Can't Find the Time? That's O.K. Learn How to Make It!

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Image of three people with clocks if front of their faces emphasizing the need for relevant time management tips.

"Where can I find the time?" That's an too common question - but not an easy one to answer. How can you be expected to find the time when so many of the demands against that time are out of your control? This is the IT manager's dilemma - which can be addressed, but only when the real issue is faced - are you doing all you can to manage your time effectively?  Read on to learn more.

IT management demands don't stop, whether it's a new project, service request, ongoing operational need or unexpected problem that takes the best laid plans and throws them out the window.  The truth is, you'll likely never “find the time”, you have to “make the time”.  Not by changing the clock or the calendar, but by balancing schedules, priorities, and responsibilities through a series of carefully crafted tips and techniques.

Do You Have a Time Management Problem?

Knowledge is king, and the first step to "making the time" is to evaluate the extent and consequences of any "time management" problem. This can be quickly achieved through the following series of probative questions:

  • Do you believe you lack sufficient time to meet all of your work obligations?
  • Do you find yourself running late for meetings and if so, how often?
  • How long does it take you to return phone calls?
  • Is that response time considered acceptable in your organization?
  • How long does it take you to respond to e-mails?  (Also Read: Email Usage Policies)
  • Is that response time considered acceptable in your organization?
  • How often do you miss assignment deadlines?
  • How often do others (end-users or managers) have to repeatedly ask you for information that you may have forgotten to provide?
  • How often do you make careless mistakes or omissions because you feel rushed and pressured?
  • Is your workspace messy and cluttered?
  • Can you easily locate files and other information when you need them?
  • Have time management problems damaged your reputation and or credibility with end-users or management (i.e. are you perceived as someone who can get the job done when pushed, but can't manage through busy periods)?
  • Do you feel that alternative approaches to time management could be used to improve your professional performance, alleviate stress or just give you more free time?  (Also Read:  Managing Staff Burnout)
  • Have time management problems been a source of negative performance reviews, impacting potential promotions or salary increases?
  • Are you personally satisfied with your current ability to make the most of available time?

"Making the Time" To-Do List

Once the nature and extent of the time management problem has been determined, it's time to begin crafting relevant, workable solutions.  Effective time management boils down to a series of steps and techniques designed to organize work, keep commitments realistic, and communicate issues and problems:

  1. Define and document priorities and activities - organized to create a picture by day, week and month.
  2. Set a specific and regular for reviewing mail, returning e-mail and voicemails, and other administrative matters.
  3. Eliminate desktop clutter and try to handle each piece of paper only once - act, delegate or file.
  4. Make notes before phone calls or meetings so that you are prepared with comments and questions.
  5. Learn to say no -- or, at the very least, explain the impact of the unexpected on your schedule and other deliverables.
  6. Beware of overly aggressive commitments - keep schedules realistic.  (Also Read:  Project Scheduling Strategies)
  7. Account for the unexpected - schedule projects and other commitments to allow for problems and unwelcome, yet predictable, interruptions.  (Also Read:  Responding to Unexpected Project Delays)
  8. Revise schedules frequently and as appropriate ... if you can't meet a deadline, it is better to let everyone know as soon as possible.
  9. Forgive yourself for problems, delays and the occasional bout of procrastination.
  10. Ask for help or delegate whenever possible.  (Also Read: How to Delegate and Like It)

Continue with more on this subject in our next article Managing with Limited Resources.


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ITtoolkit.com staff writers have experience working for some of the largest corporations, in various positions including marketing, systems engineering, help desk support, web and application development, and IT management.

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