It is likely that, as head of a school, you find your time,
as a resource, is very scarce. It is impossible to store, or
stretch, or restore, once it has passed. As a head you will
appreciate how important it is for you to manage your time if
you wish to achieve your objectives. Consequently, you and your
staff will need to reflect regularly on how you use your time
to ensure that you are making the best use of it. Making the
best use of the available time is a key element of good management.
It is the aim of this unit to help you become a better time
manager as part of your own self-development.
Individual study time: 4 hours
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
list your main time users
identify your main time wasters and time savers
realise the importance of budgeting time
design and implement your own action programme on time
build up more disposable time
rank tasks in the order of their importance
Understanding the job of the school head
Before you can manage your time efficiently, you should first
know and thoroughly understand the tasks you are expected
to perform. It is worth your while to refer to Unit 4 on 'Job
Analysis' before proceeding. Once you have mastered the tasks
you are expected to perform, you will be in a better position
to determine which ones you have to do as a head and which
ones you can delegate. This will further assist you in allocating
time to each task.
(1) List what you believe are the major types of tasks a head
is expected to perform.
(2) Divide the types into those important ones you have to undertake
and those you can delegate.
(3) Allocate time to each task you perform. This may be done
by using percentages. Thus in a 40 hour week, 4 hours = 10 per
We hope you have identified at least four broad types of tasks
you are expected to perform, namely:
routine tasks: duties repeated at specific periods
(daily, weekly or monthly)
personnel duties: management of personnel issues
thinking: allocating time to creative tasks designed
to improve the operations of your school
problem-solving: allocating time to solving unexpected
and routine problems.
Having a clear understanding of how you spend your days will
help you to identify the main users of your time. Having a
clear understanding of what your duties are will assist you
to rank the users of your time in order of their importance.
It may surprise you to discover that the operations of your
school would not be adversely affected if you did not attend
to some of your time users or if someone else attended to
them on your behalf!
Fig 3 below shows some of the parties that claim the use of
your time. In the light of your own experience, fill in the
rest of the boxes. (The boxes are drawn in different sizes to
help suggest differences in the amount of time each party may
claim. If you need more boxes then add them in.)
Fig 3 Claimants on head's time
Arising from this activity, you should now realise that all
the parties listed above are not only time users but also
potential time wasters, unless you plan and budget your time
and determine criteria for deciding which parties you have
to attend to as a head. In particular, it is important for
you to make time available just for yourself.
Fig 4 shows potential time wasters in Column 1. Indicate the
causes of these time wasters in Column 2. Leave Column 3 for
Fig 4 Potential time wasters
From this activity we hope you will now appreciate that some
of the time wasters may be caused by yourself! Once you have
identified these time wasters, or leaks, you need to take
steps to eliminate them. The process of eliminating time wasters
and leaks is not an easy one. It involves tight budgeting
of your time and developing efficient work habits. Efficient
time management is a process that takes time and, like everything
else the manager does, should be continuously reviewed and
We hope you now have a clear picture of what constitute time
wasters. In the next section we will explore ways through
which you can prune off time wasters, thus managing your time
Strategies for saving time (time savers)
Now complete Column 3 'Suggested Solutions' in Fig 4.
Here is a checklist of some solutions to the time wasters
listed in Column 1. See how many you got and whether you have
any additional suggestions:
recognising the importance of planning
formulating a clear mission statement with a few selected
objectives and targets which have been discussed and agreed
with your staff
learning to say 'No'
putting first things first
encouraging rapid communication
taking time to do a task to avoid having to do it again
differentiating between urgent and important tasks
attempting less and delegating more
taking time to plan
setting goals and sticking by them
screening and grouping telephone calls
staying uninvolved with all but the essentials
not planning or attending unnecessary meetings
getting facts, setting targets and investigating alternatives
training subordinates well and allowing for mistakes
giving credit to your subordinates.
The activity above has clearly demonstrated to you how you
can eliminate time wasters and plug leaks in your time. Let
us have a look at some time savers in more detail in order
to enhance further your understanding of how to manage time
As a head, you will appreciate that one way of creating more
time for yourself is to ask some of your staff members to
perform some of your duties on your behalf. This is what delegation
is all about. It may also have an added advantage of helping
to create a team spirit amongst staff. But before you delegate
you must take steps to ensure that it won't lead to confusion.
What steps would you suggest you should take before you delegate
some of your duties and responsibilities to your staff?
You may have identified some of the following:
identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your staff
recognising the existing skills and competencies of
clarifying your own attitude towards those with whom
ensuring you have the necessary authority to delegate
preparing a clear statement of the task to be delegated
getting acceptance and commitment from the delegatee
establishing control or checking mechanisms.
If you delegate effectively you will find yourself doing
mostly those tasks which you alone have the necessary qualifications,
authority and judgement to do. This will free you to devote
your time to creative thinking and reading. Thus to delegate
means to manage time and this means working better, not harder
Building efficient work habits
Once you have identified old habits that lead to time wasting,
you should take steps to eliminate these by:
beginning a deliberate campaign against the old habits
not tolerating exceptions
beginning straight away to change your behaviour and
avoiding decision-dodging by committees.
Persistence and determination can produce dramatic results
that are well worth your effort.
Avoiding being a workaholic
(1) What is meant by the term 'workaholic'?
(2) What are the characteristics of a workaholic?
A workaholic is one who tries to do too much, but achieves
very little in the end. This is usually caused by a lack of
planning and poor budgeting of time, resulting in the workaholic
having far too much to do. In addition to the characteristics
of workaholism you have identified in Activity 5.6, consider
over-dedication to work
compulsive belief in task completion
pushing oneself to the limit
having a disorderly work desk
directing subordinates so that they are always running
here and there
carrying piles of work home
panicking over every emergency
never taking a vacation
never meeting deadlines.
If this profile fits you, you may need to look at your planning
and determine which tasks need to be completed in a specified
number of hours. You can only be on top of the situation if
you manage your time carefully.
Being aware of myths on time
Many people believe that working hard will of necessity lead
to the attainment of the desired goals. However, as a head
you will appreciate that you become less efficient if you
spend too much time on one task. The fact is that work tends
to expand to fill up the available time. You are sure to have
experienced it at your work place, where eight hours of work
can easily stretch into twelve hours. You will find that the
less time you assign to a task the more work you get done.
There is, in fact, no direct relationship between hard work
and positive results. What is true is that time spent on planning
can save several hours' work. Furthermore, some people believe
that the most active person gets the best results. It is,
however, true that many active individuals have no objectives
and plans and therefore do not get results. To become an effective
time manager avoid these myths or misconceptions.
Time log or inventory
Before you can begin to manage your time effectively, you
must know how you are using it now. A time log will help you
discover where your time leaks are and help you start plugging
(1) List all the activities or tasks that you perform in a day
or a week.
(2) Allocate time to each activity or task.
(3) Objectively analyse whether you are using your time effectively.
After logging your activities for a day or a week it is likely
you will discover a few surprises in the manner you have been
using your time. It should have helped you to:
discover the areas you are most effective in your use
identify the areas where you are least effective
determine the areas that need improvement
discover that perhaps far too much time is being spent
on one task
discover that after all, many of your meetings and
visitors are not that important.
You should take the initiative to identify areas where you
can save time and make the best use of the time that you save.
Implementing a time management programme
Having read this unit, and undertaken the activities,
we hope that you have not only realised the advantages of
a properly planned and budgeted use of time, but that you
are going to start a programme in your school that is aimed
at a more efficient use of time. In initiating such a programme
you may need to consider the following:
selling the idea to all your staff
convincing all your staff of the benefits
setting objectives in full consultation with your staff
setting strategies for implementation and evaluation
instituting follow-up strategies to check implementation
Once your time management programme is in place, you will
need to monitor its implementation and assess whether, in
fact, time is being utilised in an effective and efficient
manner. This may be done through:
meetings with members of staff
comments deposited in the school suggestion box
time logs compiled by your individual members of staff.
Occasionally you find managers who are the opposite of workaholics;
they are so expert at delegating that they are, in fact, quite
idle. Signs of this are likely to include frequent absences
from school, a very clear desk, and they may spend a lot of
time with casual visitors. To maintain this position, such
people usually have an autocratic management style.
We hope that through this unit you are now a strong believer
in time management, and that you are in a position to identify
what constitutes time wasters and time savers in your job.
The extent to which you are an effective school head, will
depend on your ability to plug time leaks, and to make the
best use of all your available time.