Most managers would agree with the following statements.
“There is seldom enough time to complete all my responsibilities, regardless of how well my day was planned on paper.”
“I wish I could create more time to meet my deadlines and produce high quality results consistently.”
All of us have 168 hours per week to work with. How we spend this fixed amount of time determines our success at the workplace and our quality of life.
Basic Factors That Affect Time Management
Everyone manages time. Some manage it effectively, while others do not. Understanding the factors that influence your success or failure with managing your time can help target your focus on improving your performance. Factors that affect time management include, but are not limited to the following items.
Sound familiar? Most of these factors can be positive or negative, depending on the way you manage them. Successful managers understand and accept that time is a fixed resource. It can neither be expanded nor contracted. However, time can be maximized through effective time management techniques.
One method that has proven to be successful is the use of S.M.A.R.T. goals. Many experienced managers are aware that S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting can improve production, sales, marketing, project completion, and strategy development for all businesses. However, even successful managers often overlook the value that S.M.A.R.T. goals can bring to their personal time management efforts.
S.M.A.R.T. Goals for Time Management
Here are some effective ways to use S.M.A.R.T. techniques to generate more time for you to manage your responsibilities effectively. Adopt these suggestions—or develop your own variations—to maximize your time and improve your management performance.
- Specific. To make this component work well, you must commit to be as detailed as possible. For example, if you have a presentation due in five days, you might adopt a specific schedule. You could commit to having a first draft completed on day one, an improved draft on day two, practice your “delivery” on day three, and refine your presentation and practice your “delivery” on day four. By day five, you’ll be ready to make the presentation of your life.
- Measurable. Carefully define your benchmarks (baselines) to measure your progress and effectiveness. For example, should you decide to call 20 percent of your new potential customers next week, further break up your goal into daily measurable goals. If your universe contains 50 potential new clients, commit to contacting at least 10 per day next week. You can then measure your performance on a daily basis with a solid benchmark to help you focus. Don't worry, you’ll find the time once you commit to this plan.
- Achievable. This component can be a positive that becomes a negative if you are not careful. While it’s commendable to be aggressive with your goals, setting them too high, making them unachievable, can be counter-productive. Be reasonable. Set your time management goals to enable you to reach your projections. This leaves you no “lame” excuses for not achieving your targets. You’ll know that if goals are not met, there will be good reasons that you may correct the following week. You win either way.
- Result-oriented. Always focus on what you WANT, not on that which you do NOT want. State your goals positively, without ever mentioning any ramifications of missed targets. If this sounds like an “eyes on the prize” focus, you’re correct. Until someone proves that goals can be achieved by focusing on the results you don’t want, the only way to succeed is recording the desired result and targeting it with all your management expertise.
- Time-limited. Setting a goal that states, “Someday I’ll contact my customer base to increase sales,” is totally useless. As experienced managers know, “someday” never comes in the wonderful world of business. S.M.A.R.T. goals always have a specific time period within which to measure and achieve your targets. For example, statements like “I’ll contact 10 percent of my customer base by direct mail, telephone, or e-mail every week,” establish the required time limitation needed for achievement.
Using S.M.A.R.T techniques to generate more time for you to manage and perform are simple and highly effective. They work. If you have used this technique before to achieve sales, financial, or project goals, you already know how to create and implement this “technology.” You should already know that S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting is very effective. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how effective it is to helping you create more time to become the management star you want to be.