You may have heard this many times, “If you don’t manage your time, it will manage you”. There are many demands on your time as a manager and always more work than time. Hence it is important to manage it well and find time for activities that have the highest leverage. I have developed a practice which has helped me manage my time proactively, I call it Operating Rhythm.
What is an Operating Rhythm?
An Operating Rhythm is a set of activities you do on a regular schedule. The key idea is to identify the activities and determine the schedule at which you want to perform them.
This is similar to the concept of Cadence in cycling. In cycling, cadence describes the rate at which a cyclist is pedaling. Each cyclist has their own preference at the rate at which they pedal and it changes based on the terrain and situation they are in. The rate may change, however the rhythm needs to be maintained.
Similarly, there are several activities that you need to perform as a leader: people development, hiring, strategy, and planning. The rate at which you perform these activities will vary based on activity itself as well as on the need of your team, org and the company. Also, the rate will be unique to you, however the key part is to build the regularity.
Why build an Operating Rhythm?
There are several benefits of building rhythm(s):
- Focus: It enables you to focus on activities important to you. You could manage your time rather than being managed by it.
- Reflection: It gives you a defined cycle for performing key activities, after which you can reflect on performance and progress.
- Prioritization: Important and non-urgent activities, such as long term planning, are easy to ignore. Building rhythms will enable you to find time for them.
What are my Operating Rhythms?
Here are my operating rhythms broken down across different areas of responsibilities(y-axis) and lengths of cycles (x-axis):
I am someone who likes structure and putting things in order. However I also understand not everyone operates in the same way and Operating Rhythms may not be a useful tool for them. The goal is to find time to focus, reflect and prioritize how you invest your time. If you are able to do it in other ways, more power to you. If not, I would recommend finding a way to do it.