If you examine most of the time management tips out there, they focus on your personal productivity. Stuff like how you manage your time or meetings. They look at your inventory of work and help you determine what you should do next. That’s fine as far as it goes; you will get improvements in your work using these tips.
But time management tips like these are a sideshow. They distract you from the biggest productivity improvement you can get at work.
Here it is: understand your manager.
Sounds easy; it is not. Every manager is different with different needs. Some needs are obvious like “increase sales 5%.”
But other needs are not so obvious. For example, I had a manager who’s work style was almost stream of consciousness — there was no apparent organizational structure around how work was assigned and what the priority was that half hour. It was apparent to my manager, of course, but tough to figure out. I ended up leaving three hours a day free just to handle the constant interruptions, changing directions and followthrough needed for the work I was doing. It took a while to get used to. When my manager changed, I couldn’t figure out how I had so much free time all of a sudden until I remembered this is what I did.
Other managers have different needs. Micro-managing. Hands off managing. Needing to guide the entirety of your presentation. Three days of practicing for the meeting with a customer. Since managers are people, all have different, individual ways of working.
In order to get control of your time, you must understand how your manager does work. Then fit that style with your own so you produce work that accomplishes what you manager needs done.
Understanding your manager takes reflection time. Make sure your time management methodology includes understanding how your manager does work.
What’s the biggest time management change you’ve made to accommodate a manager?
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