Time management for teams is vital. Colleagues demand your time. Meetings are a major time-suck. Being time poor is a tragedy of the commons.
Why’s it vital? You and your colleagues hold the key to you all being more productive. If you can just work uninterrupted for 40 minutes at one stretch, you’ll be 66% more productive.
There are two kinds of interruption that disrupt your workflow and kill your productivity:
Interruptions Controlled By You:
- checking email every time you get a notification (yep, you control this – it’s your choice)
- checking Facebook
- getting up for a break
- interrupting someone else
- answering the phone (see email)
Interruptions Not Controlled By You:
- a colleague interrupts you
- last-minute requests for urgent information
- needing more information before you can progress
- an emergency
Step one is to eliminate the ones that you control, by turning off alerts and just focusing on one thing for 40 minutes.
Step two is to make the interruptions that you don’t control more controllable. That means negotiating with your colleagues, your boss, her boss. You all need to agree that, when your special sign is up, you can’t be interrupted – unless there’s an emergency. You all need to agree that meetings have a declared purpose, that everyone turns up and leaves on time, and that everyone is present during that time – so not covertly checking email or doing something else that wastes your collective time.
So that’s the short-term taken care of. You can then look at longer term distractions. Here I’m thinking of those “initiatives” and “special projects” that management cook up. You have to get them done as well, but how do they align with the company’s strategic objectives, and your own? It’s important to know this, because if you understand the reasons, you can then increase your own sense of control. They belong to you, and you can prioritise yourself. You don’t have to go running back to the boss every time you have a conflict in your schedule.
Because when you do that, you get recommended to go on a Time Management course, and no one wants that, do they?
“At the Harvard Business School, the philosophy has long been to eschew formal training in time management, instead overloading students purposely to force them to learn for themselves how to prioritize and become better time managers.”