What Challenges Our Time

by ltconsulting on August 14, 2012

We provide training courses for managing stress, handling stress, reducing stress, in fact all work related stress issues.  Over the years we have trained thousands of people to enable them to recognise stress symptoms and causes and have given them stress management tips and techniques to enable them to identify the signs of stress and to beat and avoid it.  Our courses have a proven track record in stress reduction and managing stress at work.

How great management reduces Stress in the workplace

Until recently there was very little research evidence to clarify which manager behaviours are relevant in this context. Research by Emma Donaldson-Feilder and Rachel Lewis of Affinity Health at Work (funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)  suggests that line managers play a pivotal role in workplace stress management. This means that, for employers to reduce and manage workplace stress effectively, they need to ensure that managers demonstrate the skills and behaviours that allow them to manage their staff in ways that minimise work-related stress. Some of the results are shown below and we think it makes a good checklist for effective management. If you’re a manager use it to assess how well you manage the wellbeing of your team and generally as a stress checklist.

Proactive work management

ÿ     Communicates my job objectives to me clearly

ÿ     Develops action plans

ÿ     Monitors my workload on an on-going basis

ÿ     Encourages me to review how I organise my work

ÿ     When necessary, will stop additional work being passed on to me

ÿ     Works proactively

ÿ     Sees projects/tasks through to delivery

ÿ     Reviews processes to see if work can be improved

ÿ     Prioritises future workloads


ÿ     Is indecisive at decision-making

ÿ     Deals rationally with problems

ÿ     Follows up problems on my behalf

ÿ     Deals with problems as soon as they arise

Participative/ empowering

ÿ     Gives me the right level of job responsibility

ÿ     Correctly judges when to consult employees and when to make a decision

ÿ     Keeps me informed of what is happening in the organisation

ÿ     Acts as a mentor to me

ÿ     Delegates work equally across the team

ÿ     Helps me to develop in my role

ÿ     Encourages participation from the whole team

ÿ     Provides regular team meetings

Time Management Article – What Challenges Our Time

If we are to improve our time management we need to take a long hard look at what stops us from being effective and what we need to be aware of. The following is a list of classic ‘time stealers’ – the factors that get in the way of our effective use of time.

Below you will find some of the most frequent reasons for reduced effectiveness in the workplace. Place a tick by the ones which are causing to be the major obstacles to your own time management.

Action point – Identifying your time stealers

ÿ                 Interruptions – telephone conversations that go on without focus or control

ÿ                 Interruptions – personal visitors who feel that they can interrupt you for any reason they wish

ÿ                 You are easily distracted and side tracked by more enjoyable tasks

ÿ                 Meetings that are unfocussed and unorganised

ÿ                 Tasks that you do that should be delegated to others

ÿ                 Procrastinating and putting off more important tasks

ÿ                 Indecision – Not knowing what to do in a given time period

ÿ                 Managing tasks with incomplete information

ÿ                 Dealing with team members who do not complete their tasks

ÿ                 Crisis management (fire fighting)

ÿ                 Unclear communication – both verbal and written. No one knows who’s doing what and    when

ÿ                 Inadequate technical knowledge due to lack of training

ÿ                 Unclear objectives and priorities agreed between colleagues and/or management

ÿ                 Lack of planning – either short term or long term

ÿ                 Stress and fatigue

ÿ                 Trying to do too much yourself

ÿ                 Inability to say “No” to colleague’s requests

ÿ                 Desk management and personal disorganisation

ÿ                 Managing e-mails

Once you have ticked the items on the list that refer to you, ask yourself ‘How many of these do I have no control over?’. You may surprise yourself with the number of ticked items that you are able to control. When we say control, you may not be able to eliminate all of them instantly but are able to exert some influence over how often and how much time they contribute to your ineffectiveness.


Make a list of the top three time stealers you most wish to eliminate

1. …………………………………………………………………………………………

2. …………………………………………………………………………………………

3. ………………………..…………………………………..……………………………


Prioritising will be covered in more detail in Chapter 3 but let’s start with some tried and tested tips for you to think about when managing your time. We’ll concentrate on the ones relating to time management and give you some simple ideas to help you on your way. Most of these will be covered in more detail in the course.

1. Crisis Management: We all suffer from crises but are you the fire-fighter or arsonist! We may be great at sorting out crises but do we always get into crisis by not making plans for the future. Remember, for the same crisis; once is unfortunate; twice is a disaster but the third time is incompetence!!!! We haven’t learnt from previous mistakes.

  • Time Tip: After every crisis, meet with those involved and ask ‘How can we ensure this doesn’t happen again’. Set a reminder in your Outlook calendar to ensure you don’t forget and follow-up the lessons learnt.

2. Telephone interruptions: Still our greatest communication tool and still considered our greatest enemy at times. We feel awkward about closing phone calls because we may feel rude if we do. We also don’t ask enough questions when put on the spot by an instant telephone request.

  • Time Tip: Always ask ‘When’s the deadline for this task to be completed?’ on every request to determine how much ‘padding’ has been added to it. You can end your calls by saying ‘OK well I won’t take up any more of your valuable time’. You’ll be amazed how quickly and politely this ends most calls.

3. Unclear Objectives and Priorities: The University of Arkansas carried out research that there was a 25% difference between what managers thought staff should be prioritising and what staff thought were their priorities.

  • Outlook Time Tip: Ensure you have clear and agreed priorities between you and your boss that are reviewed daily or weekly. Ensure you have your key tasks and objectives written as tasks in Outlook so that you can update them when you speak to your boss or your team

4. Trying to do too much yourself: We sometimes feel a failure when we compare what little we’ve completed compared with our colleagues. We always seem to run out of time before we run out of tasks because we try to do it all without regard to its priority.

  • Outlook Time Tip: Break tasks into timed events so that you are clear how much you’ll be able to do in a day or a week. Colour code items in your Outlook Calendar so that you can complete them in a structured and orderly way.

5. Interruptions – personal: Drop-In Visitors will always come because of one simple reason. You allow them to. Many people are ambivalent towards this type of interruptions. That very ambivalence encourages the practice until it becomes a major drain on quality time.

  • Outlook Time Tip: Change your behaviour towards interrupters and gently rearrange their interruptions to another time more convenient to you. Your boss will understand if you can show him or her that your priorities will cost them more if left undone due to their interruptions.  Create an appointment in your Outlook Calendar for call backs and appointments with reminders for the important ones.

6. Ineffective Delegation: Coaching and good delegation are considered the main route to effective leadership – the wisest leaders choose this style of management above all others because it strengthens teams and builds confidence.

  • Time Tip: Ask yourself ‘Do I free up more time; have someone in my team who can do this quicker than me; better than me; who will enjoy doing it; or can do it cheaper than me.’ If the answer to any of these is yes, then you should delegate more. Creating a delegation in Tasks and then assigning them will allow you to delegate more and track their progress.

7. Desk management and personal disorganisation: Are you suffering from Desk Stress where you can’t see more than 5% of the material your desk is made of due to unnecessary clutter.  Research shows that there is about 36 hours of work on top of the average desk – this alone can be a real productivity stopper.

  • Time Tip: Clear your desk at the end of every day and ensure you have a weekly schedule for organising and de-cluttering your paperwork and filing systems.

8. Procrastination and indecision: Procrastination is putting off what you should be doing right now and is truly ‘the thief of time’. We run away from what is a priority and effectively waste time. People avoid making decisions for many reasons: the three principle ones are: avoidance, complacency and panic

  • Outlook Time Tip: Do your worst task at the start of the day. It gets it out of the way and stops you stressing over it. Also break long tasks into smaller segments – breaking your day-long project into 6 one-hour segments will ensure you know how you’re doing at the end of every hour. Doing this in Outlook Calendar will enable you to measure your progress during the day.

9. Inability to Say No: If you say ‘yes I will’ when you know you can’t you’ll be causing other people stress. People rely on your promises and people will accept your promise of delivery rather than an a.s.a.p. if you always meet your deadlines.

  • Outlook Time Tip: Instead of automatically saying ‘Yes’ to requests say ‘How and When’ you can deliver, say how you will deliver and when is realistic for both you and the other person. By having your daily tasks and priorities listed on your Outlook Calendar you can visually refer to your tasks and show the other person your commitments – this will help you to become more assertive and negotiate task completions more effectively.

10. Meetings: The average senior manager spends 17 hours per week in meetings, plus 6 hours a week getting ready for them, and even more hours recovering!

  • Outlook Time Tip: Always ensure your meetings have an agreed START and FINISH time. Cost out your meetings to ensure that they are worth having. Plan your meetings using the Meetings planner in Outlook ensuring you have meetings at the optimum time for all attendees.

11. Managing e-mails: Are you suffering from e-mailitis: a stressful inability to stop looking at and stressing over your e-mails every 5 minutes.

  • Outlook Time Tip: Here are three tips to make this e-mail relevant to you
  • Deal with your email at regular times during the day and not when you see it pop up.
  • Disable the pop-up notice on your e-mail so that it doesn’t continuously interrupt you
  • Create e-mail rules that balance your need for technology with face to face contact. Also develop e-mail guidelines for your team or department.

As you can see there are many ways in which we can start to manage our time more effectively but one of the factors which stops people attempting time management techniques is the thought that ‘These factors are out of my control. One way to start is to manage our thoughts and ‘self-talk’.

Why choose Total Success for your training?

  • our lead trainers have over 18 years experience in training
  • a maximum of 8 delegates means more time spent on individual needs
  • we guarantee to run the course and will never cancel at the last moment
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All open courses are trained in Central London at the St Giles Hotel.

Each delegate receives a comprehensive training workbook that doubles as an open course manual. Courses run from 9.30-5.30 with lunch and refreshments provided.

In-Company Courses

Total Success have developed a series of in-house training modules. These are designed so that an organisation can pick the training which is more applicable to its own needs and budget. Please call us to discuss your specific requirements.

Related information

Time Management

Stress Management

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