In 2020, managers are busier than ever before. That means time management capabilities have become increasingly valuable. Of course, if you’re already a manager I’m sure you’re aware of the classic time management advice, delegating tasks, staying organized, setting SMART goals, etc.
All of these time management techniques would be great for entry-level workers or first-time managers, but if you’re a seasoned pro you don’t need to waste your time going through the obvious.
Instead, today I want to go over five ways you can save time as a manager that you may not have heard of.
Implement Technology Breaks
One way to improve productivity as a manager is to implement technology breaks every 15 to 20 minutes throughout your daily routine. The term ‘technology breaks’ is really a misnomer of sorts because we aren’t talking about taking a break from technology every 15 minutes, we are talking about taking a break from work for technology every 15 minutes.
Yes, that may sound odd, but taking a break every 15 minutes or so to answer text messages, reply to emails, and even go through social media for just a couple minutes can make you more productive throughout the day. That’s because instead of bouncing back and forth between tasks you can maintain focus with shorter undistracted work periods.
The evidence for the effectiveness of technology breaks comes from a 2013 study done by Dr. Larry Rosen on a group of students studying habits(Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 29, No. 3, 2013).
Dr. Rosen found that the average attention span for children studying was only about six minutes before they were distracted by the technology that surrounds them. He concluded that technology breaks are an ideal way to deal with this constant distraction.
Instead of attempting to constantly switch back and forth from social media and text messages to studying all day long, Dr. Rosen found that students who utilized a sustained work period for 15 minutes, followed by a technology break for a couple minutes to destress and refocus were far more productive.
Technology breaks also work in unison with other studies that have illustrated time and again that human attention spans simply don’t last for hours at a time, no matter what your strict parents told you.
In fact, a recent study conducted by Alejandro Lleras, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, found that participants who took a short break while focusing on a visual task maintained the same level of performance for 40 minutes, but performance declined for those who didn’t take any breaks (Cognition, Vol. 118, No. 3, 2010).
The evidence is clear, humans need breaks to effectively work. Now, maybe 15 minutes isn’t a long enough period of work for you, after all you’re a manager with years of experience meaning your attention span is probably longer, but the principle still applies.
Turn off the technology completely for parts of the day and only go back to it for short, pre-set periods and your productivity will improve.
Hire A Recruiter
In 2020, you really shouldn’t be wasting time on recruiting, interviewing or hiring as a manager unless it’s for a key position.
Even then, these days executive staffing agencies are able to hire quality top-level executives and save you time and money during the process.
So if you’re still posting to job boards and doing background checks yourself, it may be time to give that up and focus on more pressing concerns.
Try Time Tracking Software
Sometimes just having a good idea of where you’re wasting your time is enough to make a big difference in productivity. That’s why time tracking apps have become so popular in recent years.
Apps like Harvest and Proofhub that offer time tracking services have become almost a necessity in the modern workplace. The majority of the time these apps are used to track employees’ working hours, to see what they are working on and for how long, that way businesses can better use their resources.
Time tracking apps shouldn’t just be for employees, however. Managers need to be utilizing time tracking software as well. Not so you can show it to HR and prove your working hours though, so you can find ways to be more efficient.
For example, you may find that you are spending far more time with one client than another, or that you are wasting time replying to emails all day when you should be interfacing with clients more.
Shared Inbox Software
Shared Inbox Software is another great tool for saving time as a manager that you may not have thought of. Shared inbox software can help aggregate your business’ communications to help you stay up to date and in contact without spending hours sorting through gmail.
Intuitive sorting dashboards make navigating thousands of emails and instant messages a breeze. The best of these programs also offer phone transcription services so you don’t have to sit in on every relevant call, all the data will be there for you when it’s done.
Implementing technology like shared inbox software can help improve communication within your team and with clients allowing you to spend more time on what’s important as a manager.
Get Some Sleep
The evidence for the value of sleep is overwhelming. There have been countless studies since the 19th century when scientists recommended shifting the work day to eight hours instead of nine that have conclusively proved the value of sleep.
One of the most recent of these studies was done in 2018 by author Michael Grandner, PhD, MTR, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program and assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson. The study dissected data from the Sleep and Healthy Activity, Diet, Environment, and Socialization (SHADES) study that included 1,007 adults between the ages of 22 and 60 years.
Researchers found that compared to those who regularly got 7 to 8 hours of sleep, workers who reported getting 5 to 6 hours experienced 19% productivity loss, and workers who got less than 5 hours of sleep experienced 29% productivity loss.
Dr. Robert Yang, the co-author on the study said of the results, “this is further evidence that sleep is not wasted time — it’s wisely invested time!” So remember to listen to the Doc and get some rest.
Hopefully these time management techniques will help you save some time and improve your productivity going forward. Being a manager is a tough business these days. You have to be able to do it all. Thankfully, there are a lot of tools out there to help, so don’t go it alone!