4 tips for managing your daily business tasks
As a busy manager, getting everything that needs doing accomplished in a day can seem like trying to push water uphill. There's always another phone message to return or email that needs an urgent response.
Making a conscious effort to manage your daily business tasks and give them some order will help you get more done.
If you want to see your to-do list completed at the end of the day, what are some things you can do to get your tasks completed? Here are four tips for doing just that:
1. Make a list and prioritize it
It sounds simple, but making a list is an important start! You can use task management software, email yourself, or simply crack out some pen and paper. Write down what you absolutely must get done today so you can plan your day and workflow around it.
Making a list is just the start, however; you'll also need to prioritize it.
Don't make the common mistake of starting your day with the easiest tasks. The harder tasks won't get any easier as the day goes by, and you'll get more tired and less able to tackle them.
Start your day with the big, important tasks, and leave the smaller ones for later.
2. Cut back on meetings
As the article 7 tips for busy managers says, it can seem like the bulk of your job is attending meetings.
Meetings can quickly suck up your time and energy, leaving you feeling like you've been very busy but not accomplished as much as you wanted to. Some meetings are necessary, but think carefully about which ones. Could some be replaced with a quick email or face-to-face chat? Could some be held less frequently?
Set aside a specific time for necessary meetings.
For example, choose one morning a week and try to schedule necessary meetings together then. Meetings grouped together this way will eat into your time much less than meetings scattered throughout the week.
3. Set aside time for emails and phone calls
The email notification sound can be a manager's worst enemy.
Constantly stopping work to read emails or return phone calls quickly chips away at your time. Before you know it, the day is over and you've done a lot of "busy work" but not much real work.
Instead, try allotting a time to deal with email and phone calls. If you're worried about missing something important, you can schedule more than one "communications" session throughout the day - but do stick to those times.
4. Embrace delegation
Delegation is part of the remit of a manager, yet many managers fail to delegate, or don't delegate as much as they could.
Delegation is vital if you want to free up some time to focus on important tasks: The trick to making delegation work for you is to do so intelligently, and to ensure your staff has what they need to carry out their delegated tasks.
When choosing tasks to delegate, start with those you know are your weaknesses. By handing those tasks to employees who are stronger in them than you, you'll save yourself both time and stress.
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Be honest about your strengths and the strengths of your team, to help you decide which tasks should be passed on, and to whom.
Delegation will be a lot smoother if you put in the time to make sure your staff has the skills and knowledge they need to carry out the tasks you give them. Some training now can save a lot of time spent re-iterating instructions later.
Appointing a responsible employee that staff can turn to with questions will minimize interruptions once a task is delegated.
Bottom line: Being a manager is a balancing act. By taking conscious charge of your time and tasks you can enjoy more productive days and more time spent on the tasks that really matter.
About the Author: Tristan Anwyn is an author who writes on a range of topics including social media, SEO that works, and how to manage your time effectively.
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Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.