The key here is being honest with the estimated amount of time to completion. Don't let yourself get carried away finishing a report and end up staying at the office until midnight.
There are other tasks that use up a lot of your time — meetings are another example. Start meetings at the designated time, use an agenda and attempt to keep them to the allotted time. Many meetings can be kept to an hour in length if you keep the discussion moving and pay attention to the clock.
Learn To Say No
Many people find it difficult to say no when asked to take on a task or add something additional to an already full plate. This is particularly true in your role as manager, as you try to fill all of the "gaps" in the "to do" list. Management consultant Christine Scivicque states there are many circumstances where you can, and should, say no. The key is to do so in a respectful, professional manner (this is true even when you are the boss).
You should feel free to say no when:
1.) You feel the work is irrelevant or unnecessary to your job;
2.) You believe the work would be more appropriately handled by another individual;
3.) You are feeling overwhelmed and unable to keep up with your existing workload; and
4.)You feel your workload is unfair or inappropriate. The best way to say "no" is to be straightforward and honest. Explain your situation and respectfully offer an alternative.
A Cool Tool
In putting together this column, we came across a "cool tool," developed by "Mind Tools," a website that touts "essential skills for an excellent career." While not an endorsement of their services, their "Interactive Time Management Quiz" raises some interesting questions and scores the test taker on their time management ability. The results/interpretation section of the quiz page outlines areas that people may have problems with regarding their time management and discusses issues such as prioritizing your work and handling interruptions. The quiz is found at: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_88.htm
Time Is of The Essence
Time is an essential ingredient in all that we do. Prioritizing, delegating, planning, saying no to projects, and working hard to be efficient are all ways to be more mindful of how you spend your time and the impact that it has on your productivity and that of your company. Learn to manage time well, and you will find that you have more of it to spend productively, which should have a positive influence on the profitability of your business.