The ability to manage your time is a valued skill, but it’s is often easier said than done. Knowing how to prioritize important tasks and say no to things less worthy of our time is a skill many of us could strengthen. Otherwise, the consequences of over-booking or neglecting to prioritize can leave you feeling frazzled and burnt out. As a branch manager, you have the added responsibility of not only managing your own time and performance, but those of your team as well. Mastering your time management is not only key for you to be able to properly manage anyone else, but it also makes you a better example for your team. Read on for some of the best strategies for branch managers to start actively managing their time:
1. Set attainable expectations
Your first key to effective time management is to set realistic expectations. If you are trying to accomplish the impossible, you’ll wear yourself out over time. For example, in the effort to be extremely accessible, you might allow your employees and clients to reach you at any hour of the day. For a very small business, this might work. However, as your mortgage branch grows, this might prove to be less and less possible. You simply won’t be able to take every phone call or answer every single email right away without distracting from other tasks. Although this kind of availability is enticing to offer, it’s not usually a realistic expectation and can leave you burnt out. You want to be cautious about the expectations you set for yourself, and make sure that they’re practical and won’t leave you feeling overwhelmed.
2. Say “no” when necessary
If you’re a driven professional, committed to your team’s success and your clients’ happiness, “yes” is likely a top word in your vocabulary. While it’s great to be accomodating, you don’t want to run yourself dry. As you’re making your “to-do” list, try to restrict it to the most important items. This way, you’ll have a baseline for what needs your time that day, and you can gauge accordingly before taking on any more. It’s enticing to commit yourself to every possible task that comes your way, but as a manager, it’s also your job to delegate duties as necessary. Not only will this help you avoid micromanaging, but it will prevent you becoming overworked. When you overcommit, everyone suffers — your clients, your employees, and especially you.
3. Estimate allotted time
When you’ve decided on the tasks that you can realistically take on, try to outline how much time each will take. This will help when it comes to scheduling your time and making a plan. Estimate the time frames necessary to complete a task. If you estimate that something will take 20 minutes, plan for 30 minutes to keep your day flowing smoothly. These time frames help you set expectations and boundaries and allow you to plan out your daily, weekly, and monthly schedule. They can also be helpful because you may find yourself with a free block of time and can figure out at a glance if you have the time to complete an additional task.
4. Schedule communication hours
Instead of picking up the phone or answering emails at all hours of the day when you’re likely in the middle of important tasks, you can be more efficient by giving people specific hours you’re available for phone or email. This kind of boundary may seem counterintuitive to providing good customer service, but it actually ensures you’re giving each task, phone call, or email your undivided attention. It ensures that the task you’re working on is done more thoroughly and productively, and it ensures that a client gets your full attention on the phone. Set windows for answering calls and emails. This trains those you interact with, especially your clients and team members, not to expect your immediate response all day, and it makes them more self-sufficient. It still allows you to deliver a relatively speedy response, depending on the windows you set, but it keeps your work from suffering from constant distraction.
5. Set a daily plan
If you’re incorporating these strategies, it will be easy to make a plan for your day. Having a firm plan for each day and breaking your tasks into the time segments you estimated can keep you more accountable for how you spend your time. Write down your tasks in a planner or use an app to keep you on track. At the end of your day, plan out the following day and set your expectations for how you’d like it to go.
Time management is a skill that directly contributes to your success as a manager and thus the success of your team as a whole. By setting realistic expectations, not taking on more than is practical, and being proactive with how you plan and schedule your time, you can work more efficiently and be a more effective manager. By incorporating these tips, you can take an active role in managing your time so that your time doesn’t manage you.