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Always Running Out of Time as the Manager? Here’s what to do About It.

Today we’re going to look at something different. Namely, a group of people we don’t usually address. We spend most of our time focusing on business owners and sales professionals, but today we’ll be discussing managers. This will still help businesspeople in general, even if you’re not exactly a manager. So read on.

Specifically, the topic is the time challenge of managers and what to do about it. I’m mostly talking about people that manage or lead others within small companies. That’s the focus today. These folks face the following four challenges on a daily basis:

1. As the manager, you own the results. You have a large list of things you’re accountable for. That’s tough.

2. If a person that reports to you doesn’t show up for any reason, you own their tasks as well. So oftentimes you have to jump in and do their job for them even while you’re still responsible for your own share of the work.

3. As a manager (compared to an owner), you have less control over the resources you need to get things done.

4. You’re also not 100% in control over your own targets or goals. Sometimes other people shove unrealistic goals in your face and you never get much of a say yourself.

Those issues, if left untreated, can mount up and eventually make you feel stuck. It’s overwhelming when you’re always short on time and don’t have control over the situation. That’s the reality. Sometimes I think it’s actually more difficult to be a manager than an owner in many situations (although being an owner certainly has its own pressures and responsibilities). So, what can you do about it? What are some ways to overcome those challenges? Let’s break it down:

1. First, what can you do individually?

a. Pre-plan the day. Listen, pre-plan the next day either the night or afternoon before. Choose one item that you’re going to accomplish the next day no matter what. If you’re ambitious, you can pick up to three. But keep it simple. Always have a plan for the next day because that’ll free up your time and mental space.

b. Master your schedule. Block out time to work on the important stuff, such as the systems that can help you complete tasks more efficiently, or ways to grow your particular department. Schedule time on the calendar for these important but not necessarily urgent items. If it doesn’t get on the calendar, you won’t do it. You’ll just get stuck in your day-to-day routine. You’ll keep wasting time and things won’t get better.

c. Have a communication plan, both with those who report to you as well as those you report to. How often do you connect with these people? How do they communicate with you? Oftentimes a brief daily tag/huddle will actually free up much of your time, because then you won’t have to interrupt someone or be interrupted throughout the day for minor issues.

d. Develop relationships with other managers in the company. Swap ideas with each other on how to free up time and how to better lead and manage. Also, develop relationships with some managers or leaders outside of your company to learn new ways to get the job done more efficiently.

2. Now let’s look at things from a company standpoint:

a. Know the value of your time within the company. If you get paid $40/hour, don’t do work that’s worth less. Delegate like crazy anything that can be done for, say, $10-35 an hour, should you have the resources.

b. Constantly develop other leaders. Don’t just have one go-to person. You may be overly relying on him or her, whether they’re the owner or someone else that’s higher up in the organization. But you should also develop other go-to people. Never just settle for one person because you’ll get comfortable. Then if that person leaves for whatever reason, you’re in a tough situation. I know this doesn’t apply to everyone depending on how small the company is, but it never hurts to cultivate more relationships.

c. Make sure you understand the objectives. You should always be clear on the top three monthly and quarterly objectives or priorities. It’s super important to keep track of your critical numbers. If you’re ever in doubt about how you’re spending your time, go back and check your monthly/quarterly objectives and critical numbers. That way you’ll know for sure whether or not you’re on the right track.

I know that’s a lot of information, but those are some things to think about if you’re a manager. So go out, take action on these, and make it a better than amazing day.