Time and team management: an essential guide

Everyone working in project or team management had days when the list of tasks was more than overwhelming. Being a CEO of a company, I know it from my own experience. We have grown to 20 employees recently (and still growing), and during this period, I changed the way I plan and manage my tasks a couple of times.

The first problem that I experienced was that I was constantly under stress and distracted by being responsible for many projects, team members, and my schedule. The to-do lists and apps didn’t help. Creating a list of tasks is a pain in the ass by itself, but then you forget about it and never open it again because you feel like you didn’t make any progress. So, yes, we constantly lie to ourselves, and that’s okay.

So how did I break this curse and started to manage my time more efficiently?

Here’s my basic workstation. I travel often, so a small laptop is the best choice for me

Step 1. Set up your calendar.

I believe that a simple calendar is the most powerful time and task management tool. Once you get a grasp of how to use it will be your best friend. I went through dozens of to-do apps and can tell you with utmost confidence that a calendar offers you everything you need to organize your day. But you need to know how to use it.

Categorize your events by type.

Look at your calendar and weekly tasks and sort them by category. I suggest using up to five. For example:

  • business development
  • projects
  • team management
  • personal
  • others

Pick a color for each type. Then, just by glancing at your calendar, you will get a clear picture of what the next week will be like.

Here’s what my calendar for the week looks like

Schedule recurring events.

This one is pretty obvious, and most people schedule recurring events, but I suggest grouping them as well. For example, you have a couple of weekly meetings with your team. Don’t spread them through the week. Instead, it’s better to schedule them in the span of one-two days. This way, you’ll have a better overview of what is happening with your business and projects.

Do no more than four meetings per day.

Should I batch all of my meetings for one day or schedule them throughout the week? Well, it depends. I try not to schedule more than four-five meetings per day. Also, have some rest between meetings. Your brain isn’t a machine. Give it some time to cool off, process information, and prepare for the next meeting.

Create habits.

The other best thing about the calendar is that it helps you to create habits. For example, let’s say you wanted to read one book per week or start running or doing exercises. Start by creating a recurring event like “Read a book” or “Go for a run, you lazy.” You’ll notice that even though you might not be in a perfect mood for it, but an event is an event — there is no way to skip it. I don’t know how it works and whether it will work for you, but it helped me create several habits that I had only planned. After a couple of weeks, you’ll make a habit of whatever you’re doing. But I suggest you keep the event on the calendar just in case.

That’s it. Start managing your calendar (and your time) properly, and you’ll see results in no time. No pun intended.

Step 2. Delegate and don’t micromanage

Managing your entire company is tempting for every CEO. It’s the way things usually are at the beginning. But the more your company scales, the less you need to manage every employee.

Build teams around leads and assign them to projects. Arrange weekly meetings with team and project leads so they keep you up to date but don’t micromanage anyone. You’re hiring people to decrease your workload, not another way around.

Also, micromanaging your employees won’t benefit them either. They need to learn how to take the lead and make decisions. They also should make mistakes to learn from them as well. Your role here is to mentor and guide them so they don’t mess everything up.

Step 3. Don’t get distracted

We spend too much time looking at social media and talking to each other on Slack. I like Calendar events because with some integrations, once the event started, it will cut you off from the outer world and will let you focus on the task at hand. Because whether you need to write a new piece like this one or calculate a financial model, every slight distraction will stretch it for more hours than you ever anticipated. At the end of the day, you’ll feel like you didn’t make any progress with your tasks and will wonder where all the time went.

Bonus step. Hire an assistant

This one might be irrelevant for most of the readers, but I suggest that every CEO hires a personal assistant at some point. At the beginning of your journey, you’ll be managing everything by yourself, but as time marches on and your company grows, consider hiring a personal assistant. It will decrease your workload by a lot since you won’t be managing small tasks. Even if you think you are fine and can do everything yourself, believe me — you need an assistant.

Whenever I go — I work (well, that’s not 100% true, but sometimes it happens)

Focus on what’s important

That being said, the last thing that you need to remember is that your time is the most precious thing in the world. Between all plans and activities, you should always pick those that will benefit you or your business. If you do something that doesn’t make you happy — drop it. That goes for people too. If the communication with a person doesn’t bring you anything — ask yourself whether you need to spend any more time on it.

CEO & Founder @ Merge Development. Creating awesome digital products since 2014.