5 Steps for Better Time Management

By Robert Half February 18, 2014 at 8:00am

“No time – there’s never any time!” Although these words were belted by Saved by the Bell’s Jesse Spano, they could as easily be a concern of many a financial executive.

In a Robert Half Management Resources survey, chief financial officers most commonly cited technology tools and delegating responsibilities as their most effective resources for managing their time at work. While these were the top two responses, one in five CFOs said they spend less time in meetings.

Like many accounting and finance executives, you are likely using technology as a major part of your time-management toolbox, whether personally with mobile devices and apps or across an entire department leveraging new automation, cloud or ERP systems. However, delegating may not be a natural skill for everyone. Done well, though, effectively assigning duties not only helps you better manage your time, but it has the added benefit of allowing you to build your team’s skills.

Following are five steps executives can take to better manage their time.

  1. Conduct a time audit. Log your activities for every day over the course of a week, and categorize each item. When reviewing the information, look for patterns, and check to see if the areas of greatest priority are receiving the greatest attention and where improvements can be made.
  2. Build a talented staff. Do you know who your go-to people are when you need a favor or have an unmanageable workload? Having the right staff in place and continuing to focus on their development can ensure quality isn’t compromised and projects stay on task when you need to move something off your plate.
  3. Plan for succession. If there isn’t anyone who can step in to fill your shoes, even temporarily, you may have a problem. Don’t be afraid to test the waters for high-potential leaders within the company – who may need room to make mistakes and coaching before they succeed. In the process, you’ll identify who you can delegate prioritized projects to without losing sleep.
  4. Stay current on time-saving technology. As advanced as financial apps and software have become, however, technology can’t do everything. Assess what works and doesn’t to save money and minutes.
  5. Stop the meeting madness. In addition to looking for meetings to cut, see if there are gatherings that can be shorter. Even if it’s shifting an hour-long discussion to 45 minutes, every little bit helps. You can reinforce the tighter schedule – and urgency of staying on track – by scheduling meetings in 15-minute intervals instead of 30 minutes.

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