Five insihgts

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 February, 2006, 12:00am

1 Not everything is urgent

Most managers would admit that a lot of their time is taken up by work that may be classified as urgent but is certainly not very important. Yet they fall into the trap of equating being busy with being important, and follow priorities set by others. It may be better to prioritise work, and assess disruptive requests to fight fires and attend meetings on their real merits.

2 Cut down multitasking

Multitasking is not always desirable. In fact, studies show that jumping between tasks can lessen productivity instead of enhancing it. The human brain has to warm up again when refocusing on the original task. It is more effective to focus on key activities in succession. Although we may never completely escape the need to juggle different balls, this should be seen as a necessary evil - not as the managerial ideal.

3 Meeting-free days

Declare certain days of a week or periods of each day off limits for meetings. This is recommended as an antidote to the phenomenon of 'meeting creep' seen in many organisations - that is, bringing people together before any decision is made. The overall advice is to use meetings sparingly, avoid calling them whenever possible and to manage them well. Some companies have introduced short stand-up meetings to keep participants sharper.

4 Do not neglect the essentials

When deadlines loom or the pressures of time increase, we often abandon activities that help us to reduce stress and maximise productivity. Rather than letting us achieve more, not making time for leisure activities can lead to a downward spiral. Therefore, every manager's routine should include designated time for exercise and sufficient sleep.

5 Take note of your body clock

You may be a morning person or may function better at another time of the day. Use this knowledge to improve your effectiveness. Do not waste your most productive time going through e-mail or checking expense reports. Instead, listen to your rhythms and use your prime time to handle jobs that require the most concentration or creative thinking from you.