time management

10 ways to create more time to do the work you want

Hundreds of books have been written about how to save time. Fact is, saving time is not the leader’s goal — effectiveness is the objective. And we can become more effective if we make better choices about the way we spend the time we have available to us.

To make the best use of this list, first do one simple exercise: write, in no more than a sentence or two, the role you are responsible for carrying out. Not the activities you engage in, but the role for which you are held responsible. For example, “I am responsible for providing my viewers with the best local report available in my market.”

Now, understand that the key to effectiveness is being able to spend your time only on activities that directly contribute to carrying out your role. (Your boss may have told you to sort mail, but you understand that sorting the mail does not help you provide the best local report in the market.)

If you can, begin to think of the activities you choose to engage in as “investments” in your quest for effectiveness. For example, giving a reporter specific feedback about a chronic sourcing problem might require you to invest time you really don’t have today, but if that feedback could save you 10 minutes at deadline from this day forward, it would be time well-spent.

Here are 10 hints for how to invest your time.

Clarify your role: We waste so much time wondering what the boss expects of us. Why not ask? Then ask again, until you get a clear, consistent answer. Check back at least weekly to review real situations and the decisions you made.

Be clear about your expectations: If we waste time wondering what the boss wants, how about the people who work for us? Are we sure they know exactly what we want on this assignment, this beat, this project? Don’t wait for them to ask what you want; invite them to help you develop guidelines. End conversations and meetings by reviewing what everyone agreed to do. Seize opportunities — while editing, running staff meetings, talking over lunch — to reinforce your expectations.

Schedule the important stuff: If it matters, schedule it. It will be harder to cancel. Reserve time for activities that improve the staff’s work in the long-term — feedback sessions, difficult conversations, career updates — and prepare for them.

Coach all day: Talking with staff throughout the day can save you time at the end. For example, taking an extra five minutes with reporters at the idea stage and when they’ve finished reporting (but before they write) can eliminate surprises and save precious minutes at filing time.

Manage your meetings: Distribute agendas in advance. Schedule only as many items as you can reasonably address, including discussion and questions. Start and end on time. Encourage all to participate, and don’t let anyone dominate. Stay on topic. End by reviewing what everyone agreed to do.

Upgrade every interaction: Editing a story? Take time to applaud good writing, or attack a reporting problem. Planning coverage? Invite someone from another desk. Lunching with a peer? Get feedback on your staff’s work. Seize routine meetings and conversations as chances to seek ideas, offer feedback or teach important lessons.

Stop the clock: Interrupt the flow of a meeting or one-on-one conversation to stress a really important point — the staff’s extraordinary effort; a story’s obvious bias, a staffer’s ethical lapse, repeated errors. But beware: Stop the clock too often and no one will listen.

Avoid e-mail quicksand: When you must check e-mail, scan for messages that demand your immediate attention. Deal later with the routine. Ask your boss to indicate in the subject field whether you need to respond immediately — and do the same for your staff.

Plan well (and delegate): Avoid crisis management by planning in advance for important coverage or initiatives. Put the planning meeting on your schedule. Name someone else to own and manage the plan, making clear how you want to be updated. Stay in touch, but don’t micromanage.

Work the room: Talk each day with at least one person who’s not on your staff. Ask the most dangerous question: “How are you doing?” The time you invest in building relationships with your colleagues will pay off in collaboration and smoother deadlines.

Bottom line: To really be effective, we have to invest our time in activities that have the most impact on our work. And that will only happen when we look at our jobs as more than surviving the daily grind.

For instance, you can edit stories for the next deadline really well, but if you don’t devote time to developing the staff that produces those stories, you’ll edit the same problems every day.

The ideas listed above all have a connection to the long-term. All will help you reap benefits beyond today.

They are good investments. Try a few. Read more

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What Great Bosses Know about 6 tips for new managers

Following their promotions, new managers often experience a curious combination of feelings: pride and panic. Sound familiar?

The pride comes from being recognized as a high performer. You’ve been told you are someone with the potential to help an organization’s product and people improve. The panic comes from another message: a phantom voice in your head that whispers: “This is the day they find out you’re really not qualified for this job.”

You fear that the phantom voice may have a point. After all, you were probably dropped into management with no special training. Yet, each day you’re asked to solve supervisory problems that are often surprising but rarely simple.

That’s why it’s helpful to listen to a few other voices — veteran managers who have walked in your shoes. They’ve been through the pride-and-panic stage. They’ve learned from experience and are willing to share their wisdom.

Candy Altman

At a recent Poynter seminar for New Managers, our visiting faculty instructor Candy Altman brought just such voices into the conversation. Candy’s a corporate VP of news for the Hearst Television stations. She rose through staff and leadership ranks of TV stations, overseeing and mentoring countless managers. She surveyed some of them for her presentation “Six Mistakes New Managers Make.” From their top “new manager” gaffes as well as her own, she developed her list.

I’m sharing it here, and adding links to additional resources on the topics she addresses:

Six Tips for New Managers from Candy Altman

1. Delegate: You can’t do it all yourself, and if you do, two things happen — things won’t get done well and you won’t live up to your responsibility to train those who work for you.

2. Don’t stay in your comfort zone: New managers do this by gravitating toward people like them when hiring and focusing on tasks they know.

3. Adapt your skill set: Recognize that the skills that made you great at your old job may not translate to your new job. Understand that you will be dealing with a lot of gray areas in your new job, where your old job might have been fact-based.

4. Build your time management skills: Build them for work and for your life. If you don’t, you will be tortured all the time and feel like you’re not accomplishing anything. If you don’t find time to enjoy your life outside of work, you will burn out.

5. Know that it’s lonely at the top: Understand, truly understand that managing people can be isolating. You are making decisions that affect your employees’ livelihoods. You are evaluating them and giving feedback. You are no longer their after-work, dinner and drinking companion. Make new friends outside work.

6. Define and communicate a vision: What do you stand for? If you want people to follow you, you must lead with a clear mission.

I hope Candy’s list helps you keep the pride and calm the panic. For good measure, you can check out the list of related posts for new managers below this article. As you can see, aspiring great bosses are our favorite people!

And you can listen to this podcast, in which I identify the one very big and needless nagging fear that new managers should put to rest:

Poynter’s “What Great Bosses Know” podcast is sponsored by The City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism.

You can download the complete series of these podcasts free on iTunes U. Read more


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