“Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed,” states Peter Drucker, The Effective Executive.
How often do you hear yourself or others around you complain about the lack of time in the day? In all aspects of our lives, both professionally and personally, we’d like to have more tasks completed and more time to spare. The business world, in particular, can be especially demanding and you cannot afford to waste any amount of time. In fact, time is a commodity for many and is, therefore, coveted for its value. Managing your time can be achieved in a number of ways and often with methods which already exist in your professional surroundings.
1) Establish a Time Budget During Project Development
Although new projects and initiatives are typically beneficial to an organization, FMs should incorporate time budgets into the proposals at their introduction. By analyzing the amount of time management will spend on guidance and direct involvement with the project, you establish a clear-cut roadmap as to what will be expected of all involved parties. Time is, perhaps, the most finite resource, so it only makes sense that we limit the “financing” of new projects to when human capital is available. Taking on a project in which there is no time to effectively lead or delegate only sets your entire team up for failure.
2) Routinely Measure Where Your Time is Allocated
Upon close examination, many of us will typically find that our perception of how our time is allocated does not match reality. By spending a couple weeks tracking where, exactly, your time is distributed, you gain a bird’s-eye view into your schedule, what items most require your attention, and what can be delegated to those around you. If you, like many FMs, find you spend much of your day on the go, check out FastCompany.com’s comprehensive list of the most effective time-tracking apps to help you understand how your time is truly spent.
3) Eliminate Time Drainers
Once you have an understanding of the big picture, you’re able to create a to-do lists, identify items (and sometimes people) that are the biggest drainers on your schedule, and prioritize your time. Be careful not to get so bogged down in the minute details, though, that your overarching goals are neglected.
4) Expect the Unexpected
As the leader, your team looks to you for positive, optimistic guidance, leaving many FMs to feel that, if they maintain a pessimistic attitude, everything will crumble. The reality is, however, that a healthy dose of cautious consideration can prove beneficial. When mapping out project guidelines, or determining your schedule for the day, account for unexpected speed bumps along the way. This is not necessarily pessimistic, but simply realistic, as it is rare that a project will be seen to completion exactly as originally planned.
5) Factor in Every Step
When mapping out projects, regardless of the size, many facility managers fail to consider all the steps involved. Consider yourself like a chef, preparing for a dinner party. Your project doesn’t begin with the actual cooking. Think about everything you need to do, just to get TO the cooking. There are groceries to buy, driving time, to and from the store, preparation of the food before cooking starts, and table arrangement and settings. Typically, though, there are multiple steps that can run simultaneously. Have a game plan which delegates tasks to help make sure no stone is unturned. Take these factors into consideration, when working your time budget, to ensure all steps are accounted for.
6) Ask for Help and Delegate When Possible
We have already established that your time is precious; now it’s up to you to determine how much it’s worth. Would your energies be better spent putting the final touches on Project A, or could a member of your team complete those tasks while you meet with the CEO regarding final approval on Project B? The ability to delegate is a critical management skill, particularly for the busy FM.
7) Remember That Completing Part of a Task is Better Than Nothing at All
While it is ideal to complete a task in one sitting, this is not always a viable option. If you have an hour until you must leave for the day, and you have estimated the next item on your priority list will take two hours, does it make sense to leave it until tomorrow? Why not give yourself a head start rather than wasting precious time?
8) Learn How and When to Say “No”
Saying “no” is perhaps one of the most difficult skills to learn. Your success is reliant on your ability to perform and perform well. Wouldn’t you rather politely turn down a task now, than have it come out less than perfect later? Your reputation is always on display. If you are absolutely unable to say no, look to your team, identify those with the strengths needed for said project, and delegate accordingly.
9) If You Don’t Know, Ask
Remember that there is strength and wisdom in numbers. If you aren’t sure how to perform a task, or properly estimate how long it will take, ask someone who does. Professional cooperation is a win-win; you gain valuable knowledge and make a connection, with the potential to return the favor. Don’t know anyone experienced with the task at hand? Ask those around you—the pooling of knowledge is a valuable tool.
10) Automate as Much as Possible
Managing a facility requires the juggling of many tasks at once. Thus, automation should be your best friend, eliminating redundant activities and clearing your mind from the tedious details that could be left to your IWMS system to take care of. Examine your processes for any similar tasks that could be grouped and scheduled, therefore allowing you to set aside a blocked off period of time to attend to such items.
11) Appreciate Mistakes
Many look at errors negatively, when in reality, they should be viewed as opportunities. Mistakes shed light on vulnerabilities in procedures. Create a system of checks and balances to ensure everything is operating smoothly and on time. Once errors are found, identify a solution and follow through. Remember, the only true mistake is in a lost opportunity.
12) Map Out Tomorrow’s Activities, Today
Knowing what’s in store for tomorrow gives your mind time to clear and shift focus. Before you leave the office (or before bed, if there is no other time) create a rough outline of priorities for the next day. You will be that much more prepared and ready to hit the ground running.
The old adage of “time is money” could not ring more true than when considering an FMs job performance and the bottom line. Your ability to perform your job is directly affected by how well time is managed and the success of the organization is reflected in the strength of the support team. Use your supporting cast and strategically plan for the best use of your time and see everyone’s success flourish.