4 Checklists to Help Any Executive Take Control of Their Schedule

time management executive

You’re a busy executive. A visionary. A decision-maker. At any given moment there are dozens of things on your plate.

And today’s 24/7 business environment is just adding more pressure.

You might feel a need to reassure yourself that you’re remaining focused. Responding to the needs of your team. Delegating when appropriate. And becoming less reactionary. At some level you know the better you become at managing your time, the better able you are to assure execution of those things that are important – or critical – to the growth and well-being of your organization, your team, and yourself.

Productivity and performance consultants are known for being able to provide lists of hacks, processes, guidelines, etc. But I want to share different types of checklists with you. They’re based on a bigger picture that has more to do with preparing yourself than taking ‘action’ steps. In fact, they’re about laying the groundwork so your action steps yield the outcomes you’re after.

1 – The Reality Checklist

Time management is a misnomer. But you already know that. It’s not really about managing time at all. How could it be? We all have only 24 hours in a day…not a minute more or less. It’s really about how we choose to manage yourself during those 24 hours.

The principles of time management include learning to successfully set and accomplish goals, identify and manage priorities, and schedule and plan activities to help you execute. But there are plenty of things that get in the way of getting to these. They include interruptions, distractions, over-commitments, procrastination, disorganization, poor or ineffective communications and micromanaging.

But as a leader, you’re also a role model. Others study your actions. Your staff or team is watching and wondering how they can be just like you…or nothing like you…as they watch you manage yourself and your time. So it might be helpful to run through a reality check with yourself for yourself. Then make choices about what you want to do next.

Also read: 5 Ways You Can Influence Positive Change at Work and in Life

Reality Checklist Questions:

  • Do you want or need to be a better manager of your time?
  • How would you rank yourself on how effective of a time manager you are? (In this case you can ask yourself, but you could also ask others.)
  • What are you currently doing that you should stop doing?

2 – The Skills Improvement Checklist

Contrary to popular belief, we aren’t genetically pre-disposed to being organized or great managers of our time. These are learned skills.

Some are fortunate enough to have had great role models. Others had poor role models, no role models, missed the Time Management 101 class, can’t seem to apply what was learned previously or haven’t applied what was learned because ________ (fill in the blank).

If you want to improve your time management and productivity skills, there are plenty of avenues of help available. You might start with a personal SWOT analysis – assessing your personal strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This helps you congratulate yourself for a job well done and then narrow down the areas in which you may need some help. And that help can come in the form of books, videos, online classes, coaches, etc. Then you can make choices about what comes next.

Skills Improvement Checklist:

  • What is your goal for this specific skill?
  • Do you have the information you need to work on it? If not, do you know where you can get the information?
  • Have you identified people who can help and support you through this type of growth/change?

Also read: 7 Easy to Pick Up Skills All Great Leaders Have

3 – The Change Checklist

Are you realistic about your role and what you can accomplish during your finite waking hours? Do you feel you need to be everything to everybody? What happens to your time then? And what happens to the time of others?

Daniel Goleman coined the phrase ‘emotional intelligence’ and spawned a revolution. Few of us deny the value of his findings, but emotional intelligence requires making different choices. Choices that support the type of change you see and want and need in the role you occupy. It’s not about being less compassionate with others. It’s about being more compassionate towards yourself and making better choices. The opportunity…and the challenge…is to make better choices each and every day.

Also read: Why EQ is Just as Important as IQ for Strategy Leaders

It begins with a single thought which is frequently affected by a belief and attitude. It sounds like…

I know I should do this but I really don’t have time and it’s not that important anyway.

Once that happens an emotion usually shows up. It sounds like…

I really have some concerns about whether or not this report is good enough to send out.

Then you can make a choice about what comes next which leads to an action and a result. It sounds like…

Well, this was probably a bad idea to begin with so I’ll put it on the back burner.

What can you do? Begin with a checklist.

4 – Change Checklist

  • What are the current underlying beliefs and attitudes connected to your choices?
  • Are these choices supporting or sabotaging your efforts for a more productive you?
  • How can you approach it differently?

This non-traditional type of checklist is mean to help you s-t-r-e-t-c-h your thoughts about what you can do to experience your 24 hours a day with less stress and improved outcomes. If this is really what you want, are you ready to do take the first step?

About the Author

Cynthia Kyriazis, Founder and President of Productivity Partners Inc., has provided productivity training and coaching for Fortune 500 to small business clients for over 20 years. Recently named one of “28 best online productivity experts”, her passion is teaching employees how to apply the principles of organization and time-management and to help them navigate the 24/7 demands on their time. Cynthia is set to release her second book in February 2016, Get Organized. Get Focused. Get Moving.: How to Avoid Productivity Potholes, a guide for helping business professionals avert common obstacles to productivity.