Time management is an essential skill for any leader looking to be successful in their role. From business leaders to politicians to busy CEOs of their own household, world-class leaders understand the importance of their time and prioritize it accordingly. The opportunity cost (i.e. the potential alternative of doing something other than what you are doing) is simply too great to let moments slip by. In this post, we will discuss how world-class leaders manage their time to achieve their goals and succeed in their roles.
Prioritizing High-Value Tasks
One of the most important ways that world-class leaders manage their time is by prioritizing high-value tasks. Taking time to ruthlessly prioritize can be the difference between being successful at a meaningful project and being successful at an irrelevant one. Great leaders understand that not all tasks are created equal, and some have a higher impact on their overall goals than others. By focusing their energy on high-value tasks, they can achieve more in less time and drive the organization forward.
Examples of high-value tasks include strategic planning, building relationships with key stakeholders, and developing new products or services. Depending on your role or personal strengths, these tasks can vary widely between what’s appropriate for each type of leader. To prioritize these tasks, leaders must first identify what is most important to their role and the business. They can use tools such as the Eisenhower Matrix or the 80/20 rule to determine which tasks are high-value and which are not.
Once they have identified their high-value tasks, world-class leaders ensure that they have enough time and resources to complete them. Attempting to take on too much without enough bandwidth is a recipe for disaster. In practice, this means delegating low-value tasks to team members or assistants, and focusing their own time on the tasks that truly matter.
Effective delegation is another critical skill that world-class leaders use to manage their time effectively. They understand that they cannot do everything themselves, and that their team members have valuable skills and expertise that can help them achieve their goals faster. Ideally, teammates with well-defined skills in these areas can execute upon these tasks in more comprehensive and efficient ways than the leader could anyways.
Leaders who delegate effectively provide clear instructions and expectations, and set their team members up for success. They also provide regular feedback to ensure that the delegated task is being completed to the desired standard. This approach not only frees up the leader’s time, but it also helps to develop the skills and capabilities of their team members. To quote an African proverb, “if you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Some examples of tasks that can be delegated include administrative tasks, scheduling meetings, or taking notes. By delegating these tasks, leaders can focus on high-value tasks and develop their skills in areas that truly matter. Increasingly, leaders now also have the option to delegate repetitive tasks to AI assistants like Xembly. Working in tandem with a fine-tuned AI partner in the right contexts can rapidly increase an individual’s productivity.
Time Blocking and Scheduling
Another key time management strategy that world-class leaders use is time blocking and scheduling. They understand the importance of being intentional with their time and creating a routine that works for them. This means blocking out specific times in their calendar for certain tasks or meetings, and creating a consistent daily routine.
As an example, Elon Musk is famous for blocking out his time to 5 minute increments. Lawyers are also notorious for charging by 6 minute increments of their time. For those of us who are less precise about how we spend each second, Xembly defaults to assisting users with scheduling 15 minute “Reminders” and 60 minute “Block Times” to take on their work days. These timeframes can of course be changed and specified to fit the needs of each task.
Leaders who use time blocking and scheduling effectively are able to stay focused on their high-value tasks and avoid distractions. They also set boundaries to ensure that they are not overworking themselves or neglecting other important areas of their life. Blocking time for work tasks can also be complemented by blocking time for breaks to ensure not only productivity but also general health and well-being throughout the work day.
For example, a leader might block out time in the morning for strategic planning, followed by blocking time for their lunch break, followed by a team meeting in the afternoon. They might also schedule time in their calendar for exercise or spending time with family, to ensure that they are taking care of themselves and their personal relationships.
Leaders who are intent on valuing their time might also consider turning off email or chat notifications. They might also set expectations with their team members or stakeholders, to ensure that they are not interrupting their work unnecessarily or having their own work interrupted.
At the same time, leaders must also communicate effectively with their team members and stakeholders. This means providing regular feedback, setting clear expectations, and being available to answer questions or provide guidance when needed.
In order to avoid distractions and have focused time for work, leaders will need to raise the bar and create a culture where responses to messages are anticipated in an appropriate manner that does not infringe on another person’s ability to get work done or have a generally healthy workday or weekend with boundaries.
Putting it all together, world-class leaders understand the importance of time management and prioritize their time accordingly. They prioritize high-value tasks, delegate effectively, use time blocking and scheduling, and avoid distractions. By using these strategies, they are able to take one each day with triumphant expectation of what can and cannot be accomplished. For help on putting this all into practice, be sure to check out Xembly and see what an AI assistant can do for you.