Time Management Article PhotoBlanca Trevino, CEO of Softek for the past fourteen years, has advice for those looking to manage their time more effectively. In one of a series of posts by LinkedIn influencers she shares these four productivity tips that I’ve paraphrased/embellished below:

    1. Recognize the difference between the “urgent” and the “important.” This one is pretty obvious, and one many of us struggle with. Trevino, rightly so, focuses on email management as for many of us it can be a huge drain on our time and energy if we don’t have a system for handling it. In a form, this Here are her tips paraphrased:
      • Prioritize effectively by mastering the art of quickly determining which emails require your input and which ones can be dismissed (deleted, forwarded, filed).
      • “Invest your valuable time where you can make a difference.” This ties in to a point she mentions early about surrounding yourself with bright people and delegating. For those of us with other staff, ask yourself, “is this something only I can handle or is this something that can be handled by another capable member of my team?”
      • Don’t feel like you need to respond to every email you receive. Some can (and should) be handled by others and some may have gone out to a wide group of people. Trevino says here, “I don’t participate in email chains, unless there is an action item on my end; responding, otherwise, will only set me up for an even fuller inbox, with low-priority emails getting in the way.”
      • “Prioritize emails that contain issues that may pertain to a negative perception of me or my company,” says Trevino. She also says her days doesn’t end until she responds to every email in this category. This speaks to great customer service, the foundation of all great companies – big or small.
    2. “Do a thorough job, the first time around,” says Trevino. Take the time needed early in the process to get the clarity, buy-in, facts answers, plan – whatever – that you need to move forward. While this may add a little extra time in the beginning, “there is usually a reward that translates into less (or zero) follow up. This, in turn, frees up more time that can be allocated to another important item.
    3. Trevino says “Don’t commit to social media.” She doesn’t like Facebook and says that “the ‘always-on’ and ‘always-connected’ lifestyle exists even without social media.” She goes on to make other points in this area and notes that one of social media exceptions for her is LinkedIn and her own company’s network. Of course, her article is written for LinkedIn so it would be pretty hard to lump them in with the rest 🙂 That said, while this advice may make sense for some, it doesn’t make sense for all in business:
      • There is more to social media than Facebook and I spend little time on Facebook personally. Even for business Facebook, as a B2B business, is not a place where I invest a lot of time. That said, I have business clients for whom Facebook is or can be hugely important. The same is true of Pinterest, Twitter, etc. It depends on the business. So, ‘don’t commit to social media unless it’s where your customers are and works for your business” and “don’t spend hours engaged in personal social media stuff that is completely unrelated to your business’ might be better advice.
      • There is a difference between spending time on social media personally and using it as a strategic tool to help build, promote and brand your business. For some, using it personally is all about their business, it is the mindset they approach social media with.
      • CEO and others in business are sometimes told they must participate in social media personally, with their business hat on. That this is something they can’t delegate. Most CEOs of larger and some smaller companies are able to give this responsibility to someone on their own staff or by outsourcing. The problem is not having someone else handle it for you, the problem, or the key to success is this: Who are you entrusting the responsibility to? Responsibility needs to be given to someone who can speak with your voice. Someone who can legitimately write content and interact on your behalf with your voice, not their own.
      • The person who has others handling social media for them personally, for business purposes, does need to play a role in the social media conversation, if only to periodically check what is being posted in their voice.
      • The key again is, who are you trusting this responsibility to? Trevino points out in her article the importance of being able to delegate. She says, “I’ve seen many executives that have problems delegating, and/or surrounding themselves with bright people. The best way for me, and for my team, to be productive, is to provide them the space and freedom to act. He/she who can delegate effectively will be able to do more and achieve greater results.” This applies to social media too, and delegating to the right people to handle this, in-house or outsourced, is key.
    4. “Leverage the devices you like best.” For Trevino that’s a Blackberry, but her point here is to use the technology available to you to help you manage your time more effectively/productively.