Time Allocation for Effective Leadership

The Discovery

Being a technology guy, time management and allocation is one of the things I have struggled the most over the years.

Coordinating multiple projects and initiatives can be quite challenging, even more when you add to it day-to-day operations and unexpected events.

As our development team grows, it becomes more evident I need to get better at this.

Sharing frustrations with my wife the other night, she gave me some advise on how to allocate my time, and knowing she knows well what she is talking about, I decided to put my headphones down and listen carefully.

My wife was the star Executive Assistant of a very busy executive, she has also extensive experience working in Consulting, Project Management and more recently with Financial Services remote teams (Yeees, I love my wife, but facts are facts :)).

I will try to explain her advise in my own words (sorry babe!)

The Advise

The advise revolves around Strategic, Tactical and Operational planning, which can be adapted to time allocation.

In order to keep an eye on the ball, there are four types of tasks we should identify, and appropriately allocate our time to each:

  1. Strategic (or “the roadmap / long-term planning horizon”) [Planned]

    Schedule your planning time, do you need to work on the next iteration of the system architecture?

    Do you need to pick a vendor for an important part of the business, and don’t know what’s out there? schedule some research time and stick to it!

    This is the type of task that normally goes out the window when things get tough, but is critical, think about it, where will we be tomorrow with no clear direction? prob. doing more bug fixes :/

  2. Tactical (or “medium-term”) [Planned]

    Planned projects need to keep moving forward, so schedule regular touch-point calls with your team to discuss progress and potential blockers.

    If we don’t follow-up, projects can deviate from the original goal or intent, and initiatives and good intentions can die, so … follow-up!

  3. Operational (or “day-to-day”) [Planned]

    Daily Scrum?, depending on the level of involvement you have on projects and initiatives, this is the most granular level of follow-up for planned work.
    As a team grows or you acquire new responsibilities, it becomes increasingly difficult to follow up on this level, so the advise is to start delegating it in the measure possible.

  4. Contingency (or “Ad-hoc”) [Unplanned]

    Leave free time for the unexpected.

    Keep in mind things can (and will) break, so don’t overbook yourself.

    Keep X percent of your time free, so you can jump on those not fun, but critical train-wrecks.

Personally, I think this is a basic but powerful framework for time management and allocation, so I will be taking it for a spin, best of luck in your own journey!