Time - we never have enough!

The Islander – July 2021

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Doing the right thing is more important than doing things right.....

Time is a unique resource, we all have the same amount, but we cannot store it or save it up. It is easily wasted, and if we do waste some time, we cannot purchase more - at any price. The effectiveness of a leader will often depend on the use of their time, and the way in which they manage the time of their crew. Time is another budget item which ideally you plan how you will spend it. Time budgets have no credit notes or overspend. Once spent (or wasted), it’s spent.

According to John Adair (Effective Time Management), in virtually every leadership or management situation there are three areas that you need to divide your time between:

  • The needs of the task
  • The needs of the team
  • The needs of the individuals

Often these needs are in conflict.  The temptation is to let the short term needs of one element (typically task) overshadow the others.  In turn this can produce a backlash, which disrupts all three areas – such as a small crew dispute that has not been dealt with, turning into a resignation.

The effective manager keeps the three areas in mind at all times, especially when planning and organising their time. It is all too easy to allow the demands of your tasks to take you away from the needs of your crew. If you don’t spend time developing others, you won’t be able to delegate to them when your time is short. All too often we see senior crew starting and finishing their days earlier and later, when there are more junior crew crying out to be given something new or challenging to do. Whether the leader does this out of a need to retain control or of fear that the junior may take their job, either way it is an imploding situation which will result in the leader burning out, the junior leaving because they are no longer motivated in their role, or both.

According to management expert Peter Drucker (The Effective Executive) doing the right thing is more important than doing things right.  Doing the right thing is effectiveness, doing things right is efficiency.  Focus first on effectiveness (identifying what is the right thing to do) then concentrate on the efficiency (doing it right).


The effective approach involves reviewing what has to be done and then being selective about what you do. Some approaches that people find useful include:-


  • Having a priority system that works for you
  • Listing what needs to be done in a systematic way
  • Allocating time slots to get things done – start and finish
  • Accepting that you cannot do everything yourself
  • Having to say “no” to some tasks or requests
  • Realising that some (trivial) things may well have to be left
  • Allocating time for the unexpected – let’s face it they happen every day!


Emails are a great communication channel, but with them comes the additional demands on your time of monitoring and managing them.  In spite of their time saving qualities, we need to be careful that email itself does not become a time waster.


Just how many emails do you receive that are of little or no value? How many circulation lists are you on that are of no interest to you.


Email has the ability to create a sense of urgency, but most are not urgent at all, and if you are not careful it is easy to spend your time continuously monitoring your inbox, or being distracted as a new email ‘pings’ in. One option is to allocate specific times in the day to check your messages, ensuring that you have time to deal with them there and then.  Work through your emails methodically, where possible deal with each e-mail there and then, either:


  • Delete it
  • Respond to it (if you can do it within 10 minutes, or if it’s urgent)
  • Delegate it
  • Action it to your day / week planner (if it’s going to take more than 10 minutes)
  • File it


Don’t forget the importance of spending time with your crew, even if it is just to catch them doing something great so that you can praise them and in turn motivate them. At the end of the day, if you are managing more than one person, between them they should be doing more work than you – but that will only happen if they are motivated, engaged and challenged – and that’s your responsibility!


Impact Crew’s experienced team of highly professional consultants are on hand to support you as you progress on your leadership journey. Developing your effectiveness and efficiencies means forming new habits. Contact us now to find out how one of our highly experienced consultants can support you to create great leadership habits.