Timely tips save effort

April 14, 2013

Q I’ve just been promoted to the C-Suite and the time demands are daunting. I am an effective time manager but I can’t stay on top of all the additional requirements of the role. What more can I do?

A Protect your most productive hours of the day to do your big picture strategizing and reflective thinking. Since 20 per cent of your efforts produce 80 per cent of your results, prioritize your tasks and stick to it. Delegate the rest. This is more effective than doing it all. Studies show that a 60-hour work week decreases productivity by 25 per cent and gets worse as the work hours increase.

Executives waste almost a day a week in meetings. Consider limiting meetings to between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Keep them on track by sticking to a clear agenda, beginning and ending on time with specific actions for each individual, following up on their accountabilities at the next meeting.

Email is often the biggest distraction. It helps to check email only at specific times of the day and to give your people guidelines on what you want to be copied. Have someone pre-screen and file items for you. Take the time to clear your inbox weekly. Additionally, the average leader is interrupted every three minutes – that is two hours a day. Instead of inviting intruders with: “How can I help” narrow their access by asking: “What do you need from me for you to accomplish this?”

Forget multi-tasking altogether. it takes 20-40 per cent more time to finish items when you multi task compared with completing the same tasks in sequence. Time lost switching among tasks increases with the complexity of the tasks diminishing productivity and quality.

Stay focused on holding the strategic vision, holding others accountable for operational details and keeping both in alignment.

Originally printed in The Province, April 14, 2013.

Lower sights to return to office

August 24, 2008

Q: I’ve been self-employed for the last 10 years. I’m 55 and I miss working in a traditional business environment and I want to return to the office setting again. Where should I start?

A: After 10 years of self-employment, switching gears may test your resolve. The scope of activities in an organization is typically more limited than in your own business. List your top priorities for returning to work as well as the tasks you are most passionate about doing. Focus on roles that satisfy both.

Next, take stock of where you excel and the results generated during self-employment. Highlight three to five of your biggest successes in your resumé, outlining briefly what it took to accomplish these results. This demonstrates your distinctive brand of creativity, initiative and perseverance for a prospective employer to envision how your skills align with the organization.

Now it’s time to check out the market. Just like starting out in your own business, look for allies who will promote you in new arenas. Contact businesses that link closely to where your unique skills and experience would be most appreciated. Conduct informational interviews with individuals whose job interests you for an inside glimpse without the pressure of a job interview. Scrutinize the daily role. If it seems like a promising fit, request a job interview.

Once there, carve out a role for yourself. Present how your specific combination of skills would benefit the organization — companies do create jobs for an ideal candidate, but it may require patience. 

Finally, don’t be offended if you are temporarily offered a slightly lower position than you expect. If it puts you on a direct path to the role you want, it may be beneficial as you acclimatize to the company. From the inside, it’s easier to design your next move.

Originally printed in The Province on August 24, 2008