Time Management – The Mysterious Art of Increasing Productivity


Time is the one thing that I hear people want more of than anything else. “If only I had more time, I would be able to see more of my family.” “If I had more time I would be able to get my tax return filled in before the deadline.” “If I had more time I would be able to hit my KPIs.” “If I only had more time blah blah blah.”

Time is a precious commodity; with more time most people could achieve more. Time management is therefore critical. Let’s look at some things we can do, from today, to improve our time management. We often hear that time is money, yet have you worked out how much your time is worth? Assuming you have a target of 150k then your hourly billing rate (less holidays) is approximately £75 per hour. That means any activity you do for 60 minutes should net you £75 to make sure you deliver against your target. Clearly the higher your target the greater your time is valued. Effective time management in recruitment needs to be focussed on getting the most out of each and every hour. The first person who has to value your time is you! Nobody else will start to respect that until you start to demonstrate it.

What time are you reading this?

How long have you had it?

What made you decide to read it now compared to any of the hundred other possible things you could be doing?

What time did you get into the office this morning?

By what time were you fully logged into the system?

When did you make your first business call of the day?

Do you know whom you will be calling next and why?

There are three golden rules I used to work to from a time management perspective:

1. Stay close to the money every day.


It is amazing how quickly you can be diverted by activities that may not yield a placement. Spending an hour surfing the net and the job boards looking for inspiration is not, in my opinion, going to make you feel any more inspired. Do the activities at the beginning of the day that is most likely to make you money. Follow up yesterdays offers, get meaningful interview feedback from candidates who were out on interview late yesterday before they start work to deliver to your client at 9.00am, chase down clients at 9.00am on interviews, 2nd interviews, CVs with no feedback, look for new candidates who have posted CVs last night and speak to them before the competition do and get them to your jobs first thing. Doing the activities that are closest to the money first thing require discipline. It requires focus and planning and good time management! With these activities taking place from 8.30am, there is no room for planning for business development phone calls “first thing”. Got no jobs to track in this way? Then get disciplined and track the competitions! Want more jobs? Then track the competitions! To fit all of this in between 8.30am and 10.00am (when core selling time should begin) is difficult yet I see many a consultant make their first phone call around 9.30am.

2. Allocate time to measured activities and stick to it.

Allocate time in your day to periods when you cannot be disturbed. Most people’s biggest distracter is not their colleagues, it is themselves. Ever begun a session of business development calls and found yourself quickly checking your emails when you get a message alert, selling yourself the fact “it might be a requirement or interview request”? Before you know it you’re replying to someone else in the office about something trivial…. Respect your core selling time and avoid the distraction. Two hours in the morning and then two hours in the afternoon of focussed activity is enough.  When resourcing, set targets and goals as to how long you will resource each role relative to the amount of commitment you have from your client not the potential size of the fee. Remember it is about getting the money in. Return incoming calls in one batch at the end of your business development activity.

3. Work all of the recruitment cycle each week.

What does this mean? It means, no matter how many jobs you have on – keep on canvassing! No matter how few jobs you have on – keep on working on your candidate attraction and developing a database your clients will want, rather than farming the easy to find candidates in the market. Client acquisition and candidate attraction are the twin engines of the recruitment cycle. Focussing on just one is going to send you going round in circles, the harder you focus on one the quicker you will go round in those circles. Both engines, peddle to the metal, and you will rocket forward in a straight line towards your target.

Like everything time management is simple yet can be a tough challenge to master. Discipline, focus and work ethic are the competencies of the day to succeed. Must dash, time is ticking!

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