On February 23, I hosted the latest meeting of the Aite-Novarica Women’s Network on Taking Back Control of Your Time. Panelists Nancy Casbarro, Senior Principal at Aite-Novarica; Carey Geaglone, Senior Principal at Aite-Novarica; and Sue Haney, AVP at Amica, shared their tactics for maximizing productivity.
We kicked off the meeting with a discussion of time management systems. Using one or more time management systems, such as Franklin Covey or Pomodoro, can help you stay focused on high-priority tasks where you deliver unique value. The Franklin Covey system was life-changing for me during the early years of my career, and I still use the principles of list management and prioritization every day.
We then discussed the sage advice offered by Greg McCowan in his bestseller “Essentialism”: understand that it’s okay to say no; schedule time each day to think, analyze, and plan; and do the hardest task first each day.
We wrapped up the presentation portion of the meeting with a few tips and tricks on meeting and email management to optimize the time you spend on each.
Keep Work and Home Separate… But Not Too Separate
Though panelists emphasized the importance of not letting work and family time spill over into each other, practical time management involves some convergence between work and home schedules. One panelist shared that she keeps separate paper to-do lists for work and home, but often puts personal appointments on her work calendar to remind her of “hard stop” times and help avoid the temptation to work later into the evening.
Another panelist shared that one technique you can use to avoid constantly checking emails at home and increase your focus in the workplace is a “VIP list.” Create a list of 5-6 people whose communications you’ll want to know about immediately and toggle your smartphone’s settings so that only their notifications will pop up straightaway. You can check other emails and texts as you have time, comfortable in the knowledge that a message from your daughter, spouse, or boss won’t be silenced.
Learn to Let Go by Trusting Others
At some point, many women will find that there is simply not enough time in the day to balance everything they need to do. Some women get used to just doing everything themselves. One of our panelists shared a story about noticing she was always the family reunion planner despite having the busiest career among her six siblings. When she shared this observation with her mother, her mother reminded her of the maxim, “If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person.” If you’re swamped by excess responsibilities, evaluate whether a task is a good use of your time specifically, or whether it can be delegated to your colleague, babysitter, or family member.
Especially if you’re in a senior role, there are likely smart and capable people in your workplace who are searching for opportunities you have the power to provide. Make it a win-win situation by entrusting them with a task you typically do yourself. You may have to invest more time helping them to begin with, but in the long run you can save a lot of time while simultaneously cultivating work relationships.
Maintaining Control When Things Don’t Go as Planned
No matter how good you are at time management, sometimes unexpected events will crop up; it’s impossible to exert complete control over your day. Overmanaging your schedule can be problematic, too—causing undue stress with micromanagement. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t follow your system perfectly due to dealing with something unforeseen. If you’ve prioritized thoughtfully and effectively, even if there hasn’t been enough time to get everything done, ultimately you can feel good about having done the best you can.
During the meeting, we reviewed the information gathered from the pre-meeting survey. From this we were able to see that many of us have challenges and frustrations with getting the most out of our time. But several Network members found that applying some of these best practices and staying focused on what we do well really can help us be most effective and impactful to everyone.
The next Virtual Meeting of the Aite-Novarica Women’s Network will take place on March 30, 2022 on the topic of “Talent Strategies for the Evolving World.” Speakers will include Aite-Novarica Senior Principal Carey Geaglone. More information is available at https://aite-novarica.com/womens-network.