Every manager knows juggling multiple tasks is a critical part of his or her role. District managers have to be especially concerned with multitasking and multiple projects. They have important tasks to complete for every unit in their region. Communicating corporate initiatives and following up on action plans takes strategy and communication. Adding another initiative to the existing list can be complicated, and can make everything feel like priority number one.
District managers have to accomplish many, complex tasks in an era when speed and accuracy are key ingredients for success. The more companies can do with less—and the faster they can work—the better for the bottom line. Unfortunately, according to a growing body of research, multitasking erodes productivity. As employees divide their attention, their concentration and comprehension suffers. Additionally, moving from one task to another quickly doesn’t improve results.
So how can companies help their field management tackle their full list of duties and tackle them effectively? Below we offer a few tips that can help district managers get organized, plan tasks, implement them promptly, and be successful even when everything is priority number one.
- Use the “Eisenhower Principle”
When everything is priority number one, managers need to be very clear and separate the urgent tasks from the important ones. If there are a few, critical tasks that are time sensitive, then they should be prioritized. Other tasks might also be necessary to finish, but they can be finished after the urgent deadlines pass.
This time management recommendation is known as the “Eisenhower Principle” because this is how President Eisenhower managed his work load. His Urgent/Important Matrix, suggests that people only focus on urgent activities that demand immediate attention and delegate secondary, important tasks as often as possible.
- Write out and organize tasks
According to Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s CEO, listing tasks and creating to-do lists to identify critical activities, eliminate duplicates, and consolidate similar projects is very helpful. He recommends managers use old school methods to better understand their upcoming responsibilities and determine “what matters to whom and why.”
District managers should consider consolidating tasks by store, region, or specific initiatives. This can prioritize whether to review the marketing progress of all stores in Region A or review financials of under-performing stores first.
- Order tasks by effort
Another critical tool for prioritizing tasks is to order them by their required effort. The metric used matters less than the mechanism used to track the effort, fix inefficiencies, and communicate best practices in all channels under the supervision of a district manager. Tracking and understanding the effort of specific tasks can help tremendously with schedules and help managers fit in the right task at the right time.
- Identify overall value
Not all tasks have the same value, although they all may be important. On some days, a presentation for corporate stakeholders may not be as important as tasks that help improve an under-performing store. Managers should always commit time and energy on high-value tasks, lowering the importance of projects with lower operational worth.
- Create a flexible plan
The Wall Street Journal’s Productivity Specialist Sue Shellenbarger notes most people spend more time making a to-do list than accomplishing the tasks on them, she suggests professionals write a better to-do list. By cutting down items on a to-do list and becoming more flexible, district managers can achieve their prioritized goals and help their organization improve performance.
When it comes to task prioritization, the goal is to avoid surprises and frustrations. To boost productivity, district managers should list all tasks and focus on the urgent ones, assess tasks value, rank them all by effort, and be as flexible as possible to meet expectations.
These are just a few tips on how to improve time management and boost productivity for district managers. If you know your company needs to better understand the roles and functions of district managers, download our 2015 District Manager Report. We partnered with WBR to survey more than 900 district managers and uncover the biggest challenges district managers face. Learn what district managers need to better fulfill their duties and help improve the financial performance of every store in their region.