Achieve more by spending less time – the top 5 time

Management principles for Risk managers.

Boris Agranovich

This article is part of the series "Popular Risk Management". The aim of the series is to describe the main risk management topics in simple, clear and concise language. To stay updated on the recent trends, please make sure to check out our Risk Management Show podcast on the major podcast apps or via the following link:

According to the survey of a Brussels based consultancy firm Finalyse, the risk management departments split their work time over the following activities:

Recurring 39%; Special Planned projects 35%; Ad-Hoc 29%.
It turns out that responding to ad-hoc demands was cited as the biggest reason for the expected increase in workload.
Another important conclusion of the survey is that “Resource constraints combined with an increasing workload will require improvements in efficiency or higher
budgets for risk management”.
So how do risk managers save their precious time and achieve more results? Follow these 5 steps.

Principle 1: Allocate your time.
We can do many things, but not everything. Before doing anything, ask yourself how much time you're willing to invest in every activity you do. Write those shares of time down so you're able to reference them regularly. Then, stick to your time budget carefully investing the time in what matters and having the courage to let the less important stuff go. Don’t be afraid to say no.
Our success and achievements are primarily determined by what we consistently invest our time in.

Principle 2: Focus your attention or use time boxing.
If the previous principle was about allocating time for the things that matter, this one is about how well you’re able to spend that time.
Very often we just can’t concentrate, even though we know what we should be doing. The best strategy for overcoming resistance, dealing with distractions and procrastinations is to use time boxing. The concept is really simple: define blocks of time to work on tasks. Instead of working on a task until it’s done, you commit to work on it for a specific amount of time instead. When the end date is set it may not be changed. If the date is exceeded, the work is considered a failure and is cancelled or rescheduled.

Principle 3: Be effective or use Pareto principle.
Effectiveness is doing the things that get you closer to your goals. Efficiency is performing a given task (whether important or not) in the most economical way.
What you do is much more important than how you do it. Efficiency is still important, but it is useless unless applied to the right things. (T. Ferris)
To find the right things you have to apply the Pareto or the 80/20 principle to your working environment.
Pareto’s Law can be summarized as follows:

80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs. Alternatively, depending on the context.
80% of the results come from 20% of the effort and time.
80% of company profits came from 20% of the products and customers.
80% losses come from 20% of the causes.
This means that if you have a list of ten items to do, two of those items will turn out to be worth as much or more than the other eight items put together.
To apply this principle you have to stop being a perfectionist and start to answer the following questions:

1. Which 20% of sources are causing 80% of problems/risks/stress in your
2. Which 20% of sources are resulting in 80% of the desired outcome?

Based on your answers you can start prioritising your work and you will soon start realizing that you can achieve much more with less effort and stress.

Principle 4: Delegate
Effectively delegating to other people is one of the most powerful activities which creates value both for individuals and for the organisation.

To delegate properly you should follow these 4 steps:

• Identify the guidelines within which the individual should operate. These should be as few as possible, but should include any restriction.
• Identify the needed resources.
• Set up accountability standards that will be used when evaluating the results.
• Specify consequences (positive and negative) of what will happen as a result of the evaluation.

Principle 5: Achieve work-rest balance and feel good about what you do.
Take your free time as seriously as your work time. It is very important to define clear boundaries between work and rest. Whenever you forget this, you end up in a very ineffective state. Remember, people are more important than things.
To apply this principle take a one-minute self-assessment at the end of the day. Ask yourself: How was your day? Did you invest your time and energy according to your initial plan on tasks that really matters? Forget for a minute about your goals, focus on your journey and make life a priority. After all, if you’re only
making sacrifices and not enjoying your life, what’s the point of being productive?

By applying the principles described in this article you will achieve more by doing less and strike a better balance between work and your private life. The challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves.

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