Thursday, January 14, 2016

Coping Skills for Managers

It’s a busy time for retail and small business: the holidays are upon us in full force. Don’t get me wrong, this time of the year can be great fun. It can also bring extra stress, especially for managers.

It’s important for managers to realize that, in addition to being responsible for everything at work, they also owe themselves good self-care. That can be easy to forget, especially during peak times. However, I’ve come up with a few tips that, while incredibly simple-sounding, are amazingly powerful. Today, let’s talk about time.

Time Management 

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” ~ H. Jackson Brown, author of Life’s Little Instruction Book

This is true, but it may not feel like it sometimes. My secret to time management is triage. Just like they do in hospital emergency rooms, I triage my daily tasks. Often, it’s easy for us managers to think that everything on the to-do list must be done before we go home. That’s simply not possible sometimes.

Granted, we managers are the ones held responsible when things don’t get done. However, if were at work 16 hours per day, 6 days per week, very soon we’ll be sick and not accomplishing anything. Instead, I have a category system. Note: to use this system successfully requires absolute self-honesty!

1. Red alert! If these items don’t get done, the store/company will come to a dead stop and I’ll likely be fired. a. Examples: Payroll, making sure there’s adequate staffing.

2. Yellow Alert! If these items don’t get done, things could get a little rough, but the world, as we know it won’t end. a. Examples: Certain supply orders, taking deposits to the bank.

3. It’s All Good! If these items don’t get done, nothing bad will happen. a. Examples: Answering non-customer, non-urgent emails, washing my coffee cup (don’t tell my office manager about that last one!).

In addition to brutal self-honesty, I should point out that it’s vital that you don’t keep skipping Yellow Alerts and It’s All Good’s. They’ll eventually become Red Alerts!

After I triage my days tasks into these categories, I review the list. Typically, I’ll do the Red Alerts first; they are, after all, hot items. Sometimes, if there’s only one or two Red Alerts, but a lot of Yellows, I might do the most important Yellows and then the Reds.

There’s something to be said for the satisfaction (and mental well-being) of checking items off of the list. On those days that the Red Alert list is bigger, I focus solely on the Reds.

The last thing I do start. Sounds obvious, right? It isn’t always. There are times I just don’t want to face the Red Alerts, but I have no choice. So, I grab the most important one and dive right in! I don’t allow myself to be distracted by email or just five more minutes of the news. Pick a task and go! Keep going until it’s done. Pick the next one.

I hope you find this helpful. I have tips on stress management and employee conflict that I’ll share next time.

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