Understanding and managing your time is critical to your success. This article will focus on leaders, but the concepts can be applied to any role even home and personal aspects of your life. This article will not focus on task management, review my other articles if you want to carry this concept forward.
What is a Time Split? It is how you split your time between different focuses. It is done by assigning percentages to your weekly time, that part is important to understand. Time Splitting is weekly, not daily. Trying to apply this to daily activities is much to confining and applying it monthly is too broad. By keeping your focus to the week, you can handle daily changes and stay in your time split.
Time Splitting is a powerful concept. It helps focus your actions, make important priority decisions and help say no when needed. For HR/Recruiters and job seekers, it is a great tool to ensure an understanding of the role requirements and work culture.
The implementation of a Time Split is easy to implement. First, think about the buckets that define what you should or need to do in a week. This is not meant to get granular “in the weeds”. It is meant to be high-level buckets that define general priorities. I will get into examples below in the article. Second, apply a percentage of time you would assign to each bucket. You do not specify a specific hour amount in purpose. It is harder to visualize your time split with specific hours and your workweek hours may change. Third and lastly, define how many hours per week you work and create estimations of commitment hours.
After the third step, you will either be happy and in agreement with your time split hour commitments or it will be an eye-opener of how you spend your time. This method and exercise is a wonderful eye-opener for leaders themselves and an equally wonderful tool to help focus time commitments of teams and workgroups.
To help with your implementation I will walk you through a Time Split for a general senior leader. That is defined as a leader that is leading other leaders. Middle-management leaders lead people (non-leaders) and executives lease senior leaders. That is important as each leadership type has a different Time Split. Also a Time Split for a non-leader or for personal use is much different, usually more tactical focused.
Define Your Buckets. Senior leaders focus on leading other leaders and developing a culture appropriate to their organization. Strategy plays a heavy focus and should be one of your buckets:
- Strategy: 40%
- People Development: 25%
- Partner Engagement: 20%
- Culture Support: 10%
- Tactical Activities: 5%
These are just examples, your buckets will be specific to your needs and the needs of your organization. The example shows you the generalization of the buckets, they are not specific nor meant to be. For example, strategy contains anything strategy related. That could be process development, maturity improvements, meetings about future activities, etc. You make the rules, just make sure they make sense and are an important focus of your role. Another example, this time with culture, that contains anything that supports building the appropriate culture. That could be transparency actions, work/life balance meetings, etc. Again, you define the buckets.
Track Your Time. Once you have buckets created you can start to define and track your hours. The image above is an example of a tracker you can create. The level of tracking is up to you, it could be part of your weekly review or just a monthly spot check. Tracking helps you identify gaps in what you should do and what you are actually doing.
Tracking hours as part of a team Time Split activity can be a powerful way to manage workloads. If you move this into a dashboard for your teams you can begin to understand the impact of changes and general workloads of people.
Adjust, Track, Repeat. In the picture above, you can see a large gap with Tactical Activities. Effort (probably Strategy bucket) should be dedicated to solving why there is so much time dedicated to the Tactical. You can also notice the amount of hours worked is much higher (52 vs 40) than expected. That is also an area of investigation and possibly driven by the Tactical Activities. This becomes a great tool to manage the workloads of your teams and if you are inclined, push a positive work/life balance.
This is a simple concept, that usually is forgotten in the heat of doing things. Especially in business, “time tracking” is a dirty word that nobody likes. Time Splitting doesn’t have to be lumped in with Time Tracking as it is not meant to track specific hours. Time Splitting is a way to visualize where your time goes and make adjustments to keep you focused and balanced.