Lean Learning Center has a nice article on a familiar topic, creating more time for what is important. Click "Like" If You Have Enough Time
Time is the only resource we have that we cannot get more of. Yet time is squandered at an unbelievable rate. Organizations manage money with obvious structure and measures of return on investment. When it comes to time, individuals are left to Darwinian survival mode. Hundreds of emails daily, multiple meetings with unclear return on time spent, and administrative tasks consume high percentages of time. Studies have shown that management spends 10-20% of work time on current priorities, coaching, and identifying improvement opportunities. The remaining time is spent on other stuff.
I find that it isn't only management where this happens. It could be the salespeople meeting with decision makers 5-10% of their time. Or project team members spread across many activities and several projects. If these people could increase the focus - have dedicated time for their most important activities - what would be the benefit to them? What would be the benefit to the organization?
The post goes on to recommend some specific actions around observing how one's time is spent today. Essentially: are people doing that which is most important, or are they doing whatever happens to be in front of them at the moment.
Reflect back to Covey's 4 Quadrants (Urgent + Important; Not Urgent + Important; Urgent + Unimportant; Not Urgent + Unimportant): Clearly, dropping those activities which fall in the "unimportant" quadrants can make a big difference. Most people who talk about this topic also suggest that doing better with focus means that the level of "urgency" also drops - when people have time to focus on the important aspects of their work, many of the urgent activities get handled correctly and with much less fanfare. Time gets created by not wasting it.
One big area I always check: how much multitasking are people doing? How much of the unimportant or the last-minute urgencies get in the way of being able to focus on very few things at one time. How often do people get started (hurry, hurry, this is really important) only to discover that there are incomplete preparations that stall the effort? How much benefit would be gained by giving people mechanisms - and the organization trusting those mechanisms - to enable focus and finish, rather than start-stop-start-stop of multitasking.