Category Archives: Time management

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Async Communication

The topic of asynchronous communication has gained great momentum through the pandemic. The office settings did not help us acknowledge the amount of time we spent in meetings , but through remote working it has become surfaced as a dominant pain that we are in meetings all the time! Terms like focus time , personal hour etc. have gained traction and everybody is trying to find space between blurry lines of work and home. It seems to be a never ending battle.

Personally for me I have not been able to realize the significance of focus time , as for decades we operated with out , going around doing our job. I think that we have a set of things to do , run and drive outcomes and most of the job profiles will not allow for the concepts of focus time to be successful although analytics and software implements will make a recommendation for same. It also confuses other people who want to work , discuss and brainstorm , whether I should reach out or not!

For me following strategy works best

  • Being an early riser , I tend to read and clear my Inbox before starting my regular days
  • Use the concept of urgent and important to determine how to create short term focus [ needs to answered within a day ] versus [ week ] or [ month ] . Beyond that it does not require attention now
  • I try to gamify time management and use asynchronous methods of guiding through my workloads by keeping lean focus area list , leverage negotiation and delegation to increase greater span of work and rest goes to backlog
  • Write first culture is important to drive thought process and discussion. Without writing we can never move forward and will always rely on verbal communication which is meeting
  • Using tools effectively to drive To-Do lists and putting specific blocks on calendar to carry out desired tasks.
  • Maintain to-do list at personal level , group level and 1-1 level to drive agenda at different velocity and focus
  • Create focused chat groups for short term goals and encourage no-meetings but asynchronous communication
  • I re-purpose meeting to cover additional agenda and avoid another meeting
  • Strengthen decision making . It seems that we try to be risk averse and find more people to help take decision because we are either not breaking the problem to manageable levels or are too weary to take a call and move forward.

Above are some of practical everyday ways of managing . Having said that there is no perfect answer and you would still have bad days. In order to focus continue to keep this problem at the core of efficient working so that everybody is reminded not to be pulled into a meeting without a purpose and if pulled should have exit path with some action items [ of which one should be not to have another meeting ]

Good Reads

Power of Letting Go & Leadership

Through second half of 2019 , I experienced lot of open ends around me. It was related to everything from not feeling well , to meeting deadlines & managing expectations. I had started to miss my runs and schedule. I was beginning to stress over all & how things were going to unfold.

Realization : It was time to retrospect!

I am still in early phases of this , but I wanted to share one of the dimensions that I am trying to put in place related to power in letting go ! I realized that balancing aspiration , controlling all tiny details and continuously structuring was leading to what I call over-indexing!  From what I have read and observed , continuity can only be maintained if we focus on what we are doing and when our part is done then shift it into background and / or move on to something else.

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Photo by Ankush Minda on Unsplash

As leaders you might be thinking about tomorrow or yesterday as it pertains to the topic at hand but as you do so , keep following things in mind:

Having a Clear Goal

Be clear of the goal you are trying to reach and differentiate between what “snaps-you” versus what is the actual “pain”. Having that in mind allows one to goo little deep in defining goals and objectives that are more sustainable and avoids us to slip in chaos. This way you may be able to iterate for longer duration.

If this is not the case it will lead to many starts & stops thus creating higher involvement towards delivering purpose.

Operating Boundaries

For you as a leader to operate with more bandwidth given multi-tasking is necessary evil , setting operating boundaries and see that the network effect takes care to connect you to the goals with others around you. We talk about connected world but then suffer to operate with our personal baselines in attempt to move faster. Establish accountability & coach people to exercise their judgement.

Do not benchmark everything centered around yourself as leader. You will never be able to let go if that remains the case. 

Informal & short-run feedback

Improve your ability to give feedback to your network so that it improves its efficiency to collaborate & deliver results. Over sustained period of time feedback loops activate creativity at problem solving and thus aid towards a broader balancing act in the system.

As a person , you need to trust the network or else you would not get into cadence of letting go.

Coach To Lead

If by any stretch one deems himself to be in leadership position , the onus to find and groom people to lead is very pertinent. This is not very easy and will not come fast. It is time taking & involving exercise. If the network around you has to respond to future then we need more from within to lead and carry the weight.

It is matter of time , when you as a leader will start feeling the pain of not having focused on this , thus creating a pull back effect – an impediment towards our desire to let go.

Hope this helps current and future leaders to create a healthy balance that helps to practice the power of letting go . I am personally trying to put these in action as I realize life is a marathon and not 100-meters dash!

When daily tasks become milestones…

I have been away from my blog for too long. Not a good sign considering time management is very important to me and try to live by it!! I am trying to reboot myself and again attempting to find time to develop my passion for writing on what I observe in my perosnal as well professional life.

Anyway , coming back to my comeback post .. which should have been a daily writing task has ended being a milestone !(see I already labelled it as “comeback”  post).

Very often in our professional life we quickly slip into mode of achieving things that are regular in nature and could have been taken care through timely checks , follow up , keeping tab on progress or by giving it equal importance as other big tickets things on our todo list. If this happens very regularly , then we can fall into trap of under achievement thinking that we accomplished alot because we are putting more effort giving us perception that we are working hard towards our goal but reality is that we are playing catch-up game and are still far from our real milestones.

Those who would have attended b-school might find this easy to relate , because this happens everytime when you work on assignments.  Although it would have been defined weeks back in time , we postpone it stating it is going to take ‘x’hours & we still have time. Then comes the real milestone date which pushes you to start doing your daily tasks , only to realise that there was more details to the devil than perceived!!

But why worry about this aspect… why am I being so picky..when ultimately the job is done?

It is hard to quantify this aspect but couple of points are worth considering….

1. Quality may get impacted
2. Finer details are ignored because you never got an opportunity to reach that point
3. We don’t achieve much beyond the actual milestone

Managers should have eye for such whirlpools and make effort to avoid them. They should also educate their subordinates as well peers to differentiate between daily tasks versus milestone. Having this approach does not mean that you are not appreciative about the hardwork people put but being judicious in appreciating the real achievement versus patting back for a task that could have been regular under the radar activity if one would timed it and made constant progress as opposed to it gaining sudden importance due to visible hardwork!!