Effective Time Management for the Busy City Executive

Time ManagementThe MD of a digital marketing agency was implementing a new business strategy. He presented me with a long list of tasks all of which were critical to the business changes he wanted to drive through his company and many people were relying on his actions and decisions. The difficulty lay in how to manage the limited amount of time he had and keep his stress levels under control, whilst being effective and timely in carrying out those tasks.

Managing time well is critical to personal effectiveness and keeping stress levels under control. As part of my executive coaching tool kit I like to use Dr Stephen Covey's time management matrix.

To evaluate your current level of effectiveness, firstly, reflect on your last full day of work and numerically list out all activities; include all emails, phone calls, meetings, conversations etc.

Draw a box with four quadrants.

Label the two columns 'urgent' and 'non urgent'.

Label the two rows 'important' and 'not important'.

Next label the quadrants 1-4 starting at top left finishing at bottom right:

  Urgent Non-Urgent
Important 1 2
Non-important 3 4

Cross referencing columns and rows will produce the following quadrants:

1. Urgent and Important

2. Not urgent but Important

3. Urgent but not Important

4. Not urgent and not important

Next, allocate each activity to a quadrant; inputting the numerical list number you gave to the activity. Once completed, each quadrant will be full of numerical values.

Executives with room for improving their effectiveness tend to have an overcrowd quadrant '1';many pressing activities.

Investing time in activities specifically aimed at building working relationships, production, planning etc fall in quadrant '2'.

Quadrant '3' activities are interruptions e.g some report writing, attending certain meetings, issue resolution, error management, rework etc

The final quadrant are activities usually seen as distractions; those that do not positively contribute to the performance output of the working day e.g. some phone calls, emails, time wasters, as well as perhaps enjoyable activities.

Working through this matrix with a stressed executive I tend to find quadrants '1' and '4' are mostly populated and the least populated quadrant is '2'.

Reducing quadrant '4' activities and increasing quadrant '2' activities will increase effectiveness.

I coach city executives to define meaningful goals and I ensure they remain accountable for the timely delivery; which leads to an increase in quadrant '2' activities. Quadrant '2' is the sweet spot - the place where we all need to be most of the time if we want to maximise the return on our energy-investment, remain highly effective and healthy!

Examples of current assignments:

Managing partner of a law firm wanting to increase productivity across the core team.

Accountant aiming to increase new business by 20%.

Enterprise sales executive seeking a better work life balance.

To find out more about Lee Bernard's services and coaching practice please contact me on 0207 692 4886 or visit www.bernardkaizen.co.uk