Time management tips for leaders BY leaders

If you have ever struggled with managing your time and actions as a leader, don’t feel bad.  Everyone has a tale or seven about how time has gotten away from them or how they haven’t been as productive as they would like to be.

Which is why time management should be at the forefront of every leaders’ agenda.

Especially for new leaders…  learning to manage a whole new set of peers, tasks, responsibilities and employees can just about break most humans.  That’s why when I came across the following advice, I knew that it HAD to be shared!

These time management tips come from two experienced attractions leaders, Meghan Milliken (left) who is a Creative Intern at Herschend Family Entertainment, and Brittany Arndt (right), who is an Operations Leader at Walt Disney World.

I had reached out to Meghan for some help on an IAAPA eLearning course I am working on, and she enlisted the help of her roommate, Brittany.  I was looking for three major time management challenges that new supervisors face.

Here is what they said. You can take their advice to the bank!

Time Management Challenges

  • Don’t wear yourself out: when you’re a new manager, this may seem like the time to prove your worth – and what better way is there to show you’ve done that than with working extra hours? What most people don’t realize is that the extra hours put in today, will only lead to a lack of energy tomorrow. It’s not just understanding that balance, but its also understanding you shouldn’t have to prove your worth ethic through self-exhaustion.
  • Finding the right time to get to know your team – Respect is a two way street and one-on-one conversations with your team can help, but having to leave for something time sensitive or “more important” can be an issue. At the end of the day, projects like making a bulletin board doesn’t gain your teams TRUST, but talking to them and getting to know them will. Projects may look good on paper, but this is about learning to spend time on something much less tangible, but FAR more impactful on the people you’re leading. After all workplace relationships are the foundation on which your team stands.
  • Setting aside time to talk to your leader/boss – This one is especially tricky for NEW leaders with a boss they’ve never worked with before. It can be intimidating to approach them so many people don’t until they need help. This is the point of no return. Where the boss is left to imagine what it is you’ve actually been doing since you started. Instead of reaching this point, take a head start in requesting scheduled meetings with them. Taking the time to talk on a regular basis allows new leaders to learn their boss’ expectations and allows their bosses to offer advice as they pave their new path of leadership.

Some of this may actually sound counter-intuitive, and that’s what I really like about it!  If we only let our intuition drive us, we may never get out of our own way.

The first item on Meghan and Brittany’s list takes patience.  New leaders may not know it yet, but they are in a marathon, not a sprint. Conserving your energy is the only way to survive the long haul. It’s like Lao Tzu said…

Item 2 to me is about where you choose to spend (or invest) your time.  For new leaders, it can be easy to hide behind projects that take time, but offer little in terms building true rapport with your team.  If you look at time as an investment, you can also then look at the ROI (return on investment). “What will this activity do for me, the team or the organization in the long run?”

And how about that last one… are they really saying that in order to save time you have to spend more time?  Well, yes.  But spend it more wisely.  Spend it being proactive rather than reactive. Spend it building something, not putting out fires.

I can’t thank Meghan and Brittany enough for this incredible insight!  If you have time management tips that would help other leaders, feel free to put them in the comments or email them to me here.  Happy to pass them along!

Thanks for reading!

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The art of waiting

The other day Linda and I stopped for a quick bite at local pizza joint. As Linda went to use the ladies room, I walked outside to claim a spot at one of the “al fresco” tables. I didn’t have my phone to check email or play a game while waiting for her, so I watched the people go by and the clouds move across the sky.

Not actual clouds I saw that day! :o)

One of the clouds looked like a little alien guy. The clouds were moving pretty quickly, so he moved and morphed into something else in just a few seconds.

And then he was gone. My little alien friend was now a hippo, and in a few more moments he will be something else.

And that’s okay. And here’s what is really ironic… If I had had my phone to take a picture of my alien cloud-dude friend, I probably wouldn’t even have seen him, because I would have been looking at my phone and not up at the sky.

The art of waiting. I get it.

Today technology and systems have made waiting more than just an inconvenience, but a most undesirable event. We have become conditioned to hate to wait because we think we’re missing something.

But what are we really missing?

Without the opportunity to wait, we lose the chance to build anticipation, and to experience and appreciate the moments between the moments, which is often when the really cool stuff happens.  Sometimes we are so consumed with getting to the next “thing” that we completely fumble the time in between.  Guess what?  You can’t get that time back, either.

If I had been so anti-waiting the other day, I never would have met my little cloud alien friend.

Maybe it’s the difference in outlook between spending time and wasting time. Some would say I wasted a few minutes where I could have answered an email or updated Facebook. I say that I spent the time taking in the world around me, and that has value, too.

I read a quote by Lao Tzu recently that really got me thinking about waiting and spending time. He said, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”

Let that sink in. I’ll wait.

This concept of being so busy and unable or unwilling to wait is completely brought on by ourselves. A desire to always go faster and never waste a single second can only go so far. There will come a time when it’s not sustainable, and a lot of people have reached that point. That’s why you see successful business people leaving the business world behind to become a farmer or a trades-person mastering a craft. It’s the old rat race, and you can only stay on that little wheel for so long.

Here are three tips to rediscover the art of waiting:

  • Unplug. Turn off your phone or leave it in an unreachable location. Don’t even make it an option. Spend time doing something completely non-technical.  It may take some time, but you will literally feel yourself unwind. One of my favorite parts of going on some cruises is that there is no cell reception or 3G access.  Oh well.
  • Not everything is urgent. Some things are, and they need to be taken care of quickly.  But some things just aren’t. Some things can WAIT! Define what is urgent versus important in your life and business.  Prioritize accordingly.
  • Say no. No one will respect your time until you do. Being available 24/7 to everyone on the planet may sound like a necessity in a “global, uber-connected” world, but having the courage to say no actually opens more doors than it closes.  This may mean setting specific times that you are available or saying NO to things you found unimportant.

Thanks for spending a few minutes with me!


About the author:  Matt believes there is one major way that leaders and employers WASTE time… we waste time training our employees, especially if we aren’t going to SPEND the time training and preparing our Supervisors.  Take some time to see what you can do about that by clicking here.