “the gift of time”. Give others the gift of time.
- Determine if a meeting is really needed A leader I worked with would often ask “What problem are we trying to solve here?” Meetings should have an agenda. Evaluating the agenda, the leader of the meeting can determine if the meeting really needs to be held. Perhaps an email communication would take care of what is needed. People generally love it when they have a meeting cancelled. It’s unexpected found time for them.
Other considerations would be to make those at times difficult sacrifices such as not leaving the building to go out for lunch, putting limits on the number of mentees you take on, as well as the professional development activities you engage in. Making better use of your time will allow you more time to focus on what is most important at and away from work.
What other items would you add to this list?