As economic conditions get tougher, everyone has had to do more with less. But when workplace demands for higher productivity mean that management workloads become unwieldy, whole organizations suffer unless leaders learn to manage their time by managing themselves.
“Most of us respond to rising demands in the workplace by putting in longer hours,” say Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy (Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time, Harvard Business Review, Oct 1/07). Unfortunately, time is a finite resource—too many long days put leaders into stress overload, which can reduce productivity.
Inventor and entrepreneur Edwin Lee has noted that overstressed leaders often lose their grip on good time management. “(They) clean their desks, answer their mail, (and) do subordinates' work” instead of their own.
And hurts team productivity, as team members struggle to cope not only with increased demands on their productivity, but chaotic leadership as well.
The solution? Adopt a few simple strategies for using your time more effectively; take care of yourself so you can function at your best, and coach your team on these successful time management skills.

Discourage multitasking
Studies show that a temporary shift in attention from one task to another – stopping to answer an e-mail or take a phone call, for instance – increases the amount of time necessary to finish the primary task by as much as 25%, a phenomenon known as “switching time”. It’s far more productive to fully focus for 90 to 120 minutes, take your mind off work for a bit, then fully focus on the next activity.

Concentrate on the important, not the merely urgent.
Urgent things demand our immediate attention, even if they’re not important. Important things, which may not be urgent, are usually related to results we want or need to achieve. Give top priority to those things which are both urgent and important, second priority to the important but not urgent, and consider ignoring things that are neither important nor urgent.

Set aside time to work on the important but not urgent.
The more you do this, the fewer crises you'll experience. Don’t let a lack of planning on your part create an emergency for someone else.

Streamline or eliminate unnecessary or time-consuming tasks.

Don’t strive for perfection unless perfection is actually necessary.

Reserve your time for tasks that you and only you can get done. Assign all other tasks appropriately within your team.

Finish what you start in one session whenever possible, reducing time lost to ‘time switching’.

Make time for planning
Every moment spent on planning will repay itself many times over, so make daily planning and preparation a priority. Plan each day’s work the night before. Prepare ahead for meetings and events. Make contingency plans for keeping important events on track if something goes wrong.

Create some strategies for personal productivity
Learn some tricks for staying focused: get out of your office or close your door when you need time to concentrate. Check email and return phone calls only at scheduled times.

Manage your energy and teach your team to do the same.
Make a point of getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Make time for fun, and cultivate interests outside of work. Cut back on alcohol and caffeine. Eat properly. Breathe deeply. Drink more water and take more walks.

Watch for signs of overload.
Are you and your team spending too much time on low-priority tasks or doing other people’s work? If you see this happening it's time to rethink the way you’re managing time and find a better strategy for reaching your objectives.

Leadership skills builder:
1. Do I start each day with a plan?
2. Can I tell the difference between tasks that both important and urgent, those which are important but not urgent, and those which are neither urgent nor important?
3. Do I plan my activities to cover contingencies and ensure that the urgent and important items get top priority?
4. Do I reserve time to work on the important but not urgent tasks?
5. Have I streamlined or eliminated unnecessary or time-consuming activities?
6. Do I use strategies to control distractions and manage my focus?
7. Do I take pains to manage my energy?

Author's Bio: 

Achieve your management potential with success tools and tips you can put to work today. Bart Mindszenthy and Harvey Silver have more than 80 years of combined expertise in management and leadership consulting across all sectors while concurrently providing focused training programs across North America. Their bestselling book "Leadership@Work:Be a Better Team Leader Anytime, Anywhere, with Anyone" offers practical, hands-on guidance on becoming a more effective leader today.