Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Effective Executive - Know Thy Time

The reality of a knowledge worker and even more if he is an executive is that they have very limited time at their disposal. They have to attend many meetings where nothing is done or have to do something just for being an executive at the company.

The most effective way of knowing where an executive's time goes is to maintain a time log. It might be startling in the beginning to know where exactly the time is going but it is the first step in a right diagnosis.

Once the logging is done, an effective executive can ask the following questions to save time.

1. What will happen if I dont do this?
2. Is there some other person who can do this more effectively than me?
3. Am I wasting someone else's time (for e.g by requiring everyone at a meeting when only a few are required etc..)

and respond effectively.

These are the general time wasters an organization to watch for as these also cause unnecessary time wastes

1. Recurrent crisis - If the same crisis occurs the second time, watchout for laziness as someone is not doing their job right or not taking the time to do it correctly.
2. Overstaffed = Adding more people sometimes doesn't increase the speed of the task, but decreases it as the interactions required between the poeple increases a lot.
3. Malorganization - Meetings are required because all the knowledge related to a task is not within one person's head and people need to come together to get all the information to do certain tasks. If meetings are taking more than 1/4 of the working time, it means the organization of a company is not correct and the information is being spread too thin or lot of people are doing the task only one person should do.
4. Malfunction in information - Sometimes plant provides information in some format and the executive wants it in another format. There is unnecessary time wasted in converting the information from one format to another. The best way is to automate this.

After all these are resolved, the executive arrives as the free time he has. This is his discretionary time. Any thing worth doing cannot be done quickly and it needs some block of time to be able to do that. For e.g. writing a first draft of a summary cannot be done in half an hour with all the interruptions. But if there is a two hour time block where one can't be disturbed then a draft can be prepared. So scheduling uninterrupted time blocks are important.

So the effective executive schedules his important work in large enough time blocks so that he will get done more without interruptions.

The final thing to remember is that this is a continuous process. If you have analyzed your time sometime back and made required changes, after six months, time slowly starts creeping into established habits. So a continuous analysis needs to be done to keep track of time and effectively utilize it.

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