Flex Those Time Management and Delegation Muscles

You’re conscientious, talented and a wizard at time management and delegation. Lately, however, your efficiency levels are slipping. Your team struggles to complete the most routine tasks and there’s no end in sight to your to-do list. Last-minute requests from your boss are gobbling up your workday.

You’re not alone. More than one-third of chief financial officers interviewed in a Robert Half survey cited time management due to competing priorities as their biggest work challenge.

In this installment of Monday Management Minute, we’ll look at simple ways to avoid taking on extra tasks in the office that won’t make you unpopular with your superiors and will bolster your time-management and delegation skills. 

Consider practicalities

Saying “yes” all the time is both impossible and impractical. Today’s accounting and finance professionals are often stretched thin and are prone to the effects of stress. Before agreeing to anything, be judicious in considering how the request will affect your staff — and you. Also, contemplate whether agreeing to do something will run counter to company policies, workplace regulations or other rules.

Examine the situation

Is your boss truly in a bind? If so, refusing to help will just make you look bad. But you don’t want to be known as the office pushover, who constantly bails out everyone else. One way to avoid last-minute scrambles is to engage your boss in regular communication. Ask how things are going on a frequent basis. Time management and delegation don’t work in retrospect. Plan ahead in order to thwart a last-minute crisis that keeps your whole team stuck working late at the office.

Delegate, delegate, don’t delegate

If you aren’t a master of delegation, you’re not putting your management credentials into everyday practice. In a crisis, good managers know where to turn for expert assistance. Ideally, you won’t be relying on the same person all the time. After all, everyone has a different set of talents and personality traits to contribute. A wise manager also knows when not to delegate certain assignments, especially those requiring managerial approval or senior-level expertise.

Negotiate tactfully and politely

Never flatly refuse to do anything. If an assignment comes with a deadline that seems impossible to meet, present a completion date you feel is more realistic. The boss might decide to accept your proposed deadline or give the project to someone else. There are also tactful ways to provide solutions that might remove you from the equation entirely, such as praising the expertise, knowledge or efficiency of a coworker you believe may be better suited to the project.

Curtail meetings

Trimming the number and the length of staff meetings is one of the best time management strategies you can adopt. It will put you and your staff in a better position to handle unexpected work requests. Shorter — and fewer — meetings are likely to be quite popular with your staff, fellow managers, those from other departments and, yes, even with your boss.

If you find yourself suddenly overwhelmed with work, it’s time to reconsider your delegation and time management techniques. For the benefit of your team, don’t immediately say “yes” when the request comes in, but rather negotiate more favorable terms. If you take on extra tasks, be sure to delegate equally and try to limit the number of meetings you call. 

What tips and tricks do you have for time management and delegation? Share your thoughts in the comments.