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'No time' is an excuse -- do something about it

When you say, "I don't have time, so I wasn't able to do this and that…", you might expect others to feel empathy with you. In fact, most people perceive your response as an excuse and not the real cause.

We all have 24 hours per day. When you say "no time", others believe you didn't attach enough value to the task at hand. You chose to do something else that you valued more.

"No time" is an excuse, an expression of immaturity. Don't say it. What you can do is apologise for not doing something and then talk about what you plan to do about it.

Great leaders share some common time management practices:

1. They set priorities.

2. They delegate well.

3. They're willing to modify work processes or restructure as needed.

4. They're willing to reallocate resources.

5. They don't micromanage.

6. They stop doing some things they enjoy if they take time away from critical work.

7. They know how much participation in decisions is enough.

1. Setting priorities: Great leaders set priorities based on vision, mission values, strategy and stakeholders' interests. Hence, they will consider all the key factors before making a decision on the priority. The key is making the decision. This requires leadership judgement.

Great leaders are aware that they can't make everyone happy. They have to satisfy the key stakeholders while some others might not be happy. They have to have strong integrity to make a tough call. Average leaders try to accommodate all parties all the time. Hence, they choose to procrastinate instead of making decisions based on priorities. The longer you procrastinate, the harder it is to set the priority.

2. Good delegation: Delegating is not the same as "passing the buck". Great leaders know about the strengths of their team members. Hence, they delegate tasks based on strengths. However, each person has a preferred style when accepting delegation, and the leader has to learn each individual preferred style and motivation. Caution: Over-delegation to anyone might be perceived as unfair treatment even if the person is a talent.

3. Modifying work processes or restructuring: When work is getting done too slowly because of faulty internal processes or an inefficient organisational structure, great leaders ask the people in charge for explanations. You might find out that there are too many steps and that some could be eliminated or modified in order to shorten the timeline. This applies to the organisational structure as well. During a business slowdown, a review of processes and structures is strongly recommended.

4. Reallocate resources: Some executives have to spend too much time on certain tasks because of insufficient resources; machine, people or system. Great leaders have the courage to change those resources that are not sufficient to deal with the current environment.

5. Stop being a micromanager: Micromanaging is a sign of a leader who wants to control every aspect of management. Many leaders believe their subordinates are unable to do the job as well as they can. Hence, they have to ensure that they're involved in everything. In Ego vs EQ, author Jen Shirking suggests checking whether you're a micromanager by asking the following questions:

  • Is this something I should be this involved with?
  • Have I delegated this to someone else but am I still too far in?
  • Is my involvement slowing everything down?
  • Am I just gathering information, or am I now in the middle of something, telling people what to do?
  • What would happen if I took my hands off the wheel? What does that tell me about how well I have prepared my next-tier leaders for running the business?

6. Stop doing what you enjoy but not your critical roles: We are addicted to our strengths. We enjoy doing what we're good at. But when you're at a senior level, you have to let go of several things that you great at. For some executives, preparing slide presentations is fun and they continue to do that instead of letting an assistant or project coordinator handle the work. Some executives enjoy talking with the media but that takes up a lot of time; let your company spokespeople do their job.

7. Stop over-participation: Some leaders believe that every executive decision needs input from all parties involved. Every decision needs consensus. Hence, it takes more time. Great leaders know that making a decision is a situational act. You might ask for input, opinions or consensus. Or in some situations, it's your job to just make the decision. Making the right decision with the right degree of participation is a leadership quality that doesn't follow any fixed recipe.

By using the above guidelines situationally, you should be able to manage your time better. From now on, you won't have to say "I have no time".

Kriengsak Niratpattanasai provides executive coaching in leadership and diversity management under the brand TheCoach. He can be reached at Daily inspirational quotations can be found on his Facebook fan page: Previous articles are archived at