Taking time to assess strategies

By Tom Dowd | May 28, 2016

There was a peer of mine whom I would often call and have to leave messages. She would never return my calls. As soon as I sent her an instant message, she was prompt with her communication and we were always able to get things done. By tailoring our communication styles to her preferences, we were both more efficient. Who you’re communicating with, what you’re communicating, and how you’re communicating it will positively or negatively impact your time. Confidence, influencing others, persuasion skills, setting clear expectations, being clear and concise—all are tied to effective communication and time management. All are a must when it comes to being productive, not to mention building stronger relationships.

If you sit in meetings that have consistently been a waste of time, are you confident enough to offer solutions to make them more effective, or strong enough to say they should be held less frequently, or even stopped altogether? Whether it is speaking up during the meeting or after it to let the host know, communication does drive time management.

How effective are your listening skills? Are you truly paying attention and listening to people? Think back to the number of times when questions had to unnecessarily be addressed again because one person wasn’t listening? Listening is another key component of communication and, again, time management.

I can’t state it enough: communication is an extremely important facet of effective time management. Assess your communication strategies, then go out and commit to and share best practices around communication and time management. Take time to:

• Understand communication preferences for those you work with the most. If you don’t know, then ask.

• Use the right channel based on priority. Is an email and instant message (IM) the right channel based on the urgency or expected actions? Don’t send an email to deal with fire drills needing immediate attention—you can’t expect everyone to be on email at all times of the day. You might send an instant message to get someone’s attention, but you want to avoid ping-ponging the message back and forth when details can be discussed quickly on the phone.

• Be conscientious of the audience when sending emails. Give summaries and highpoints, if necessary, and details to only those who really need them. It saves you time in writing and other people’s time in reading. Also, be concise by not writing the email version of War and Peace to ask a simple question.

• Know who needs and wants to know. Don’t reply to everyone on the email distribution (reply all) unless it is truly needed and impacts all—it cuts down on potential unnecessary email return responses.

Communication plays an important role when establishing priorities and making all of us conscientious about being productive and not wasting time. Looking at how you’ve chosen to communicate in the past and establishing new reliable strategies will enhance your efficiency.

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